In The Flesh by Ethan Stone
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, contemp
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus
Reno Detective Cristian Flesh lives his life by a strict set of personal rules, preferring one-time flings and anonymous encounters to committed relationships. His rules work for him... until his life is turned upside down when first, a former lover, a famous televangelist, is attacked, and then one of his one-night stands is murdered, making Cristian the prime suspect.
When handsome lawyer Colby Maddox takes his case, Cristian finds himself wanting to break all his rules about relationships. The instant attraction between them is undeniable. But before they can contemplate any kind of future together, they’ll have to clear Cristian’s name by finding the real murderer.
A no strings attached cop meets a man worth breaking all his rules. Cristian Flesh is an out gay cop and refuses to be pinned down. A difficult past has left Cris determined to use his many, many rules to keep hurt away. When his job turns against him and Cris is arrested for murder, hot shot lawyer Colby Maddox is there. What starts as a professional relationship soon morphs into more and Cris realizes he’s finally met a man that can make him break the rules. Yet love isn’t that simple and between Colby’s closeted lifestyle and the outstanding murder threat, Flesh has a lot to handle.
In the Flesh is a good romantic suspense story that is heavier on the suspense in the first half and much more romance in the second half. The first part of the book deals with the murder mystery and various threads coming together which results in Cris’ arrest. At that point Colby is introduced, almost a third of the way in. This sets up an enjoyable and interesting murder mystery with a few culprits. The final resolution is dragged out until the very end of the novel, which gives the romance more space and room.
The romance aspect is good and likely to please fans. The characters are three dimensional with a lot of differences that compliment and contrast. Flesh is brash, unapologetic, and damaged. He has a mysterious past that is hinted at but never really explained. He refuses to top and is unashamed of wanting to be dominated during sex. This kink is not a main thread though nor is it an aspect of his relationship with Colby. Instead Colby comes across as a stabilizing element but he has his own issues. Colby’s closeted lifestyle chafes the more open Cris and causes conflict between the two.
The story is perhaps more romance than mystery but still interesting on both parts. The characters make some incredibly stupid moves and act very clichéd at times. All of those classic stupid choices that make you groan (don’t go into the dark warehouse with no backup and a killer on the loose!) are present but the good writing should help you get over it. The writing and unique voice of the narrator keep the story moving and always engaging. As the first book in what is likely to be a series, In the Flesh is a hit.