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How to Save a Life by Sloan Parker

Blurb:

Reporter Kevin Price has a knack for tripping over his own feet. And everyone else’s. He’s in over his head undercover at the Haven, a swanky gay sex club, determined to find out why members of the club keep vanishing. Five minutes inside and he can no longer deny the truth about his sexuality. He turns to the one man he can’t get out of his head, the sexy ex-cop handling security. Too bad Kevin doesn’t trust cops. Not since the only night he let himself be with another man.

Walter Simon doesn’t do the club scene anymore. Not since he found love and lost it. That doesn’t mean he’ll let anyone hurt more innocent gay men. Even if that means going head-to-head with the klutzy, closeted, much-younger reporter. Kevin has information about the disappearances. Better to keep him close. And safe.

Neither is at the club to hook up or fall in love. Now they must work together amid their growing passion in order to uncover the truth before more men disappear.

Dear Sloan Parker:

I really liked Walter and Kevin from the moment I “met” them on page. Walter seemed like a very decent man helping his friend to investigate the disappearances of the men from the sex club.

How to Save a Life by Sloan ParkerKevin was adorable, and I thought his nervousness and trying to come to term with his desires, while trying to conduct the investigation was well portrayed. I also thought that from the moment they met their chemistry was off the charts. I liked that Walter was sweet with Kevin despite his gruff exterior of former cop and Kevin’s chattiness just seemed to fit his character so very well.

There is twenty year difference in their ages, and I actually thought they fit together nicely despite such huge age difference, if Walter would not keep reminding me about their age difference over and over and OVER again. I did understand it after I have read something like this for the umpteenth time that he is obsessed with their age difference. There was no need for further repetition.

The action had his light brown hair stuck up all over, leaving him looking five years younger than he had a moment ago. Great. Like Walter did not already feel ancient next to him.

Only he usually did not feel that way with Kevin. In the past forty-eight hours he’d felt younger than he had in years.

Walter cupped Kevin’s cheek. He swiped his thumb through the last remnants of his own cum. He eyed him with an expression Kevin couldn’t read. “Christ, you’re young.”

“We already covered this. I look young for my age.”

“Yeah.” Walter stepped back and ran his hands through his hair. His spent cock lay outside his open pants. The always-together former cop had never looked so disheveled, so unsure. “I’m old enough to be your father”

“I don’t care about that.”
“I do”.

I counted Walter expressing similar sentiments about fifteen times, maybe more throughout the story.

The book overall was a mixed bag for me. This is mostly because according to the publisher it also belongs in the “mystery/suspense” genre. While I would agree that some parts of the book could be characterized as suspense, I take a huge issue with “mystery” characterization. I am really tired of mm romances that claim to want to be mysteries, but their main purpose seems to be to have guys having a lot of sex no matter what they were supposed to be doing – be it investigating stuff, catching the bad guys, or what have you. The way I see it if the main purpose is to get the guys together to have sex, there is no need to distract them with investigations if they are going to forget about investigations the first chance they get.

Initially Walter wants to talk to Kevin because he suspects that Kevin has the information about the disappearances. The talk turns into sex pretty fast. Kevin is deep in the closet, but of course here comes Walter and the walls fall down and fast. Walter is supposedly concentrating on the case so hard and all that concentration goes down south where Kevin is concerned and repeatedly so.

He was seriously losing it. Practically fucking with their clothes on in the bathroom of a stranger’s apartment while they looked for clues to find said stranger. He’d never been so out of control while working on a case.

Basically I was not impressed with the “mystery/suspense” part of this story at all. Even if we forget about continuous sex interruptions of the actual investigation because Walter and Kevin cannot keep their hands off each other, there are several instances in the course of the story where Walter for me did not fit the part of experienced ex-cop turned private investigator.

If this story was characterized only as erotic romance (which is what in my opinion it was), I would probably grade it a bit higher.

Sincerely,

Sirius

Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

12 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 15:08:43

    I think I would like the romance aspect of this book alone but I’m not at all interested in another m/m love story with a faux-suspense plot. BUT on the other hand, I’m still temped to buy this.

  2. lawless
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 17:06:25

    I really loved this book. As you say, the chemistry between them is off the charts and the characters are very relatable.

