Released after five years in the system for assault, streetwise Edgar-Allen Church is ready to leave the past behind and finally look to his future. In need of a place to crash, he's leaning on Miller Quinn. A patient, solidly masculine pillar of strength and support, Miller has always been there for him—except in the one way Church has wanted the most.
With his staunchly conservative upbringing, Miller has been playing it straight his whole life. Now with Church so close again, it's getting harder to keep his denial intact. As they fumble their way back to friendship after so many years apart, Miller struggles to find the courage to accept who he really is. What he has with Church could be more than desire—it could be love. But it could also mean trouble.
Church's criminal connections are closing in on the both of them, and more than their hearts are at risk. This time, their very lives are on the line.
Sidney Bell is a new to me author and-spoiler alert-I'm impressed with her writerly skills. Within the first few pages I began to feel the first tingles of that romancelandia magic spell being woven that I love so much.
Loose Cannon is the first in The Woodbury Boys series and Church's story. I'm not sure how many books are planned but his two friends from Woodbury Residential Center are Tobias and Ghost who I'm hoping each get their own books. I'll come back to Ghost in a minute.
Church ends up at Woodbury for assault. Long story short-shitterific childhood with crappy parents combined with a bad night when he let his anger get the best of him. Church is by no means perfect and that's precisely what I loved about him. Bell did a phenomenal job crafting a gritty character. I loved being inside his head and experiencing his struggle to control his emotions. To say that I admire him sounds condescending but makes it no less true. He's one of the most perceptive, honest and fundamentally generous characters and it was a pleasure watching him evolve. He did a shitty thing as a kid that shouldn't define him for rest of his life and the more time I spent inside his head the more amazing he became.
Church has been in love with Miller since he made him scrambled eggs after catching him with one foot out the window with his TV. They meet prior to Church being sent to Woodbury and there are some flashbacks as both he and Miller fill in their backstory. Their relationship is rife with the kind of sexual tension that back builds and doubles over on itself.
Miller is slightly older and... I hate to say closeted because, quite frankly, I don't think he really knows if he's bi or gay because he thought he was straight. Until Church moves in, that is. Church is no longer a kid. He's all grown up and Miller keeps reacting to him in unexpected ways. Loose Cannon, through Miller's internal dialogue and characterization, examines in an insightful, poignant and thoughtful manner the tangled web that is human sexuality. It really shouldn't matter who he's attracted to, but he's been indoctrinated by a fire and brimstone family so he doesn't know what to think or do or say. He shouldn't have to "come out" over and over again. He shouldn't have to worry that people are judging him or worse for something he has no control over. But he does. It's not easy for him to accept what's happening between he and Church. Being honest with himself is a challenge so voicing what's going on in his head to someone else? Yeah, no. Which I found realistic and made me want to hug him, but if you need your MCs to communicate effectively, tread carefully.
Both of these characters are complex and expertly drawn and their romance is the kind that I find most satisfying. There's nothing I love more than two people who are not only are crazy about each other but who are good for each other. Church and Miller are and we're shown how good they are for each other again and again. Bell even threw in some cosseting. I ❤️ a good cosset. They have an innate connection and their witty banter highlights it and provides levity.
There is angst and they have to work to be together but that difficulty and struggle is what makes this read so worthwhile, IMO. Miller's got so much baggage to unpack and make sense of before they can really get to the sex. There is some and their first time was passionate and funny and did I mention Miller's the bigger of the two? *eyebrows* It's probably the most relatable sex scene I've ever read because what's better than being able to laugh during the sexy times with your lobster?
Now, Ghost. Ghost is a living, breathing, lethal enigma wrapped in a paradox, cloaked in a femme physique, boy shorts and guyliner. I have a feeling his story is going to break me and I honestly cannot wait to be broken. Bell struck a great balance between the romance and the suspense. The suspense storyline is not complete and Ghost is going to be instrumental in it. There is a Russian crime family that Ghost arranges a job for Church at one of their legit businesses. Naturally, something bad happens then one of the brothers becomes fixated on Church. This is really the only plot point that I struggled with a time or two because Vasya is an untrustworthy and volatile dumbass. I don't know why his brothers would follow him but whatevs, it certainly made for some edge of my seat reading.
Lena is the matriarch of this family and she's as cold as ice. And she wants Ghost for something. Alls I'm saying is if she fucks with my boy I will Gogo her fictional ass.
I don't wanna. But I will so don't test me, Lena.
Recommend to all romance and suspense fans, but fair warning you'll be hooked on a new series.
A review copy was provided by NetGalley.
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