Book: Vodka & Handcuffs
Series: Mary's Boys #2
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Angsty G
Publication date: April 26, 2017
Length: 112 pages
Reviewed by Morningstar
Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.
Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.
Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?
This isn’t a story I would categorize as romance. Yes, there is romance in it and yes, it is the starting point for these two MC’s but this story is more about the discrimination and abuse that these two, and other people like them, suffer on a regular basis. He executed that part beautifully.
Marlon’s terrible partner on the force is every name you can think to call him. He’s bigoted against people of color, Muslim people, gay people, etc. Andrew gets away with it because his uncle is a powerful Senator and he knows he can push the envelope further than most. My heart broke for Vahin experiencing what he did in this story, the fear he must’ve felt I felt while reading it. The pain that Marlon had to go through when he was outed and even the scene with his mom. Seriously, Brandon Witt has angst down.
This is a contemporary story not a romance. There is a relationship in this book but it's not the focus. Basically right from the start of this relationship Vahin and Marlon have all these outside forces between them, separating them or causing issues. Most of their relationship was off page. The author told us of the connection versus showed us. I get that it’s a pitfall for novellas. I know it’s never easy for authors to fit an entire novel length set of emotions and connections into a novella but it can be done. I would have liked to see more connection with them but understanding it's not about romance made me accept that.
The sex being off page or fade to black honestly didn’t bother me in this story. Maybe that was because the mood that the rest of the story had set or maybe it was in part of my lack of feeling the connection between these two guys. I will say that the title can be misleading as to what to expect from this story in terms of sexy times. Even the two MC’s seemed a bit more kink then we got to see. The ending was more HFN than anything else although it’s still very early (a week maybe) into the relationship.
Overall, the writing was amazing. It flowed and let me sink into that world. The struggle is the main part of this story and overcoming it and love. We all need love.
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