Note: This is an ongoing series featuring the same couple; it’s advisable to read the previous instalments before this one, and there are likely to be spoilers in this review.
Nicky James’ fabulous series of romantic suspense novels featuring detectives Quaid Valor and Aslan Doyle continues with Inevitable Disclosure, another expertly crafted combination of clever mystery and romance, in which Quaid and Aslan, now more settled in their relationship and moving forward as a couple, both end up working on the investigation into the murder of a teenaged girl. I admit, I did wonder how the author was going to keep the series momentum going now that the major story arc about Quaid’s missing sister has been resolved, but any doubts I might have had were soon dispelled, because Inevitable Disclosure very quickly proved to be every bit as un-put-down-able as the previous instalments in the series.
In the couple of months since the end of Unstable Connections, Quaid has begun to feel a lot more secure in his relationship with Aslan and more settled in himself, too, although professionally, he’s at something of a crossroads. His raison d’ être for becoming a detective in the Missing Person’s Unit - wanting to find out the truth about his sister’s disappearance thirty years earlier – is no longer anchoring him as it once did and he’s starting to wonder if it’s time for a change of direction. The fact that Eden, his partner of nine-years, is on long-term leave to care for her sick daughter only makes Quaid feel more apprehensive about his future; he knows his reputation, knows he’s widely regarded as cold, arrogant and hard to get along with, but over the years, Eden has come to know and understand him in a way few in the department do and he’s not sure he’s up for starting from scratch with a new partner.
His other partnership, with homicide detective Aslan Doyle, is going really well, however. They spend almost every night together and have fallen into comfortable routines – they’re in a committed relationship… although Aslan has yet to repeat the “I love you” he sang for everyone to hear when he was drugged after being kidnapped at the end of Unstable Connections. Quaid knows it shouldn’t bother him; deep down, he knows how Aslan feels about him, but it’s impossible to prevent his old insecurities from gnawing at him and holding him back from taking the next step he so badly wants to take.
Following the disciplinary action taken against him at the end of the last book, Aslan’s life has calmed down, too. He’s in an actual relationship and he’s happer than he’s ever been – something he knows the Aslan of a year or two back would be astonished about. But Quaid is it for him and although he knows his boyfriend still has a way to go to process the emotional abuse inflicted on him by his ex, Aslan is sure he’ll get there – and does his damndest to show Quaid how much he means to him every day. Okay, so he hasn’t said those three little words again, but Aslan is a ‘little things’ rather than a ‘grand gesture’ guy; for him, actions speak louder than words, so surely Quaid must know how he feels about him?
For someone who knows Quaid as well as Aslan so obviously does, it takes quite a while for him to see that yes, maybe love is saying the words because the man you love needs to hear them. Similarly, Quaid has to realise that maybe he’s put too much emphasis on words and that ...in essence, Aslan told me in his own way every single day. But I hadn’t been listening.
*sigh* What a pair of knuckleheads. But I love them.
While Quaid is thinking about what he might want to do next and about whether he should stop prevaricating and just move in with Aslan, he has been assigned the case of a missing seventeen-year-old girl named Saphira Nottingham who has a history of storming off whenever she doesn’t get her own way. She’s always turned up before, usually within twenty-four hours, but this time, she’s been missing for six days and Quaid is beginning to have doubts that she’s simply run away. His worst fears are confirmed when he gets a call to say that the body of a teenaged girl has been found floating in the creek south of Centennial Park; he suggests to Aslan that as Aslan is likely to catch the case now it’s a possible homicide, they should go to the location together to find out what they can.
Aslan and his partner, Torin Fox, do indeed catch the case, and Quaid asks for permission to continue his involvement. He’s also told his boss that he’s thinking of moving to a different department – there are openings in Homicide and Intelligence currently – and is allowed the, opportnity to explore the possibilities within both areas, by being part of Aslan and Torin’s investigation into Saphira’s death and by spending some time in the Intelligence division to see which might be the best fit for him.
The case seems fairly routine to begin with, but it’s not long before the guys find themselves in the middle of a twisted and intricate web of lies which becomes more perplexing at every turn. The ‘friends’ who were with Saphira on the evening she disappeared are an unpleasant bunch, stubborn, disdainful, argumentative and mouthy with attitude for miles and wildly differing agendas, and their conflicting, shifting perspectives and willingness to throw each other under the bus creates layer upon layer of confusion and obfuscation.
The trio of Quaid, Aslan and Torin make a great team, and I enjoyed watching them working together again. Torin’s attitude towards Quaid has changed a lot since the beginning – not just because Quaid and Aslan are a couple, but because he’s now seen that Quaid is a really good investigator and not at all the standoffish prig he thought he was – and Quaid is an excellent addition to their existing dynamic, bringing another perspective and skillset when needed. I also liked the continued growth of the rapport between Quaid and Ruiz, the department’s very overworked IT specialist. There’s plenty of good-natured teasing and banter going on in these groupings and relationships, which provides some lighter moments amid the overall sombre tone of the investigation.
Nicky James weaves a twisty, intricate story, taking a deceptively sraightfoward and (sadly) ‘ordinary’ starting point and gradually revealing there to have been something entirely extraordinary happening instead. It’s a feat of misdirection that lulls the reader into believing there’s an easy solution while she’s steadily and inexorably building the tension and leading us towards a thrilling – but disturbing – climax. (That climax is quite the shocker, and I imagine its aftermath will play an important role in the next book.)
Inevitable Disclosure is another fantastic outing for Valor and Doyle. They’ve come such a long way together and I love their quiet moments of domesticity or quasi-arguments about food choices or Quaid’s love of rom coms and romance novels every bit as much as the steamy moments (oh, the supply closet!) The mystery is gripping and the denouement will have you on the edge of your seat; in short, it’s another winner in this must-read romantic suspense series, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next book sometime this Spring.
Recent Comments …
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