Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: PI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.
Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.
Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s spiraled out of control.
Review: At sixteen, Jackson Rivers was emancipated from his drug-addicted and neglectful mother, allowing him to finally move in with the family of his best friend, Kaden Cameron. The Cameron family may have had little, but they definitely made up for that with love and caring and were happy to bring Jackson into their arms and share everything they had with him. Eight years ago, getting tangled up with a dirty cop left Jackson in hospital. Now a cop has been murdered in the gas station Kaden co-owns and Kaden’s been framed for it, and the whole thing reeks of dirty cops. There’s nothing ex-cop Jackson won’t do to find the real killer and clear Kaden’s name. To that end, Jackson enlists the services of Ellery Cramer, a defence attorney at the firm where Jackson works as their head Private Investigator.
I’d describe Fish Out of Water a crime/action, rather than a mystery as such. The focus leans more to the action side than the romance, and there is a grittier feel to the characters in this book than in the author’s other works, which suits this story. I found the writing to get a bit disjointed at times which, along with some time-hopping between past and present (both mainly restricted to the first part of the book), made it difficult to follow what was going on in that moment, but not enough that I couldn’t get the gist of it and I didn’t feel I was really missing any important details. It wasn’t too far in before the writing found its groove, though, and the fast-paced action as Jackson and Ellery chase down the truth of what really happened, and those responsible, made it a real page turner.
Amy Lane has once again created interesting, complex characters in not only Jackson and Ellery, but also the secondary characters of Kaden and Jade, Kaden’s twin sister. Jade is fierce, funny and loyal and she and Jackson have had a friends with (sometimes) benefits type of relationship for years (there is one on page sex scene between them at the beginning of the book). Although it took a little while to warm to him, I liked Ellery more and more as we got to know him. His background was the polar opposite of Jackson’s, but they both had the same strength and tenacity of character. Jackson is tough and no-nonsense, but also genuinely cares about people. The love and gratitude he has for the Camerons is completely endearing. Jackson, unapologetically bisexual, has made his way through a large chunk of the local population, but his upfront honesty and the fact he really is a good guy has prevented a trail of broken hearts behind him. It was a lot of fun watching Jackson and Ellery, two strong-willed men, circle each other before admitting to the crush they had each been sporting for the other for the last six years. It was even more fun watching them start to fall for each other.
There seems to be a consensus that this will be the first of a series, and I can definitely see the possibility for that. There were still some threads from the current action not completely resolved that could come to fruition in a second book, and the relationship between the two MCs ended on a HFN note, so there is potential for more growth there. I’d love to read more of Jackson and Ellery, so I hope there will be more books about them.