“Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. ” ― Rainer Maria Rilke
In Holed Up Mark Beecher inadvertently hears a terrorist plotting an attack on the US through the outdated ventilation system in his apartment building. After waffling back and forth for sometime, Mark goes to the FBI with what he knows. It is revealed that there is an informant in the Detroit office of the FBI. Aaron Pearce, being his boss’s least favorite agent is assigned to go from his home office on Washington D.C. to Detroit to keep Mark Beecher safe until the trial in a little over a week.
Shortly after Pearce arrives and meets Mark at the Detroit office, there is an attack on both of their lives. They run through the streets, unable to get to Pearce’s rental car. Mark knows a place they can stay. He says it is the loft of a friend of a friend who is out of town on business. Pearce thinks Mark knows his way around the loft too well, including where the spare key is hidden, for the “friend” to have been all that distant.
While Holed Up together, Mark and Pearce give in to the attraction they feel for one another, even though Pearce is leery of getting involved after having had his heart broken by a fellow FBI agent. It seems an idyllic situation, two men strongly attracted to one another stuck alone in a comfortable apartment for a week. How much fun would that be to read?
One of the times Pearce goes out to get dinner, he is grabbed by the informant. Having set up a signal with Mark ahead of time, Mark is able to escape before Pearce and his assailant get inside the apartment. While Pearce is held captive, Mark realizes he might actually care about Pearce and comes to his aid. Pearce is injured, and the informant escapes.
In Shacked Up, a couple of months have gone by and Mark is now living in Washington D.C. with Aaron. Mark isn’t entirely happy with the arrangement. His belongings are still in boxes in the spare bedroom at Pearce‘s apartment. He is working as a catering assistant, when he was a chef in Detroit. Pearce is also miserable. Not with his home life, that’s pretty great as far as he’s concerned. But he is stuck riding a desk while he recovers from the injuries he suffered in Detroit.
Pearce is running data base searches for the other agents. He feels like his skills are being wasted. He takes an interest in another agent’s case and gets his hand slapped and another month tagged on to the desk duty. Not a happy camper. At the same time, Mark has noticed a car tailing him to and from work daily. Both men are guarded because they know the identity of the informant and that he hasn’t been apprehended yet. They are worried that he will come after one or both of them.
At Mark’s job, things are looking a little hinky. Co-workers disappearing at functions for long periods of time with no explanation other than the old stand by “I was looking for the bathroom.” One employee having a closed door meeting with a man in the owner’s office. That same employee somehow came upon the information that Mark’s boyfriend works for the FBI. When Mark had the chance, he snooped in her purse and saw a gun. Mark is getting really worried, between the strangeness at work and the car following him.
Soon the identity of the driver of the car is discovered by Pearce. It is a man he had a one night stand with right before he went to Detroit and met Mark. The driver has become obsessed with Pearce. Since the informant is also a man Pearce used to sleep with, Mark is beginning to doubt his choice to move his entire life to Washington D.C. to be with Pearce.
The data base searches Pearce has been running bring to his attention a pattern of missing data cards from the homes of high ranking government employees. After further searching on behalf of a fellow agent, he learns that the catering company Mark works for has catered all of the events where the data cards went missing. When Mark’s boss asks him if he knows any cater waiters to help out at a dinner party they are catering at the Speaker of the House’s home, the perfect opportunity presents itself. Pearce and Izzie, the agent involved in the case, go under cover as servers.
The pattern remains the same. The catering employees disappear and Mark is left alone in the kitchen to cook dinner for fifty people when all hell breaks loose. It involves burnt chicken, multiple guns, a couple of government agencies, several bad guys and a few injuries (including Mark) before the mystery is solved.
These two stories flowed at a nice pace. It wasn’t an insta love situation. It was instalust for sure. The two men came together often and it was hot! Mark and Pearce both struggled with the adjustment of living with someone for the first time. Once they started communicating better, things improved and Pearce realized he hadn’t made a home for Mark. I like how Hank Edwards unfolded the personal side of the story right along side the mystery. It wasn’t more one or the other, but the perfect blend of the two. I am well aware that the informant is still at large.
I am happy to report that the third installment in this series Roughed Up is now available from Loose ID and Amazon. The fourth and as yet untitled volume will be out sometime in 2014.