Title: Fish Out of Water
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 270 Pages
At a Glance: Fish Out of Water is an incredibly thrilling mystery and deeply satisfying romance. I can honestly and happily highly recommend it to you!
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: PI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.
Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.
Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s spiraled out of control.
Review: I wish it weren’t so, but I’m about to gush. It’s not that I love every novel I‘ve read by author Amy Lane, but it is a rare thing that I find one I don’t care for. I will admit that when it comes to being the queen of angst, she has that title wrapped up for sure. I was grateful that this novel didn’t come with heaps of that, even though it still made my heart race and my throat clench more often than not. What it did have, however, was incredibly well written, fully fleshed out characters. Most notable in this particular work came down to the men that the author created, and, in this case, the women as well. She writes strong people, capable of more than they ever dreamed possible and determined to do the right thing, even though sometimes they take the worst way around getting to that point. I can’t begin to express how much I loved Fish Out of Water, so let me get on with my review.
Jackson Rivers had very little going for him from a very early age. His mother, a drug addict and teenage parent at the age of fifteen, was selfishly ill-equipped to raise her son. As luck would have it, Jackson found another family to claim him as their own. Kaden, his wife, Rhonda, and his sister, Jade, have become the anchors in Jackson’s life. Growing up in a poverty-ridden and dangerous neighborhood, the four of them developed an unbreakable bond. In their neck of the woods, dirty cops were more common than the honest ones. So when Jackson enters the police force, determined to be one of the good guys, imagine his absolute despair when his partner, someone he had looked up to and respected, was dirty and on the take. He agrees to wear a wire to bring the police officer to justice, and, seemingly, that’s exactly what happens. But not is all as it seems, and little did Jackson know the past would come back to haunt him some eight years later.
In a bizarre turn of circumstances, the gas station that Kaden is part owner at becomes a crime scene, with a dead cop, and Kaden being arrested as his killer. Now Jackson must turn to a man he’s watched win one difficult court case after another and hope that this is a lawyer who will be willing to go the distance in uncovering what turns out to be widespread corruption.
Ellery had grown up with a literal silver spoon in his mouth. While his childhood may have been lonely, it was also lived in the finest schools, with the best of everything from clothing to food, available. In short, he had it all, including a fast track to making partner in his current firm. The one thing this up-and-coming lawyer doesn’t have is someone to call his own. Like Jackson, Ellery has watched the private investigator who works at his firm over the years. Not knowing Jackson’s past, all he sees is a man who likes to play fast and loose sexually, and yet never seems to make an enemy of a former lover. Little does he know that’s because Jackson never sleeps with a person twice. If there’s one thing that Jackson has learned, it’s how to guard his heart and keep from being hurt. Emotional attachments always bring pain, and other than loving his ugly cat that’s on the prowl more than Jackson, his heart is safely encased in iron. It just so happens that Ellery has the ability to melt just about anything. These two totally opposite men forge a team determined to save Jackson’s family and bring down corrupt city officials–if they don’t end up dead first.
Before I get to Jackson and Ellery, I want to address the two women who stood out in this novel. First was Jade, Jackson’s sometimes lover and loyal friend. Early on in the novel, Jade realizes that Jackson will never be a man who will commit and become the partner she desires, but that does not keep her from being fiercely protective of him, particularly when it comes to Ellery. She doesn’t trust the lawyer and most definitely doesn’t feel that, despite his wealth, he will ever be good enough for Jackson. She is tough as nails and yet the most fascinating spitfire of a woman I’ve read about in a long time in m/m fiction. So often women’s parts in gay contemporary novels are relegated to simpering bitches who have an ax to grind, and wear gay men like pretty bracelets. Not so in this case. Between her and Ellery’s mother, who hands-down was the ballsiest woman I’ve ever read, I was delighted to read about women of depth who were respectfully drawn characters.
Now, onto our two heroes. To say that Jackson Rivers absolutely melted my heart over and over again during this novel would be an understatement. His belief that his life had no value, that he deserved no real happiness romantically, and that without his adopted family he was virtually nothing, permeated every moment of his time on the page. And yet, this deeply wounded man who’d had his dream of being a good cop ripped from him, constantly gets back up to fight against the system that nearly destroyed him. I dare you to read this novel and not end up rooting for this guy. When Ellery comes into his life, I think I actually cheered out loud. Despite his rich boy persona, Ellery, too, is a fighter and is determined not to give up on Jackson despite how much the guy fights him tooth and nail. The often witty and sharp dialogue between the two of them, the incredible chemistry and heat that develops as they work closely together, all combined to make for the most dynamic relationship. I was besotted with the two of them by the end of this novel, and I sincerely hope that Amy Lane is planning a sequel. There is no cliffhanger at the end of this story, and yet there are a few threads left open and dangling. Still, this novel does come to completion in the best of ways. But I want more, much more of these two men.
Fish Out of Water is an incredibly thrilling mystery and deeply satisfying romance. I can honestly and happily highly recommend it to you!
You can buy Fish Out of Water here: