Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: Tramps and Thieves
SERIES: Murder and Mayhem #2
AUTHOR: Rhys Ford
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 220 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 18th, 2017
Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.
Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.
For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.
When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.
Tramps and Thieves picks up a bit after Murder and Mayhem ends, with Rook and Dante an established couple. Rook’s memorabilia store has been rebuilt, and Manny, Dante’s awesome uncle has taken on the task of store manager. This leaves Rook with plenty of time to indulge his hobbies of searching out unique collectibles, and breaking in to his cousin’s house. Which is where we find him at the beginning of the book! Rook is there to take back a Maltese Falcon statue that his cousin Harold managed to acquire out from under Rook’s nose, so Rook simply decides to take it back. With the help of Harold’s wife, Sadonna. Of course it doesn’t go as planned and Rook ends up accused of killing Harold, as he is pretty much caught red-handed. The cop assigned the case has it in for Rook, and the only one with any chance of getting him out of this mess is Dante. And his partner Hank Camden.
So let me talk about the murder part of the plot first. Rook is accused of murdering his cousin Harold, which is bad enough, but things get even worse when other deaths start to occur. Rook isn’t even safe, as he is attacked as well. There is a lot going on with this aspect of book, I liked it just fine, but I will say I was less interested in the murder investigation, and more interested in how it affected the relationship between Rook and Dante. Not to say there was anything wrong with that part of the plot at all, it moved quickly and was creative, but I was really invested in the two men. The murder was the catalyst for what was happening with Rook and Dante.
Which leads me to the relationship part. With series based around the same two characters, authors can have a harder time with the relationship aspect since the will-they-won’t-they question has usually been answered by the end of the first book. I know, this is not always the case, but usually. And with this series that is the case. Rook and Dante are together as a couple at the end of the first book, we assume anyway. So what kept my interest in the relationship between this established couple? Rook’s emotional weakness. For as strong as he is on the outside, he’s remarkably vulnerable. This whole mess just wrecks him emotionally. Bad shit keeps happening to him on a personal basis, and he comes apart several times. Archie, who we thought at the end of the last book was ok, goes after Rook and just about breaks his heart. Cause he is apparently an asshole. He feels physically vulnerable as well, as he is attacked or threatened a couple of times. His place of business is attacked again. He already has trust issues, and people fuck with him in this book, reinforcing his mistrust. The only thing that keeps Rook’s heart together is Dante. Always Dante. He protects him emotionally and physically, and I never really felt that Rook was going to run, even though Dante probably thought that. They really are better as a pair than as individuals. Then there is the sex….. as always Rhys Ford knows how to write a fucking sex scene! Emotional, intense, and sexy. Perfect.
Rhys is obviously a very strong and creative author, and she sets a good scene. This one got a little flowery in the descriptions at times, usually she’s a little more straightforward, but that didn’t ruin anything, just made me roll my eyes now and then. I love how she uses her cities as another character, in this case it’s Los Angeles. Rook and Dante visit several places I’ve been to, and I could see and smell where they were. The murdery bits were also quite descriptive, good thing/bad thing, as there were some icky parts! I always feel immersed in her books, and sometimes find it hard to pull myself out and get back to the real world.
This one has a great ending, the murder part is solved, so there is no cliffhanger, but a thing does happen right at the very end that had me ready to read the next book! Which we’ll have to wait for….
I think you could read this as a standalone book if you had to, but I would very much recommend reading Murder and Mayhem first. You just won’t get the true depth of these characters if you don’t have the start to their story. Both are fantastic books, with well written creative plots, interesting characters with a deep emotional bond, and excellent sex scenes! Exactly what I want!