Title : Sinner’s Gin
Series : Sinners Series, Book #1
Author : Rhys Ford
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 260 pages (e-book)
Published : December 24, 2012
Rating : ★★★★
There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.
After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.
Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.
Sinner’s Gin was a Christmas present — a wonderful gem of a gift. It is the first novel in a new four-part series by Rhys Ford (author of The Cole McGinnis Mysteries) and there are several things in this book that speak to me: mystery, a hot rocker guy, a hot cop guy and suspense. Oh yeah, Miki and Kane won me over completely and they are smokin’.
Sexy Meiko “Miki” St. John is living the glamorous rocker lifestyle with his band, Sinner’s Gin, on the night they receive the music industry’s highest award. The band is celebrating their stardom when their limousine is broadsided. In that grinding car crash, Miki loses everything — his family of band mates, his future and himself. Injured and overwhelmed by pain, the sole survivor is drinking away his memories, keeping company with the only pal he tolerates: a thieving terrier that hangs with him and won’t go away.
Kane Morgan — the Irish police inspector who comes from a family of cops and lives next door — follows the thieving pooch to Miki’s door one afternoon in search of pilfered goods from his woodworking studio. Kane recognizes the enigmatic, stunning “beautiful man” from posters on his younger sister’s walls and Dude becomes a match-making mutt. Hey, this works.
The two men find themselves thrown together a few days later when the man who sexually abused Miki when he was a boy is murdered and his body is dumped in the singer’s GTO just outside the warehouse. Kane and his partner, Sanchez, investigate Miki as the primary suspect. In time, circumstances point to Miki being a target in the horrifying murders.
As the murder investigation progresses, Kane learns Miki’s mother abandoned him as a baby and he wandered the streets. Later, Miki was placed in the foster-care system, where he was abused. Kane can’t get his attraction to Miki or the singer’s background out of his mind. However, that’s bad, given Kane’s job and the investigation he is conducting. Under scrutiny by his superior officer, Kane races to save Miki from becoming a victim, while Miki reaches into his abusive background for clues to the murders and faces the horrors of his foster care. His strength and vulnerability are amazing. The reliving of those abusive moments is difficult to read and you will ache for Miki.
Kane, who is developing serious feelings for Miki, recognizes how scarred Miki is from the abuse, so the two nurture a friendship. As secrets are revealed and the murder count climbs, so do the emotions and passion between Miki and Kane. The gentle, romantic moments and eventual lovemaking between Kane and Miki are touching. “I can see you. Do you know that?” Kane whispered as he kissed the corner of Miki’s mouth. “When you are about to open up to me, then something inside of you pulls in. It’s like watching a flower die right in front of me, Miki love. And it kills me every time. Talk to me, Miki. Tell me what’s going on inside that pretty head of yours so I don’t have to watch you die in front of me.”
I love this world Rhys Ford creates of subcultures thriving in San Francisco — Korean, Irish, LGBT, Hispanic, police department, music — undulating and merging as danger and tension build. I want to meet Kane’s family: his mom, Brigid; older gay brother, Quinn; and his dad, Donal. They all circle the wagons to protect Miki and Kane. This bunch is loud, endearing, overbearing, loving and funny. Miki’s interactions with Brigid are a hoot, seriously. I hope we see them again. Donal’s private conversation with Miki about Kane’s life choices should be a primer for parents — all parents.
“I taught my sons to be men. I don’t care who they love. I care about how they act. The moment they stop having manners or treat someone poorly, then we’ll have words. Other than that, I only want them to be happy, and if you make Kane happy, then all I have to say to ye is welcome to the family.”
I love Rhys Ford’s writing style — especially her dialogue, her characters and I love this cover. As I read, I smiled, laughed out loud and cried — not much more to ask from a book. And, the cliffhanger in the last chapter caught me by surprise, but I have to say I’m looking forward to the next book just to see how that is resolved.
The only quibbles I have about the writing are the revelation of the killer and why Miki puts himself in that place in the last chapters. The timeline jumped several months with no explanation, and the ending felt rushed and, for me, didn’t mesh with the detailed buildup before it. The actions of the main characters felt out of whack and that took me out of the story.
That said, this is a gem and it could be the start of something big — big-time good work in a compelling series by an excellent author.
Rated 4 stars by Carli