Title: Alpha Barman (J.T.’s Bar: Book One)
Author: Sue Brown
Length: 150 Pages (Kindle)
Category: Contemporary, Suspense/Thriller
At a Glance: If you are looking for fluff or men who ask questions first and act second, then this story will not be the one for you—but, if you like your men tough and resilient, then read on.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Jake Tyler walked out of Covert Ops two years ago, a devastated, broken man after he discovered his sister brutally murdered by her husband, Riley. Since then he’s found a kind of peace running a rural bar. The last thing Jake Tyler expects is his former team to turn up with grim news. Jake’s ex-brother-in-law has escaped from prison and is heading Jake’s way. The team is here to protect Jake, whether he likes it or not – a decision reluctantly shared by their leader, Jake’s ex-lover Mitch Mitchelson.
Mitch is angry and hurting. The man he trusted – the man he adored more than anything – abandoned both his team and Mitch. Jake never gave Mitch a chance to help or come to terms with his desertion. Regardless of mission protocols, Mitch isn’t about to open his heart again to that kind of pain.
But the strong attraction between them can’t be denied. How are they ever going to work together when Mitch still resents Jake’s disappearance, and to Jake, the team represents everything that destroyed him in the first place? And meantime they wait for Riley to find them… and to settle the threat once and for all.
Review: If there were a definition for the phrase “sexual tension” it would most surely be found in author Sue Brown’s latest release, Alpha Barman. Not only is this story loaded with testosterone fueled action, it is also a glorious window into the tight bonds formed between military-like units that are set up for the sole purpose of extraction and protection. Yes, they may have to kill in order to keep the good guys safe, but these are men who take their roles seriously and who redefine the idea of “having one’s back” in a tight situation.
The story appears to be a simple one, yet the emotions that fuel the plot are complex and multi-layered. When Jake arrives at Riley’s house to find him standing over a dead body, dripping knife in his hand, the only thing he can understand is that the man he has called his best friend for most of their lives has just appeared to murder Jake’s sister, Riley’s wife. Without any other thought, Jake becomes the star witness in a circumstantial case against one of their own team–a brother in every sense–and is responsible for having Riley put away in prison. But his sister’s death has taken a toll—one that Jake is not sure he can ever recover from, and the only thing he is sure about is the need to resign from the team and put it far behind him—that includes his closeted lover and team leader, Mitch.
The two had been hiding their relationship for quite some time, and when Jake’s world splits in two, he runs—far from the team and farther from Mitch. He opens a run-down bar in Wyoming, and lives in anonymity for almost two years. But the past has a way of catching up to a person, and when the team suddenly arrives on his doorstep with the news that Riley has escaped, Jake realizes he must face his demons once and for all. It surely doesn’t help that his attraction for Mitch is alive and well and still mutual. Now the race begins to outwit Riley and make sure he doesn’t murder again.
If you are looking for fluff or men who ask questions first and act second, then this story will not be the one for you—but, if you like your men tough and resilient, then read on because the one real strength Alpha Barman has is that it’s packed full of fascinating characters who know their own minds and won’t stop at much to get what they want. This team of guys is disciplined and sharp. They play hard and fight clean, but it’s their loyalty and care for each other that really stand out. They are not afraid to call each other out if they feel that their brother has his head up his proverbial ass. When Jake’s thoughts about Riley’s guilt runs contrary to the rest of the team, they are the first to confront him with questions that he had just been too emotionally overwhelmed to address before. The same goes for Mitch and Jake—there is definite unfinished business with these two, and that sexual tension I mentioned at the beginning of this review is front and center in every interaction they have with each other.
However, before I lead you to believe this is just a alpha mix ‘em up, with sex thrown in for good measure, I will tell you that there is such genuine remorse and pain in Jake and, by association, Mitch, that the tender moments these two allow themselves to share are really good. Theirs is a story of near lost chances and the work they must do to reconcile or say goodbye for good is real and raw. But author Sue Brown doesn’t just give us two interesting characters in this story; instead, she offers up a supporting cast who mesh together so well it is plain to see how these guys became the elite force they are known for being. The dialogue between them is biting and smart, peppered with humor and a sense of camaraderie that is both refreshing and delightful to read.
While Alpha Barman could have given us a bit more action, particularly in the second half of the story, it does leave us with a thrilling ending that is not exactly a cliffhanger, but rather, a tease that alludes to the next story in what I hope will be a long series for this author. There is so much left to explore with this daring group of men, and I’m hopeful that we will get to see these guys in full on fighting mode in the future.
You can buy Alpha Barman here:
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