Reviewed by Caroline & Dan
TITLE: Then & Forever
SERIES: Guns & Hoses #4
AUTHOR: Brenda Cothern
PUBLISHER: Wench Publishing, Inc.
LENGTH: 210 Pages
RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2017
Officer Jake Silverstone was content to be alone and only hooking up to satisfy his needs. He’d already had the love of his life and after he gave his heart away twelve years ago and had it shattered into a million pieces, knew he would never risk that kind of pain again.
Cody Kidd made the biggest mistake of his life when he allowed his father to send him away from the man he loved. Now that his father was dead and buried, he could return to the man who still owned his heart. The most he could hope for was forgiveness, but he was determined to have more because without the love of his life, he really had no life at all.
Then & Forever is the latest book in the Guns and Hoses Universe and instead of being about the men at the Firehouse this one sees us inside the Police Department. This is a friends to lovers, enemies to lovers and a second chance story. But before any of that happens you have to understand the history and it’s one of miscommunication, deep lasting hurt and a love so deep that a 12 year absence hasn’t changed how both these men feel.
Jake Silverstone left school and joined the Police Academy – which is exactly what he had planned to do but he hadn’t planned on doing it alone. He’s good at his job but after having his heart broken as a teen his personal life has been non-existent. He has a small group of friends, an even smaller group that know who he really is, and every now and again the odd hook-up to scratch an itch. Cody Kidd gave up the only important thing in his life twelve years ago out of a sense of duty but his sacrifice has never stopped hurting. He has finally been able to return home and is the new rookie at the Tampa Police Department – better late than never! His partner on the force is Jake and for the first time in over a decade these ex-lovers come face to face and have to deal with their pasts.
This story felt a little different to what Brenda usually gives us and the whole twelve years of yearning that the story begins with felt a bit farfetched. Cody spent a lot of the time walking on egg shells and in all honesty it could have gone either way for most of the story as the hurt ran that deep and forgiveness wasn’t quick in coming.
Some parts of the story, particularly the conversations, were difficult to follow as it jumped backwards and forwards between the two men. There were also enough editing issues that it was difficult not to be thrown out of the story, oftentimes these were very basic errors that could and should have been picked up easily before publishing. I have enjoyed a lot of Brenda’s books but this was not one of my favourites.
I really like this author, and Guns & Hoses is personally my favorite of her series. I’m going to keep it brutally honest here though and say that this one didn’t work that well for me. I’m not going to just dump that out there and not explain, so let me give you my impressions.
I found this particular installment to be a little unbelievable to start. We have one MC, Jacob Silverstone, whose heart was ripped out twelve years previously when his long-term boyfriend, Cody, left for the military instead of going to college and becoming a police officer with Jacob. And he did it in secret. He said he would meet Jacob the next morning, and never showed up. Then Cody’s father told Jacob that Cody had enlisted in the army, where they would make a true man out of him.
Now it is twelve years later, and Jacob, who now goes by Jake, stops a motorcycle hurtling across the Tampa city line. When the bike stops, and the man removes his helmet, it is Cody. Jake is less than thrilled and gives him a ticket and goes on his way, furious that Cody has shown up in Tampa again.
Then Jake shows up at work to find out his new trainee/partner is none other than Cody Kidd. The same Cody that tore his heart out all those years ago. Sparks fly, but not good ones. This was where I kind of disconnected. The two men danced around each other, neither wanting to tell the other that they were still in love with the other, until they did, and then they had a fist fight… etc, all on their way to a HEA. Kind of unbelievable.
My biggest problem with this book was the head hopping. The viewpoint changed from one sentence to another, and I was never quite sure whose head I was in. I had to pause a few times to catch up. I understand what the author was trying to do with the constant back and forth, but it might have worked better with breaks in between. There was also a spot where they were talking about shrapnel, which seemed to allude to someone being lost when Cody was wounded with shrapnel, but it was dropped instantly after one line, so I’m not sure. That section needed more.
Finally, a smaller pet peeve, the book was riddled with small errors. From the motorcycle rider being asked for an insurance card (which would only stick out to a Florida biker like myself because Florida ridiculously doesn’t require insurance to operate a motorcycle), to one name being incorrect (Jake instead of John), to quite a few words being either incorrect or the wrong tense.
As I said in the beginning, I really like this author, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I was disappointed in this current offering.