Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: Alpha Chef
SERIES: J.T.’s Bar #2
AUTHOR: Sue Brown
PUBLISHER: One Hat Press
LENGTH: 250 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 27th, 2017
When Greg Mitchelson’s home is torched and his employer killed, Greg fears it’s retribution for his past testimony against a notorious drug gang. Alone, with no money and only the clothes on his back, Greg turns to Colm Riordan, the Deputy US Marshall who’s protected Greg for the last 3 years. But Riordan doesn’t return Greg’s phone calls, and the local Marshal’s office refuses to help him.
In desperation, Greg goes on the run to Wyoming to find his brother, Mitch, whom he hasn’t seen in over a decade. As he reconnects with his brother, Riordan appears, searching for his missing witness. But Greg needs the answers to a lot of questions before he’ll trust Riordan again. Why didn’t he return Greg’s call? Is Riordan there to help Greg – or kill him?
Alpha Chef picks up right where Alpha Barman left off, and continues the story of a group of men involved with a small bar in Wyoming called J.T’s Bar. In Alpha Barman, we met Jake Tyler (the J and T of J.T.’s Bar), as he is rebuilding his life after leaving a special ops group. His sister was murdered by his best friend and fellow team member, Riley. After Riley was convicted, Jake quit his job and left his lover, also a fellow team member, and headed to Wyoming where he buys a bar. Eventually Jake and Mitch, the abandoned lover, reunite and Mitch also quits the team to settle in Wyoming and help run Jake’s bar. At the very end of the book, a man walks in to the bar, and Mitch recognizes him as his long-lost brother Greg.
This book is Greg’s story… Greg is the younger brother of a perfect son, and always a disappointment to his parents. Once they found out he was gay, they booted him out of the house. Greg made his way to Los Angeles, and while on a job interview manages to witness a gang shooting, plays dead, and eventually goes in to witness protection. After many years, several moves, and multiple handlers, he’s once again on the run. This time he can’t reach his handler Colm Riordan, or Riordan’s partner. He realizes something is happening at the Marshall’s office, and he can’t trust anyone. He is left with no option other than to find his brother. Who he hasn’t seen since before he left home. So he heads to Wyoming and walks in to J.T.’s Bar. Imagine his surprise, when he finds his brother and his male lover!
Mitch could not be happier to see his brother, and the two quickly catch up. Mitch immediately wants to help Greg, and he and Jake offer him a job and a place to stay. But before Greg can even settle in, Riordan shows up, informing him that the guy who wants him dead has been released from prison and is headed his way. What follows is an action packed story of Riordan trying to keep Greg alive, with the help of Mitch and his friends. All while the two fall in love…
So I had some issues with this book, and with Alpha Barman, which I just read. My big problem is that you can clearly tell that both of these books are written by someone who doesn’t live in the US. Even the name of the first book. I’ve never heard anyone called a barman in the US. Admittedly I don’t hang out in bars in Wyoming, but that just isn’t what we call the guys that serve drinks. That’s a bartender. There was a phrase used in both books that I had to look up, “like chalk and cheese”, which appears to be a British phrase, not something I’ve ever heard. There were a few other smaller things like that, plus a few editing issues. It was all enough to pull me out of the story.
I liked Greg and Colm quite a bit. I liked the bond that formed between them as the story progressed, it was clear to me that Colm cared about Greg, both on a personal level and a profession level. The plot started off ok for me, but then it got to be really unbelievable. It wasn’t clear how the bad guy was able to track down Greg so easily, or even why he was so hot to kill Greg. There was a weird thing involving Colm’s partner that didn’t make sense to me. But I did like the inclusion of Mitch and Jake, and the other guys at the bar, and there is a good thing that happens involving family that worked very well for me toward the end. I liked how Greg’s character developed throughout the story, Colm was harder for me to get a read on, but I liked Greg. There were several really nice sex scenes between the two men, and I liked how their story ended.
I feel like both of these books had potential, but needed to be edited by someone in the US who could catch the British-isms and the typos. Also some clean up on the plots, there was just so much that I couldn’t accept in both stories. I generally like books written by Sue Brown, her Morning Report series is fantastic, she’s also got a series about a veterinarian office that I enjoyed too. But I think the plots in both of the books in this series got away from her a bit.
If you are looking for an action filled book with some good sex scenes, and are ok with an unrealistic plot, then by all means read this book. Read Alpha Barman first though, or you won’t know who these guys are.