Desert Isle Keeper
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.
|Review Date:||January 30, 2023|
|Book Type:||Romantic Suspense|
|Review Tags:||Canada | Male/Male romance | Queer romance | Toronto | Valor and Doyle series|
I finished this last night and really enjoyed it. I thought the mystery was good but not the most complex (I guessed both the killer and the father of the baby correctly). However, it was a lot of fun watching Aslan, Quaid and Torin deal with a bunch of teenagers. I think there was a lot more humor in this book than the previous ones (the swear jar – hysterical!) and I liked that. The best part of the book was the ongoing development of Aslan and Quaid’s relationship, which took some big steps forward. I think their problem is that they don’t speak the same Love Language – Aslan is Acts of Service whereas Quaid is Words of Affirmation. I was happy when Aslan finally wised up and realized he had to think of what Quaid needed. Quaid’s affirmation was so beautiful and Aslan’s, when it finally came, was great as well. The ending was truly heartbreaking and emotional. Although I was happy there was no cliffhanger, Aslan was left in a very vulnerable place but I felt good about the strength of Aslan and Quaid’s commitment to each other and I am confident Quaid will help Aslan get through it. I was also happy with the decision Quaid made with his work and enjoyed his budding friendship with Ruiz. All in all, a great installment to the series and I am super excited that I only have to wait 2 months for the next book!
Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Agreed about the Love Language – Doyle is very much a doer, whereas Quaid overthinks, but I think they know each other well enough by now to make adjustments and compromises.
The author said the audio version should be out later this month, so I’m looking forward to picking that up to experience the story all over again!
Thanks for the review, Caz. This sounds like a good one. And, dare I hope, perhaps Valor sneers a bit less in this one? ;-) It sounds like he is in a better place personally, and his relationship with Doyle is going well, so I’m hoping….
Oh, he still sneers :) But it’s mostly because he likes Doyle’s efforts to remove it ;)
Hah! That, I can live with!
On my TBR pile!
I loved Nicky James’s THE ENDLESS ROAD TO SUNSHINE from a couple of years ago, so I’m predisposed to enjoy these books. Do you know if there will be a definite endpoint to this series (similar to say John Wiltshire’s More Heat Than the Sun or Cordelia Kingsbridge’s Seven of Spades), or are the stories going to be more open-ended, like Gregory Ashe’s Hazard & Somerset books? I like doing binge-reads of series—if they have a definite end and overarching storyline. If not, I’ll probably just start with book one.
All the other series I’ve read by this author have been finite, but I haven’t seen anything about her plans for this one. I’ll let you know if I find out.
You could easily read the first three books ‘on their own’ because there’s an overarching plotline that runs throughout, and there’s a solid HFN at the end of book three.
Thank you! Onto the TBR they go!
I can’t remember if you do audio, but the narration by Nick J. Russo is excellent and definitely worth considering if that’s an option for you.
Great review, Caz, thank you! I’m so impressed with the complexity of the mysteries in this series and how skillfully Ms. James pulls them off. Like Manjari, I need a space of time to dive into this new book and savor it, and where I won’t be tempted to growl at my family for interrupting me. :-) While I figure out the best time, I’ll jump into Relative Commotion for my Valor and Doyle fix!
What I liked about this one is that is starts off seeming so simple – and is anything but. It’s very skilfully done.
I really liked Relative Commotion. It showed both Aslan’s personal growth and the development of his and Quaid’s relationship. That’s a lot to pack into a short holiday story!
I read it yesterday and really enjoyed it. I agree there’s a lot packed into the story. Interestingly, when I went to add to to GR, they no longer show it on the website. Even if I try to link from someone else’s review. Weird.
Bloody GR – I think it might be because it’s a newsletter freebie, but there are plenty of others of those around there. Fortunately, I didn’t write a long review, but it’s still annoying!
I’m glad to hear that this is another great entry in the series. I have my copy but it’s a long book and I want to read it in one sitting so I will have to wait for this weekend. I’ll come back with my thoughts. Thanks for the review!
And on a side note, I am really enjoying the book covers of this series. I like how they alternate Quad and Aslan on the front, use the same cover models for each, and have a city skyline background. I think they reflect the series well.
I agree with you about the covers! They are really eye-catching and tie together so well.
Please do – I hope you enjoy it. I agree about the covers – the author isn’t using stock photos so while the models do appear on other covers, you won’t see the same photo over and over on a dozen other books!