Book Review: A Casual Weekend Thing by A. J. Thomas

Posted: September 25, 2013 by sidlove in 4 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Taylor's Reviews
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Reviewed by Taylor

A Casual Weekend ThingTITLE: A Casual Weekend Thing
AUTHOR: A. J. Thomas
LENGTH: 310 pages
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
BLURB: Doug Heavy Runner left the life of an openly gay Miami police officer and returned to his home on the Salish-Kootenai Indian Reservation when his mother got sick. In the two years since she passed, he’s carved out an empty life as a small-town deputy, relying on out-of-town one-night stands to keep him sane. Then he meets Detective Christopher Hayes, and they share a wild night so incredible Doug breaks his own rule and allows a one-night stand to grow into a weekend of amazing sex.

When Christopher travels from San Diego to Montana to deal with his abusive brother’s suicide, he doesn’t expect to find the man he spent the weekend with to be handling his brother’s case. He certainly doesn’t mind spending more time with Doug—but then an arsonist destroys the house Christopher inherited from his brother, and Christopher and Doug discover they are the primary suspects.

As they investigate, they discover Christopher’s dead brother has set them on the trail of a psychotic pedophile who will stop at nothing to silence his last victim. However, the search for the victim goes horribly wrong, leaving Doug hospitalized and Christopher at the mercy of the killer….

REVIEW:

This was a very enjoyable mystery and romance book from an author I’ve never read before.  There’s a lot going on in the past with both of the main characters, as well as racial tensions in a small town, murder, abuse, a potential love triangle, familial problems, and all the turmoil of emotions that come from these events.

San Diego Detective Christopher Hayes is having a rough time recovering from a gunshot wound to his shoulder after chasing a criminal with the partner he believes he’s been in love with for four years, Detective Ray Delgado.  He receives the news that his brother he hasn’t seen in 12 years has committed suicide in Montana, and on top of that, when he arrives at Ray’s apartment to inform him he’s leaving to attend to matters, he stumbles on his supposedly straight partner with a male one night stand.  Needing the recovery time both from his injury and from the confusion and anger at Ray, he heads to Missoula, Montana thinking he’ll cremate his brother’s remains quickly and go from there.

Stopping along the way in a small town four hours away from Missoula, Christopher meets Doug Heavy Runner, a local law officer in Missoula that discovered Christopher’s dead brother and is in charge of his brother’s case.  The sexual chemistry between these two men is both strong and realistic.  They hook-up repeatedly in Christopher’s hotel room, and later at Doug’s ranch in Missoula.  The author takes time to really build their relationship and growing attraction outside of bedroom activities.  Both men suffer from painful pasts.  Christopher from his own late brother, who was a pedophile, and his foster father that looked after his brother and himself as children.  He has ADD and runs ultra-marathons, as a way to free his headspace, and these aspects show the reader how he’s been on the run ever since he was a child.  He’s fled his family, his abuse, and sought a life that bettered himself and his community.  Doug also had an abusive relationship, except it was with his boyfriend and he frequently has nightmares and panic attacks.  I thought the way the author wrote ADD, the need to flee feelings, the guilt and shame, and the panic attacks were extremely authentic and never felt as if I was reading some case study.

I thought the story really grew during their moments at Doug’s ranch.  They discovered things about their pasts, their interests, family aspects, job prospects, and ideas for the future.  There is a good bit of sex in the story, which makes sense because of the whole idea that neither planned on moving their fling into relationship territory.  They both feel they have too much to overcome from Christopher needing to return to San Diego, from Doug still being in the closet, their pasts, Christopher’s feelings for Ray, and all of the other relationship hurdles.

I really enjoyed the mystery element, too.  The author initially provided numerous suspects or small hints here and there, and I loved the gang tags and other clues.  The interculturality weaved throughout the novel was also very well-written, and I was so happy for both Native American and Hispanic characters.  The topics involved in the crimes were tough, but I still thought it never became overwhelming or dark to overshadow the romance or even the humor.  I did think two-thirds of the way in the mystery lost a bit of steam, as the villain became very obvious, and the tension as to the outcome started to slag.

I’m also just going to say it: Ray was my favorite character.  I felt torn at times because so much of the book I actually wanted Christopher to start a relationship with Ray, even though I totally felt Doug was an amazing man for Christopher.  Ray sleeps around, is cocky and has swagger, and is flat-out hysterical with his interactions with any other character, especially the bickering with Doug.  I didn’t really buy that Christopher could claim to be completely in love with Ray for four years, meet Ray’s doppelganger (Doug), and in two weeks’ time say that he wasn’t in love with Ray, and that he was now completely in love with Doug.  But I desperately need Ray’s story.  I so hope we get a second book with him finding his own love, someone that can go toe-to-toe with him, and to think of all that sexual chemistry makes me happy.

The story ends with a HFN for Doug and Christopher and I was very happy to read that the author didn’t give them an easy fix.  In the end, they knew they’d need to take things slow, figure out living situations, jobs, and much more.  I hope we read more from them, as side characters in (hopefully) Ray’s story!  Overall, an enjoyable mystery with tons of humor, romance, and interesting characters.  Recommend.

Taylor rates it – four-stars_0

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press

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Taylor is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: TAYLOR’S REVIEWS
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