- Review by Cindi
Rhys Ford has jumped up there in my list of favorite authors. I devoured her other books in a matter of days and I followed her closely to find out when Dirty Secret would be released, counting down the days until I would finally be able to read more about Cole and Jae. When I was given the opportunity by the publisher to read it early I could not jump into it fast enough. I was not disappointed.
Cole and Jae have gone through a lot both together and separately. Cole was forced to watch his work partner and best friend gun down his long-time lover, Rick, a few years earlier and then end his own life. Cole was also injured in the shooting and by the time he was out of the hospital Rick's family had removed almost everything of Rick's from his and Cole's home. Still mourning, Cole was not interested in finding love again, convinced he could never love another man as he did Rick. He is a private detective and in the middle of a case he meets Kim Jae-Min, the cousin of a murder victim and a possible suspect. There is something about Jae and Cole finds himself pursuing him and hoping Jae had nothing to do with his cousin's murder. When they eventually get together, there is guilt by Cole. He feels he is cheating on Rick. It takes a long while for him to get beyond that.
Jae is part of a very traditional Korean family. Unable to be out publicly, he and Cole have to keep their relationship confined to behind closed doors. Jae knows his duty to his family. He knows that falling in love with a man is not an option. Some day he will be forced to marry a traditional Korean woman. It is his duty to the family and he will do what is required of him. His life has been planned for him by tradition and falling in love with Cole McGinnis is not part of that plan. Unfortunately, his heart didn't get that particular memo.
Cole is aware of Jae's family obligations but he will fight them every step of the way.
In Dirty Laundry, Cole and Jae are spending almost every night together at Cole's home though Jae has his own place. Things are going well but Jae's family is always there in the background forcing Jae to hold back a part of himself.
Cole is asked to investigate the death of three clients of a fortune teller Madame Sun. Each client has fallen victim to murder or death under questionable circumstances shortly after an appointment with Madame Sun. Thinking the deaths were coincidental, Cole goes in thinking he can have the case tied up neatly with only a few phone calls and maybe a visit or two. Because this is Cole McGinnis the reader knows there will be nothing routine about this or any other case that he is involved in. More people connected to Madame Sun start to die and Cole finds a connection between her and a rival male fortune teller. Saying anything beyond that would be too telling and I refuse to spoil this book for others.
New characters are introduced to Cole and Jae's lives. Ichiro, Cole and Mike's half brother, makes an appearance and I have to say that I loved him right of the bat. This reader and others have an idea of where the author is going with Ichiro and I will be eagerly waiting to read that particular book as I have no doubt that pairing will be brilliant. Sure I'm being vague but again, I don't want to spoil it for others.
Jae's seventeen-year-old sister Tiffany is introduced to Cole in a big way. In one instance I was smiling but in the next my heart was breaking. Her unexpected visit almost destroys everything that Jae and Cole have worked toward. With the sister in town and knowing Jae's secret it is only a matter of time before his mother is made aware or until Jae is forced back to fulfill his duty as the son.
There is a lot of the typical Cole and Jae humor in this book but there is also sadness. My heart broke as I watched Jae battle with tradition and family versus the love he feels for Cole. Cole does not try to be strong, to hide his emotions. They are laid out for the reader to see and I got teary quite a few times as I watched him struggle with what may be the loss of Jae.
Bobby, Cole's best friend, is there in all his slutty, twink-seeking glory. Of all the books I've read I don't know that I have ever loved a best friend as I do Bobby. He's often funny but yet he can be serious when it is warranted, always having Cole's back.
Claudia, Cole's amazing office manager, is here but not to the extent of the first two books. But when she is in it she's a total blast. She is the perfect mother to not only her own children but to Cole as well.
The killer is revealed and while I suspected this person a little early on I quickly ruled this person out because of the way the character is written. It was a nice surprise when it was revealed and the reasoning behind it.
There is a lot of emotion in this book and some may say that it leans toward the sappy side at times. Personally, I felt that it was written brilliantly. To watch Cole go from being the bad ass private detective to seeing his heartbreak laid out for the reader made his character more real. My heart broke for Jae as well but there is something about Cole letting his complete guard down that got to me.
Normally when an author writes a series about the same couple (in each book) I tend to get bored. I'm not a fan (by any means) of series that focus on the same couple because I am eager to see them have their happily-ever-after. Unlike another series that I am currently involved in, I do not see myself getting bored with Cole and Jae. They still have so much to work through to get where they need to be and this reader will be along for the ride every step of the way.
The confusion that I felt in the first two books in regards to Korean dialogue and names was not present in Dirty Laundry. One, the author put a glossary of terms and a list of individual family members in the beginning of the book so I was easily able to refer to it as needed. Two, I had already familiarized myself with a lot of the characters and lingo in the first two books so it was easier this go 'round.
Once again, a lot is left unresolved but that is to be expected. Something happens with Jae and with a character from Cole's past. Each left much to be explored in future books. My only complaint, though I can't quite call it a complaint, is that I wish that one specific thing would have been elaborated on a bit more. Also, I wish there would have been more time with Cole and Jae together.
Overall, an outstanding continuation to the Cole McGinnis series. The emotions are written wonderfully, both the serious and the humorous. The sex is hot, as always. I can't wait to see what happens with these guys next.
This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.