Category Archives: Sparks
Author: Chris T. Kat
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 250 pages
When he was outed on the local news, Jeff Woods gave up his dream job as a detective to become an on-air radio personality. The sacrifice was worth it to keep Alex and Sean in his life, but Alex lost his job, too. Jeff can tell Alex worries he’s pressuring Jeff too much, first with Sean and now the lack of money, but he has no idea what that will lead Alex to do. Desperate times bring out the stupidity in some people, and when Jeff discovers Alex is in over his head in a situation he can’t handle, he needs all his self-control to stay calm.
Life is not easy with the Church of Virtue still spouting venom wherever they go, homophobes at the police department, a gangster who wants Alex in the worst possible way, and a bed that barely holds one grown man, much less two (and a child), but Jeff is there to stay for good, and he’ll do what it takes to make Alex believe him.
Review: The second Jeff Woods mystery, Sacrifices, picks up six months after Attachment Strings ends. I’m not divulging any spoilers by pointing out that the narrative gets off to an unexpected start because Jeff is no longer a police detective (the cover blurb reveals this). Indeed, I was rather curious how this new mystery series was going to work with this sudden change. How will our intrepid hero Jeff solve mysteries if he’s no longer a detective?
This is a bit of a lingering question until the very end of the book because the second novel in this series does not really focus on a case or a major mystery. The evil Church of Virtue rears its ugly head again but this ends up being a minor (and somewhat tacked on) part of the main story. This sequel instead delves deeply into the domestic and emotional lives of Jeff, Alex, and Alex’s younger disabled brother Sean. By the conclusion of Attachment Strings, Jeff had turned a major corner as a character after realizing his love for Alex and committing himself wholeheartedly to their relationship—one that necessarily also includes Sean. Six months later, it’s clear to the reader that Jeff is still in this 100% but Alex isn’t convinced and has a great deal of anxiety about what Jeff gets outs of being together with him and Sean. This is compounded by the fact that Alex feels some guilt over Jeff leaving the police force after being so publicly outed in the first book, as well as the fact that he also lost his job and has been unemployed for some time. Sean is also having his own difficulties dealing with the trauma he experienced in the first book, and this adds further strain to the couple’s relationship and everyday lives.
I really enjoyed the fact that this book gave me a stronger sense of Alex as a character. He has a more significant role in this story as his youth and vulnerability lead him into making some impetuous and disastrous decisions to try to deal with his problems rather than communicating with Jeff and asking for help. I’ll admit that I found some of his behavior trying to say the least, but not entirely surprising given his age (23) and his situation. In this respect, I (as a reader in her 30s) identified more with Jeff’s exasperation as Alex’s older partner. Time and time again though, Jeff steps up to the plate in this novel and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a partner Alex can rely on. In contrast to the first book, Jeff is far more likeable and relatable in this one. His relationship with Alex and Sean has changed him—and for the better. Other characters see this as well and point it out to Jeff who as usual is (cutely!) oblivious. He’s still a cocky and bossy alpha male a lot of the time, but Jeff has a mushy soft side that is absolutely adorable. He has become a committed romantic partner who is willing to do almost anything for Alex, and a loving father to Sean. Things are not easy for the couple in this book, but you as the reader are rooting for them the whole way.
This novel very effectively shows how and why Jeff and Alex function so much better together when they communicate. Of course, each of them has a backstory that makes it difficult for them to do just that. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed that Chris T. Kat didn’t give us a bit more insight into Jeff’s past. We got a few glimpses in the first book that left me wanting to learn more (I enjoy an alpha with a tragic history!) but there was no more elaboration on this in the sequel. I guess I’ll have to wait for the next book and hope there’s more in the third installment. In Sacrifices we do, however, get a few adorable moments when it is clear to everyone but Jeff that his unwittingly tender and caring actions reveal his true feelings for Alex and Sean, even if he can’t always come out and say them. I really enjoyed these squee-worthy moments!
I was thrilled to see that Jeff’s former detective partner Parker (yay!) plays a bigger role in this story. He helps remind Jeff that Alex is young and sometimes does stupid things like most young people do. He also takes risks and backs Jeff up whenever he needs help. It’s clear that even though they aren’t officially working together any longer, Parker and Jeff have maintained and even evolved their friendship. At the same time, Parker has become a good friend to Alex and the two understand one another—and Jeff—in important ways. David, Parker’s boyfriend, also makes more of an appearance in this book and is an important steadying force for Jeff, Alex, Parker, and Sean. By the end of the narrative there are some very exciting new developments going on with this cast of characters that I’ve become far more attached to, and I can’t wait to see where book three will take them!
Reviewed by Sparks