State trooper Brandt’s new assignment to infiltrate a sex-cam operation puts him in a very uncomfortable position, especially since he’ll have to perform naked on camera for his audition. Fortunately his partner and best friend, Donnelly, has his back—whether that means helping Brandt shop gay boutiques for sexy underwear or offering Jäger and encouragement while he researches porn.
Despite his mortification, Brandt gives the audition his best “shot”—and becomes an overnight sensation. But to meet the man behind the operation, he'll have to give a repeat performance, this time live on webcam opposite the highest bidder. Donnelly makes sure to win that auction for his partner’s sake, but their plan has a flaw: faking it is not an option.
In the aftermath, Brandt is a humiliated mess trying desperately to come to terms with what he’s had to do for the job and his own mixed feelings. But Donnelly has been on a journey of discovery of his own. Suddenly everything the two men thought they knew about themselves and each other gets turned inside out. Meanwhile, they still have a case to solve… but it may not be the case they thought it was.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: If readers can look past the utterly ridiculous plot of this book then the characters are highly enjoyable and the MM romance delicious.
The Set Up: State trooper Brandt is asked to infiltrate a sex-cam business and Brandt is shocked by the male-centric pornography. His best friend and trooper partner, Donnelly, will be his back up for the undercover operation but neither expects Donnelly will have to bid on Brandt’s live action performance. This one act will change the men’s relationship forever.
Why I Read this Book: I am a total sucker for MM romance where the men start as friends and end up lovers and this synopsis fit my trope.
What I Liked: Okay, I have to first admit the premise of this novel is ridiculously improbable but I loved the characters so much and their emotional romance that I could look past the silliness. Brandt and Donnelly are the classic alpha men who need to be drunk to even research the male porn Brandt would need to produce for his undercover job. These characters are set up as uber-straight men and the rest of the novel challenges their identity and I adored this. I think a lot of readers (me included) think of sexual orientation as linear where people fall on one side or the other but this novel asks readers to consider a more complicated view on sexuality where a straight man could fall in love with another straight man. I liked this exploration of sexuality because instead of being heavy it was handled with humor and heart.
I loved the relationship transformation from friends to lovers. Brandt and Donnelly dance around their attraction until they can’t any longer and that’s when the novel really shines. The emotional intensity picks up at this point and I was pleasantly surprised how verbal these men are with their feelings for each other. This is a highly erotic romance but the men spend lots of time emotionally connecting to balance it. I love the scene where the men go to breakfast together after their emotional denouement and take their relationship public. I love that the relationship isn’t rushed but is given time to develop into a stellar romance.
What I Also Liked: The secondary characters are pure fun here. Donnelly’s sister and her complicated family came as a surprise to me but totally fit the tone of this book. Even the men who work in the sex-cam business are more complicated than readers may initially expect. I love that this novel asks readers to consider highly sexual characters as people with full lives; for instance, why the owner of the sex-cam business started this company or Nick, the straight lead porn “actor” and his love affair with another man. Yes, this is a highly erotic novel (which I loved) but it’s about human sexuality, not sexual exploitation.
What I Didn’t Like: I’ve said it before but I totally acknowledge the silly premise of this novel. The men shop at gay boutiques for sexy underwear and meet lots of outrageous characters. Combine this with Brandt’s undercover job of busting a sex-cam business but first having to audition and the plot flies into ridiculous. To enjoy this novel, readers will have to suspend reality and just ride along the crazy train. I happened to love the ludicrous ride and I think other readers may too.
IMO: This turned into one of my favorite MM romances lately and I even re-read a few scenes already. So long as readers don’t mind the silly plot, they should enjoy the characters and romance as I did.