As always, Rhys Ford opens the fourth book in the Cole McGinnis series with a bang. Or rather a riot. I’m not surprised, this author never fails to make me laugh with her opening scenes and the amount of trouble Cole manages to get himself in to.
It’s been quite the rocky road over the last three books for Cole and his lover Jae, they’ve managed to overcome many, many obstacles to be together. At the opening of Dirty Deeds it felt like they are finally in a good, solid place in their personal lives. Jae is still working on getting healthy after being shot and disowned by his traditional Korean family. Cole is happy just to be with Jae. They’ve fully converted Cole’s residence to enhance both their lives, with Jae now having his own space to work on his beloved photography. The only thing that mars their life together is Cole’s dogged determination to finally find and put away the woman who shot and in his mind, is a continued threat to, Jae. Sheila is still in the wind and he will do what ever it takes to make sure she never hurts his lover again.
I’m not sure what I expected going in to Dirty Deeds, but I will say I was very pleasantly surprised at how much growth there was in both character development and story arc. I’ve always been fully invested in these characters and their relationship, now it just seems like my investment is finally paying off. Through all the emotional and physical turmoil these two have gone through over the course of their relationship…. shootings, family drama, emotional pain, more shootings, they have finally come to a place of love and trust between them. They are as settled as I think they can get and fully acknowledge their feelings for each other and are in it for the long haul. This makes me happy.
While there is this feeling of contentment at home, when Cole is by himself or away from the house that feeling goes away. If anything, this book is about Cole confronting and making peace with the worst part of his past. To go forward he has to deal with his emotions and insecurities over Ben, Sheila and the death of his former lover, Rick. In his search to find Sheila and get her off the streets he gets tangled up in yet another mystery, but this time his past is firmly entrenched in the goings on. Everything he is afraid to confront, everything about that part of his life that tears him up emotionally and makes him afraid is about to come to a head. This is exactly what needed to happen at this time in this series. While Cole is still the playful, fun character he always has been, there is angst and sadness as makes peace with that part of his life and he does find strength in confronting his worst fears.
I think this quote by Jae describes Cole’s growth over the last four books:
“When I met you, you were like, this is who Ben made. Now, you’re more the man I love. Someone who wears what happens to him, but it doesn’t mean the same thing as it used to.”
One of my favorite parts of this series is the secondary characters and they are just as supportive and awesome as ever. Claudia still makes me smile every time she walks onto the page. Ichi, Mike and Maddy are a wonderful support to Cole and Jae, while Bobby is there to keep Cole in check and ride along as his sidekick. It’s always a fabulous thing to be just as enchanted and invested in the secondary characters as the main protagonists.
This series is still full steam ahead, it shows no signs of stalling or getting bogged down. With the developments in this installment I find myself even more excited to see what happens next. Oh, and Ms. Ford, that thing you did there at the end, that cliffhanger thingie… I’m totally down with it. Seriously, you made me a very happy girl. Final Grade: B+
“You have an odd mix of books there, McGinnis.” Waving a thick historical romance under my nose, she smirked. “You into Scottish men?”
“I’m into men, period.” I didn’t point out the book was one Claudia left behind. “It kind of goes with the whole gay thing. I think it’s in the Terms and Conditions agreement I signed as a kid. Or that could have been the Tooth Fairy Disclosure. Something to do with fairies.