In the Flesh
Dreamspinner Press, 2010
Reno Detective Cristian Flesh lives his life by a strict set of personal rules, preferring one-time flings and anonymous encounters to committed relationships. His rules work for him... until his life is turned upside down when first, a former lover, a famous televangelist, is attacked, and then one of his one-night stands is murdered, making Cristian the prime suspect.
When handsome lawyer Colby Maddox takes his case, Cristian finds himself wanting to break all his rules about relationships. The instant attraction between them is undeniable. But before they can contemplate any kind of future together, they’ll have to clear Cristian’s name by finding the real murderer.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Contemporary, Suspense, Murder, Coming out
Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher
Gay and out cop Cris is accused of murder. His gay and closeted lawyer Colby breaks down the wall Cris has built around himself with his endless set of rules regarding relationships. While they work on Cris’ case, trying to find the real murderer, they learn to know each other better and better. But Cris can’t yet throw away all of his rules and Colby is publicly still very much in the closet.
My opinion in short:
This was an excellent romantic suspense novel. I loved it from beginning to end and I couldn’t stop reading it, which caused me to miss some hours of sleep. Its narrator, Cristian Flesh, intrigued me immediately with his first line “I live my life by a strict set of rules”. And he continued to steal my heart during the rest of his adventures. With In the Flesh we’re treated to a suspenseful story in which he’s a murder suspect, and what’s more, to a romantic tale full of tension in which he learns to let go of his strict set of rules. Mr Stone presents us a wonderful cast of actors who all play their parts very well, without stealing the show from the love couple, Cris and Colby. This story is well-paced with a good balance between the suspense and the romance, with the emphasis on the latter. It kept me engrossed in it for the entire time I was reading the book and made me heave a contented sigh when I reached the last sentence. This author earned his place on my favorite-reads-list with this fabulous novel.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
What’s more to know about this book:
Cris is a sympathetic and interesting hero who’s flawed but also has some admirable traits. Colby is a bit more of a mystery, especially in the beginning, but also did a good job of winning my sympathy. Although he deserved to be smacked at some point in the story.
Together these main characters are great. Despite their initial aloofness it was obvious they had wonderful chemistry. The author did an excellent job in showing this with their body language. I particularly loved the scenes in which they played a game of rough-and-tumble. Their playfulness told me so much more about their feelings than a description with words would have done.
The secondary characters were a nice addition to the cast, who brought each their own dynamics into the story. I especially liked Cris’s partner Lex and the role of the young gang member, the kid (as Cris called him).
This story is told from Cris’ point of view in first person. This makes us see him in all his nuances and layers and therefore it’s easy to understand and like him (despite of his flaws). He’s a nicely fleshed-out character while the other characters on the other hand are less round and developed. But that last part is almost inevitable with this type of POV and it didn’t bother me.
The plot is a well-paced, nice mix of romance and suspense, with the emphasis on the romantic storyline. The murder investigation is nicely done with a few well-concocted twists and turns and some interesting side-characters. It doesn’t matter that I suspected who the real-murderer was shortly after he/she was introduced in the story. This whole suspense storyline was a great catalyst for Cris’ and Colby’s romance without it being too obvious.
The romance storyline has good tension too, with a nice touch of angst before reaching the happy ending.
M/M. There’s not only smexing between the two protags in this book, but also between Cris and some other characters. This mainly takes place before Cris and Colby meet, though not solely. In his defense, Cris’ behavior is well explained and made understandable. Moreover, the really good sexy scenes are preserved for him and Colby. They have a subtle but clearly present D/s dynamic going on, without living the lifestyle or anything. It’s just that Colby is physically the stronger partner and Cris likes to submit and be taken in a rough way. This part of Cris seems to have a cause that lies in his past, which wasn’t explored to its fullest in this novel. I’m rather curious how this element of their relationship will develop in the future and it could be interesting to see more of it in a sequel.
A little niggle I had, regarding the smexing, concerns the easy dismissal of condoms in an early stage of their relationship, but at least it was addressed later on.
• Writing style
In short sentences and a lucid style the author tells his story. His writing is not attracting attention to itself, has no tricks to enhance the suspense – it’s just clear, plain and pleasant, interwoven with a lot of dialogue.
He and I trashed around on the bed and ended up with him on top of me, holding me down again. We kissed hard and touched each other everywhere, but it wasn’t about sex; it was about fun.
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