My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the Fog City series than this book.
There are a few authors I know I shouldn’t start to read after 10pm at night because I simply will not be able to put their book down until I have finished it.
Layla Reyne is one of those authors, and her Fog City series has been an exemplar lesson in why I know this fact.
Which is why I didn’t get to sleep until gone 3.30am because I just couldn’t tear myself away from this powerful example of the steadfastness of a real and unshakeable love.
Brax and Holt are everything which dreams are made of, a solid foundation of friendship which blossoms after hard trials into a love for the ages, a relationship which isn’t perfect but which is absolutely right for the two men at the heart of it.
The premise at the heart of this series has been about family. How they are the ones you can rely on, but also the ones who can wound you the deepest.
Each of the Madigan siblings has gone through the mill to reach their happy ending, Holt’s perhaps being the hardest because he thought he’d already found it with his ex-wife Amelia.
And, speaking of, her actions here both broke my heart at the selflessness she shows, and also made me want to envelop her in the biggest hug possible, because she also goes through her own journey in coming to terms with events in the previous books.
This is a suspense series, so of course the main thrust of the narrative surrounds the team trying to find out who is targeting Brax in his role as Chief of Police. But we also get to discover why Brax has bent the rules whenever he can for the Madigans in a series of flashbacks which form the first part of the book.
For me it was an inspired decision, Layla gives us Braxton’s POV for the first time and we get into the heart of his devotion. He fell for Holt the second the 20-year-old scared Private First Class stepped off the transport plane out in the war zone deserts and his love never wavered.
Such devotion is hard to write without making the character look like a sad sack, but it is done here with such skill that you will fall for Holt too as you see him grow through Brax’s eyes.
Holt’s demisexuality is also brilliantly explored and we finally get to see the one night they spent together before life took them in different directions after Holt’s discharge. It’s beautiful in both the level of trust given and in the heartbreaking knowledge that almost a decade has passed since those feelings were given free rein between the two.
Honestly, I could rhapsodise about this book for hours because I have been waiting for Brax and Holt’s story almost since page one of Prince of Killers and I was trying not to have unrealistic expectations for their story.
But my faith was as solid as Brax’s and it was rewarded with a masterclass in how to interweave a romance with a suspense plot that drives a narrative pace which has your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping from beginning to the very happy end.
As for all the Easter Egg appearances of some of my absolute favourite characters of all time (read Layla’s Whiskeyverse series’ if you haven’t yet because they’re exceptional!), they just added the icing onto a truly perfect cake.
#ARC kindly received from the author via Valentine PR in return for an honest and unbiased review