Review: Hunter by J.V. Speyer, Hunted 1

 

Hunter cover
Cover design by Bad Doggie Designs

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Luis is a federal agent, trained as a profiler, sent to Boston where he is assigned to work a murder case with a state police detective named Donovan. Donovan was his roommate and lover in college thirteen years before. Part of why they broke up was Donovan’s unwillingness to come out of the closet. Luis already faces discrimination for being Brazilian, so being gay is one more reason for his colleagues to dislike him; so he may as well be in their faces about it. Only Donovan knows Luis’s history and how people are unfairly judging him. For them to get their second chance, Donovan has to be honest about who he is and Luis has to value himself and stop pushing people away.

Many of Luis’s issues are his childhood trauma that he hasn’t dealt with. As a psychological professional, it is sad how mentally unhealthy Luis seems to be. His stressful work environment is not helping, and neither does he help himself. He is also dealing with racism at work–nothing overt, more like micro-agressions. Donovan’s family, also all police officers, are also not very accepting of Luis being brown, or gay. It takes awhile for Donovan to acknowledge he’s done anything wrong, or for him to admit he hasn’t ever recovered from their breakup either. Although I liked seeing flawed characters, it’s also difficult to not dislike them all at times throughout the book.

The writing is uneven. For example, Donovan is seemingly impressed with Luis being an FBI profiler at the beginning, but then he says it’s a pseudoscience and is disrespectful of Luis during the case. Then, he has an about-face defending him to Kevin, even citing Luis’s qualifications. Donovan belives in ghosts and psychics, but not psychology? Why is a police detective acting as an intermediary between FBI agents? At the point that Kevin and Luis are having issues, Donovan and Kevin are acting more like professional partners even though they don’t work for the same branch of law enforcement. Why does the FBI captain even listen to Donovan at all? The paranormal aspects of the case are only signaled by the cover. The entrance of paranormal activity is thrown abruptly into the middle of the story. I’m not sure it needed this aspect at all. I don’t think it added anything to what was already an interesting murder case. I think it took time away from character development and interpersonal communication that would have strengthened this book.

There are many things I liked about this book, and there are several parts I feel could have been better executed. By the time they have their HEA, everyone feels bad they were mean to poor Luis. At least in two sentences Luis acknowledges he needs to handle things better moving forward…but I wanted to see that as an actual realization. I wanted to see the work that would go into that, not to assume everything will magically be better after he gets out of the hospital and goes back to work, with his new boyfriend in tow.

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J.V. Speyer’s Website

Review: Benoit by RJ Scott and V.L Locey, Owatonna U Hockey 3

Benoit cover
Cover by Meredith Russell

I would rate this book 3.75 stars.

This is the third book in the series and would benefit from being read in order, but could be read as a standalone. This is a spin-off series (think second generation) of the Harrisburg Railers series. It focuses on the senior year of Ryker, Scott, and Benoit who play college hockey on a team known as the Eagles at Owatonna University. Ryker and Scott were paired off in the first two books, so this book is about Ben meeting Ethan Girard, the team’s new defensive consultant and famed Boston defenseman.

Ethan is 32 and possibly nearing the end of his career, while Benoit is just getting started, so besides the ten year age gap are their choices, their outlook, and their life experiences. Sure Benoit is a bit jealous of all his friends, but he just wants to focus on hockey and go skate for Edmonton. He is navigating a lot of pressure to help make it big and care for his family, keep his grades high and earn a degree he can use if he gets injured and can’t play anymore. He also needs to decide if coming out publicly is a good decision when he is already battling racism. Ethan can afford, in every sense of the word, to do what he wants. He got drafted right away and never went to college. If he retires, he won’t have to face as much blowback for his sexuality. I feel like I was told all of that instead of being shown.

I have to say this third book is somehow removed from the characters for the first half because it is busy sharing the story with everyone else. A lot of it takes place in Benoit’s (or Ethan’s) head, but weeks go by without anything happening. Although this makes sense because Ben is avoiding Ethan, it makes it difficult to get into the story until about 35% of the way in. Everything seems skimmed over though, without much detail. Thankfully everything snaps back into focus with a detailed description of the hotel dining room for a Railers dinner. The book comes alive, with Stan and Ten, when Ryker convinces Scott and Benoit to go to a Railers game and hangout with his dads after. You do not have to know or have read about these characters to read this book–it was like the authors didn’t have a focus for the writing itself until this scene, when the reader is finally given enough details to actually picture the surroundings.

Benoit’s story really clicks into place when he and Ethan are a couple, spending time together, and stops worrying about what everyone else is doing. This is the writing at its best. There is a plot point that gets shoved in the background and pulled back out later to be used as a source of conflict. All this did for me was really highlight the age differences between Benoit and Ethan, making a HEA less believable. I personally would call this an HFN because they are not on equal footing and Benoit’s lack of maturity shows in how he deals with conflict. Some of the best scenes in the book were the ice hockey games at the end; this also highlighted the other parts of the book that were supposed to be suspenseful, but weren’t. Overall this was a good trilogy featuring college players and this book was a way to tie up any lose ends for Benoit, Ryker, Jacob, Scott, and Haynes. It gave the authors new characters to mention later. The next phase seems to be a new series with Ryker playing for the Arizona Raptors with Aarni, the guy who hurt his father’s fiance, which will pull the reader back into the NHL.

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RJ Scott’s Website

V.L. Locey’s Website

*P.S. These authors are amazing at being non Amazon exclusive. They do a lot of work moving their books in and out of KU to allow their fans to buy from other platforms/formats. If you are reading this post way after it is written, the best way to know what books are on sale where, and for how long, is to subscribe to their newsletters.

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