Warning – there is a long and horrible torture scene. I was not able to re-read it when I was re-reading the book in preparation for this review. However, I thought it was an integral part of the story, not gratuitous in any way, but beware if it upsets you.
First, a disclaimer for readers: – I am a *huge* fan of this author. Her writing works for me in a vast majority of her books, out of her rather long back list I have only read one book that I disliked (and not because I found it badly written) and just one book which I was not able to finish. Every other book of hers I liked, and quite a few of her books I truly loved. What I am trying to say that I am probably a bit more biased than a “regular” reader, so please keep this in mind and consider seeking out other reviews as well.
And now, on to the review. As the blurb says, this book is the first part of the Pindone Files series. It could easily be read as a standalone, but in order to get the complete picture of Dek and Ren’s journey towards each other you should also read the sequel , which is called “Unsettled Conditions.”
Deklan (Dek) and Rensire (Ren) are basically cops of the future, who meet each other in BDSM club and have a very memorable one night stand. They end up working together and investigating the series of gruesome murders. I do not want to reveal more of the plot because of the possible spoilers.
In terms of genre I would characterize the book as a romance and mystery set in a complex world in the future, with some important paranormal elements built in.
The world is very vividly drawn. There are empaths, telekinetics, para-kinetics in this world and how they treat people with the talents is one of the major themes in the book. In fact, I would say that people with talents are the “others” of this world and this is where the tolerance of the rest of the population gets tested in a major way. But this is just one feature of this world. The world-building overall was superb in my opinion. I could feel the harshness of the weather. Religions were one of the most interesting that I ever encountered in sci-fi/fantasy books, it was a world which stayed in my head for a very long time. One of the major religions in this world is Spiritism. One of the major beliefs in this religion is that spirit survives the body and can undergo multiple reincarnations.
The story is told from both Dek’s and Ren’s POVs. They are amongst my favorite mm couples because in many aspects these guys are my ultimate romantic heroes, but one of the main reasons why this book left such a strong impression on me was because of their sex life.
It is ironic because much more often than not I prefer less or no sex scenes in my mm romances, but this story has influenced the way I choose my reading material. Basically, this book made me start reading BDSM romances again. I have zero personal experience with BDSM, but I have read some really bad books that I hated and I decided that if every book portrays BDSM like that, I am not interested.
But when I read this book, I saw two men who may have never seen each other before they met in the club and decided to have sex and engage in some BDSM fun, but who treated each other with respect. I saw a Dom whose main desire when they were playing seemed to please the Sub. Of course Dek enjoyed their encounter, but he was not making stupid assumptions about what Ren wanted to get from their encounter before Dek actually asked him. This was such a breath of fresh air for me.
There are not that many sex scenes in this book. Most of them are in the first two short stories/chapters of the book, which take place before the main story “Cold Front” begins, but each of them was passionate and fun to read for me.
The book is as much a mystery as it is a romance, in my opinion. I loved the mystery; I thought it was very well done. Both Dek and Ren are basically police officers and unlike the case in some mystery-romances, they actually investigate their cases. The investigation was long and , complex, and the resolution of the mystery managed to fool me. It is very hard to fool me in mystery novels, if I may say so, but this author managed to do that.
Another reason why romance worked so well for me is because it was woven into their mystery investigation. We get to know the main characters not only as two people in love, or two people falling in love, but we get to know them as individuals, while they are doing their jobs, and we can see their fallings and their successes. In other words, we get to know what is important to them outside of bed and they also get to know each other in more depth because they were working on the case together.
As I mentioned previously, the book can be read as a standalone, but I cannot recommend the sequel highly enough as well, especially in light of what is happens toward to the end of the book. [spoiler]There is no cliffhanger of any kind and it ends as happily as it could in order for the ending to work, but the second book takes the events of this book to the all new level.[/spoiler] There were several supporting characters (both men and women) whom I wanted to get to know better, and I would have enjoyed reading their own stories as well. A