    Walter did angst a lot over Kevin’s age, but it felt in character, especially considering that this is Kevin’s first relationship with another man. I also cut them some slack for being distracted from the investigation for the same reason, although maybe I let the emotional arc of the book suppress my inner critic in that regard.

    While it’s fair to point out the many interruptions to the investigation that tilt the book away from mystery/suspense toward erotic romance, I’m not sure that it’s fair to downgrade the book for reasons that are unrelated to its merits. I would grade it an A- or B+.

    @Sarah – I would not call this a faux-suspense plot at all. In fact, the book ends with quite an exciting chase that had my adrenaline pumping. It’s more that the romance is more memorable and winds up being foregrounded in the middle of the book.

  3. cs
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 18:07:57

    I loved “Breathe” by Sloan Parker, but I couldn’t even finish this book. If you have such an issue about age then don’t be in a relationship with someone that young then. It’s tedious to read. I agree about the mystery tag. I hate when books are just slapped into genres and you’re expecting something and it isn’t even there. I know some people can overlook elements when they enjoy a book. I couldn’t even get past the characters never mind anything else.

  4. Sirius
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 20:11:12

    @lawless: I am glad you loved the book, but I am honestly not sure what you mean about downgrading not on the merits. Anything I do not like in the book and explain why is evaluating its merits, no?

    Or do you mean something else? I thought that the mystery part of the book was very clumsy, I thought Walter while sympathetic and likeable deserved TSTL label more than once during the investigation. Just how many times he had the culprit right in front of his nose? I thought it was silly. Even putting sex interruptions of the investigations aside (although this was a major criticism for me), I did not feel that he acted as experienced cop/investigator. To me this is critique of the merits of the book.

  5. Sirius
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 20:13:13

    @Sarah: I just want to clarify – there is absolutely a mystery in the book, I just did not like the execution of it :)

  6. Sirius
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 22:35:42

    @cs: Thanks for commenting. I did like the characters – just not their behavior when they were investigating, you know?

  7. lawless
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 10:51:39

    @Sirius (sorry for the delay; a response I tried to leave on Sunday got eaten by my Kindle) – I was referring to your comment that you would have graded this higher had it been categorized as an erotic romance rather than a mystery/thriller. Categorization and marketing are by definition external to the story. The things that your new comment make clear were why you downgraded the book were not clear to me from your review, so thank you for clarifying. You mentioned some of them, but didn’t make a direct connection with the grade, and I couldn’t tell if your comments were meant to evaluate or inform.

    It’s a good thing we all like different things; the world would be so boring if we didn’t. For example, I liked “Breathe” a lot less than this book; I almost didn’t read it and almost didn’t finish it because it stretched plausibility for me several times. I also didn’t like the pacing. Different strokes for different folks. I thought it was useful to present an opinion that differed from yours (and, apparently, everyone else who’s commented).

  8. cs
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 21:19:18

    @Sirius: I recently read a book that was included in the mystery genre. It was so weak it sort of made me angry actually and it was choke full of sex. I didn’t even finish this book – but I can understand your qualms about some aspects.

    @lawless: I can understand why people wouldn’t like “Breathe” but for me the characters were interesting. Plus I liked the touchy subject and I personally believe the author made it work. I’ve done what Sirius has done before in regards to length. I’ve downgraded books in different manners too – and personally it is all valid. For me I also look at the technical aspect of a book as well.

  9. Sirius
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 19:38:46

    @cs: I also think that any combination of factors is valid to decide what grade to give – emotional, technical, etc. I liked her “More”, but I have not read “Breathe”

  10. Sirius
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 19:39:24

    @lawless: Oh I see, thank you for clarifying as well :)

  11. cs
    Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:32:36

    @Sirius: That’s my consensus too. I think anything that makes you enjoy the book less is all valid. As I said, I can understand “Breathe” not being a favourite for some. I also agree one would need to suspend their belief. However, I’ve read wackier books in the mm genre, so I didn’t feel like I had to do it with that one. I read “More” too but I can’t say I remember it. I tend to re-read “Breathe” quite a bit. It’s one of my favourite mm books. That’s what made me want to read more Sloan Parker books. However, anything after that wasn’t really enjoyed all that much. If you do plan on reading it – it’d be great to see your thoughts. However, I’m use to people liking that one the least anyway, lol.

  12. Sirius
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 22:27:21

    @cs: If I ever get to Breathe, I will definitely let you know what I thought :)

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