ARC Review: Hanging the Stars, by Rhys Ford

Blurb:

cover-rhysford-hangingthestarsAngel Daniels grew up hard, one step ahead of the law and always looking over his shoulder. A grifter’s son, he’d learned every con and trick in the book but ached for a normal life. Once out on his own, Angel returns to Half Moon Bay where he once found…and then lost…love.

Now, Angel’s life is a frantic mess of schedules and chaos. Between running his bakery and raising his troubled eleven-year-old half-brother, Roman, Angel has a hectic but happy life. Then West Harris returns to Half Moon Bay and threatens to break Angel all over again by taking away the only home he and Rome ever had.

When they were young, Angel taught West how to love and laugh but when Angel moved on, West locked his heart up and threw away the key. Older and hardened, West returns to Half Moon and finds himself face-to-face with the man he’d lost. Now, West is torn between killing Angel or holding him tight.

But rekindling their passionate relationship is jeopardized as someone wants one or both of them dead, and as the terrifying danger mounts, neither man knows if the menace will bring them together or forever tear them apart.


Stats:

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December 5, 2016
Dreamspinner Press
Half Moon Bay, book 2
Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
M/M
Gay
206 e-book pages
3rd person
See the book on Goodreads

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Review:

I’m going to come right out and say it. The name of this series, Half Moon Bay, and the titles of the first two books, Fish Stick Fridays and Hanging the Stars are just a tad misleading. In my mind at least, they conjure up sweet, likely humorous, packed-full-of-love and sunshiny goodness types of stories.

And…that’s not entirely wrong. They are those things.

But, we’re also talking about Rhys Ford. She doesn’t do anything by half measure. And I don’t think I’ve read anything by her that isn’t all those things but also heavily tinged with mystery and suspense — or murder, blood and gore, or something that’s going to scare the bejeezus out of me.

What I’m saying is, don’t let names and titles fool you into a false sense of security.

I’m also saying buckle up, buttercup — this book is action packed from the get-go.

Hanging the Stars pairs Angel — a hard-working reformed con-artist, son of a crap father (to put it mildly) with West — an emotionally stunted business tycoon. It’s opposites attract in a huge way. It’s also second chance romance for two men who only shared a summer in their late teens and never forgot the magnitude of their connection, or the horrible way they split all those years ago. It’s also a story of building a family and solidifying friendships and brotherhood, grasping on to the importance of the smaller joys in life.

Of course, that’s just the candy-coated shell, tip of the iceberg, glossy wrapping what have ya; because under all that there is murder and treachery afoot. Bad Dudes who want everyone dead and resort to all manner of evil methods to advance their mad schemes. It got a bit hairy and tense more than a few times — very much so.

Angel, I gotta say, this guy is in the running with Miki St. John (from the Sinners series) and Jae-Min (from the Cole McGinnis series) as my favorite of Rhys’s characters. They share a commonality of hard-scrabble backgrounds that make them a bit prickly, cautious, and thus way tuned in to what heartbreak means — and knowing a good thing when they see it. I’ve got the biggest soft spot for those hard-won hearts.

West was the one who surprised me the most. His appearances in book one did not show him in such a good light. Frankly, he was an asshole. My reaction to him back in Fish Stick Fridays was more apathetic than utter dislike. But it remains one of my most favorite things to see characters redeemed, characters who grow, characters whose spiky exteriors get shattered, so we see the gooey nougat inside. And West is all that goodness and more. Not just with Angel, but most especially with the kids in this book.

I gotta talk about the kids. If kids are in my romance books I want them to be smart, precocious, a bit naughty, a challenge to those who care for them. Roman (Angel’s young brother) and Zig (West’s niece by marriage of the guys in book one) are the epitome of everything about kids that entertain me in books. I’m just glad I can kick back and read them and not have to worry about raising them. They were comic relief, the kick in the pants the adults needed, and very much grounding forces to bring home the meaning of family in all it’s messy glory.

Angel and West were a gorgeous collision of differences. There was just enough backstory sprinkled throughout that I desperately needed them to be together for the long haul. There were a lot of old hurts to work through, a lot of life that happened after their initial split and reconnection, but enough memories of the good times that they were able to recreate old intimacies. The best part, to me, was that although there was forgiveness that needed to happen, explanations deserved, they didn’t make each other work for it too hard. Some…just enough. And, as they’re on the road to Relationshipville and a Happily Ever After there’s careful consideration of all their varied differences that help them navigate toward a healthy, respectful future. All that while dealing with bullets flying, arson, car wrecks, murders, and other bloody etcetera.

Listen, I’m an unabashed Rhys Ford Fangirl. I have no shame, and I’m not looking for it. Her creative prose, potent imagery, delightfully flawed characters, murderous plots, and hard-won HEAs sock me in the gut every time. And this book did not disappoint.

Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author
in exchange for an honest review.


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