Title : Undercover Cruising
Collection : Eostre’s Basket #1
Author : Cheryl Dragon
Publisher : Loose Id (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary, Holidays
Length : 82 pages (e-book)
Published : March 10, 2014
Rating : ★★1/2
FBI Special Agent Carlos Perez is undercover on a cruise ship, working to find and stop criminals targeting gay passengers. He’ll only get one chance to crack this case, so he has to stay on task. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem for the experienced agent, but normally, he wouldn’t be falling in love on the job.
When Stuart “Red” Redmond takes a last-minute vacation over Easter, he’s thrilled to find his sexy coffeehouse regular on the same cruise. For months he’s been hoping that Carlos would ask him out, but both of them have been too busy working. What better time to have a first date than on a cruise?
What should’ve been smooth sailing on both work and relationship fronts turns to rough waters. Red knows Carlos well enough to poke holes in his cover, and while Carlos trusts Red to keep it under wraps, that knowledge puts him in danger. Then a mysterious Sundae’s Easter basket appears in Carlos’s suite. Are the criminals onto him or is something much stranger in play?
Jeff Fontaine returns home after working abroad to find his lover has not only been cheating on him in their personal relationship, but appears to be sabotaging him professionally. At a loss as to what to do with his life Jeff gets an unexpected delivery notifying him of the death of a friend, Mr Rabbit. He’s requested to come back to his hometown in Colorado to hear the terms of the last will and testament. It’s something Jeff has needed to do anyway. He hasn’t been home since his father passed away. Jeff needs to get his father’s home ready for sale and it’s a good time to simply take care of everything. Jeff also receives a shipment of chocolates. They’re in the style of the chocolates produced by the Rabbit family, however the family stopped producing chocolates long ago. Their presence is a mystery. What Jeff didn’t expect was his former best friend and lover, Ashton Eiker, to be the other person listed in the will. They inherit the Rabbit house, which prompted Jeff to become an architect, and they have to complete three tasks within a year. Jeff and Ash don’t really want to work together. They’re both still hurt from their childhood break up. One mystery does get quickly solved. Ash is a chocolatier. He made the chocolates in the style of the Rabbit family, although he didn’t deliver them to Jeff. Despite getting off to a rocky start Jeff and Ash quickly come to the realization they still very much care about each other. They find themselves working together easily on the tasks set to them by Mr. Rabbit’s will. Things start to go bad when Jeff’s now ex-boyfriend starts to become more elaborate in his workplace sabotage of Jeff. Jeff and Ash have to figure out how to stay together and fend off the people attempting to destroy Jeff.
This wasn’t a bad story. I did feel the character had a regular internal dialogue that he would then later repeat in conversations with other people, giving that information to the reader twice. For the most part I just really felt this type of story is just better when it’s written by Josh Lanyon. Hero returns home after boyfriend cheats, check; hero has to deal with deceased parent’s affairs, check; hero and high school boyfriend realize they still love each other after all this time, check; big creepy but beloved house, check; and last but not least, mysterious chocolates, check. Josh Lanyon doesn’t in any way own those scenarios, but he has written them frequently with excellence. Using the same scenarios, and so many of them at the same time, invites comparisons. Be the comparison fair or not, this story did not at all live up to it’s predecessors.
Rated 2.5 stars by Whit