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A Work in The Guy Series
Henry Clueley doesn’t want to be in Glamour, not after moving far away to overcome a difficult, if privileged, childhood. He’s no longer that pudgy kid desperate to escape his hometown, but it still holds painful memories. When his recently widowed mother needs him, however, “dependable Henry” does the right thing—even if it means leaving the IRS to take a boring corporate position. Things don’t stay boring for long. Soon Henry helps the local sheriff’s department unravel a crime. Posing as half of a fake couple seems like a fun idea… until Henry learns he already knows the deputy playing his other half.
Deputy Locke may be new to the Glamour Sheriff’s Department, but he’s fought his way up in the world and is determined to make a good impression. He keeps his private life quiet, even from his beloved younger brother. Locke knows better than most the need to protect what’s his.
Henry resents the arrogant, gorgeous cop, and Locke thinks Henry is sheltered and spoiled. Their secret and steamy encounter only adds to the animosity. As they join forces, Henry thinks a relationship with Locke would be catastrophic, but the white-hot passion between them makes it hard to resist.
I tried a new experience while reading this book – I did a Twitter buddy read with a new friend, Carolyn (@akathereader). We both loved the previous two books in this series so we decided to read this one together. We started reading at almost the same time and went to discuss it back and forth using Twitter direct messages. You should see my inbox. It had hundreds of messages. Because of that, this review would also reflect Carolyn’s thoughts since reading with a buddy helped me shape out my thoughts.
This story combined an enemies-to-lovers attraction and mystery as the story opened with a scene of a woman committing suicide. Henry Clueley, returned home to help his mother along after his father died . After finding out that his current company might be involved in a fraud case, Henry was roped into working with Locke to investigate. Locke had experience working undercover, so he pretended to be Henry’s boyfriend. These two pretty much clashed on a day-to-day basis, since Henry thought that Locke was arrogant (albeit gorgeous) while Locke thought Henry (as someone coming from the upper class) was spoiled.
When it came to the enemies-to-lovers trope – which typically isn’t my favorite, I prefer friends-to-lovers – I thought it was quite good. I definitely had fun when Henry was thinking about Locke but at the same time being totally annoyed by him. Locke played ‘the enemy’ part very well, presenting himself as a thorn in Henry’s life whenever he could. Of course it only added to the passionate kisses and sex scenes when it came to that. The times when Henry and Locke were still ‘enemies’ were definitely delicious.
I definitely thought that Henry was such a darling. He had a kind heart – he easily saw the goodness in people. He didn’t want to think badly about the others. But I also thought that Henry had a deep issue. Henry used to be fat kid, his father definitely verbally abused him, his mother didn’t stand up for him, and Henry’s love life was in the gutter. So I firmly thought he had self-esteem issues. He didn’t think himself as worthy for someone as gorgeous as Locke. This was one of the main things that Carolyn and I were agreed upon.
Carolyn: We already know that Henry doesn’t have the greatest opinion of how worthy he is. What if it’s a combination of how nice he is combined with what a “catch” Locke is. He’s said he’s never had someone like him interested. Ya know? That self-esteem thing plays havoc with you.
Ami: I know. Combination of self-esteem and having such a kind heart that he tends to see the goods in everyone.
Why was this important? Well, because Locke definitely had issues of his own. Locke’s mother left his family. Locke’s father turned to drinking. This made Locke pretty angry and he didn’t believe in love and relationships. He also strived for control and became pretty protective towards his younger brother and suspicious of people from the upper class who he thought as greedy with money.
As a reader, I’m pretty much an outsider, and I can only see the story on how the author writes it – and what I saw from the combination of these two men was as a rather ‘imbalanced’ relationship. I thought Henry was the only one who always gave and gave. He was just too nice and he quickly forgave Locke when I thought Locke was being a rude jackass and hurt Henry’s feelings. Now, I’m not saying that Henry was a doormat – I just thought that he didn’t have a vengeful bone in his body. And I wanted to be angry at Locke for Henry, you know?
This part was a very significant topic of discussion between Carolyn and I. Did Locke ‘value’ Henry enough to be more than just how good Henry made him feel? Did Henry sell himself short by not demanding an apology from Locke when I thought he deserved it?
Carolyn: I’m thinking about how mean his father was to him, how it was never acknowledged, by either apology from his father or by word from his mother. He’s learned to gloss over things, “let them go” in his own way, though he certainly remembers them.
Ami:Yes, Henry has his issues. I also think that he’s just too ‘familiar’ (for lack of better word) to rejection. That he doesn’t learn to step up and actually demand something… It’s just that I think Henry still sells himself short.
Carolyn:You know, watching Locke make a joke of things, and Henry not get exasperated with him, I think what we have here is not even that Henry is nice. I think he honestly accepts people for who they are, for their faults, like with his mom, and doesn’t judge the way he was. It’s the flip side to thinking of him being too nice or a doormat who doesn’t make Locke pay.
Ami: I supposed so — it’s one of his great values. Probably coming from one who is ridiculed for being fat redhead kid. He is someone who just sees the best / goodness in others. Because he also feels guilty when he is supposed to find the ‘villain’
Carolyn:He learned compassion because he didn’t get a whole lot. Not everyone turns bitter. Some people just fill up the empty spaces with nice.
Ami:But for me it also made me feel like Henry still didn’t see how much he was worth you know? He never believe other people could see him as beautiful… So I wish that in the end, he gained more confidence.
I guess Carolyn and I agreed at that point that while we were both happy for Henry and Locke, and we believed that they would make it as a couple – we didn’t feel enough or get enough ‘evidence’ that the relationship was balanced out.
Carolyn: Even after everything, I feel like Locke still doesn’t understand how great Henry is, he just sees how great Henry makes him feel. Not the same thing, that. I think they’re both in love for the first time, so they’re really quite stupid about it, plus their own loads of baggage…. And I absolutely believe Locke loves him and thinks he’s beautiful and sexy. I just feel at the end, you’re right, there wasn’t enough of him valuing exactly how great of a person Henry is. Or at least, I didn’t feel that.
Ami: Yes … I admired Henry’s quality and I acknowledged that Locke wanting to protect Henry, and he felt he needed for Henry to be safe, it wasn’t just enough to make me feel that they learned about this and progressed. I hope that makes sense
Having said all that … I still thought it was good that Skylar M. Cates created these flawed characters for me to root for and to get angry with. Because it made them more dynamic with all their complexities. Human relationships can be messy and it was definitely better for me to get passionately angry for them, and think of them as idiots, and me wanting a pound of flesh, rather than just felt “blah” and “meh” about it.
As for the mystery – it was quite interesting. It concluded in a way that I didn’t actually consider in the beginning. Although it also ran out a bit too long in the end. I also really liked how Cates brought out family members to the story – including Locke’s younger brother James, Henry’s friend Gina (Anthony’s sister from book 1) and Henry’s mother. I always like to see how the main couple interacts with other people in their lives, not just towards each other. Oh, and I enjoyed getting new updates about Anthony and Dean (my favorite couple from the first book) as well… although at one point, Cates had me worried about them!! Sneaky, sneaky author.
I’m contemplating between 3.5 – 4 stars for this one. In overall, I can say I enjoyed it – although I was rather disappointed with the relationship balance. I’m rounding up to 4-stars rating.
PS: Thank you so much Carolyn, for being my first Twitter buddy read. My end rating doesn’t reflect hers in any way.