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REVIEW: The Real Thing by Elle Keaton

West Coast Forensics: The Real Thing – Elle Keaton

An oblivious prince wishes for his knight in shining armor. His knight has been under his nose all along, will he claim him before it’s too late for them both?

As deeply as he craves his own fairy tale happily-ever-after, resort owner Cody Prescott doesn’t have time for a relationship. That doesn’t stop him from crushing on most men on Piedras. Luckily for him, they’re emotionally unavailable or already taken, so he doesn’t have to worry about getting attached.

Wade Buckner, the island’s handiest handyman, is tired of waiting for Cody to wake up and realize Wade is the man for the job. He’s ready and willing to rescue Cody from just about anything, even questionable hotel guests.

The Harvest Feast is the kick-off for the resort’s one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary and they have a full house. But something sinister is afoot at the resort, something that even his knight might not be able to rescue Cody from.

Are they trying to kill him, put him out of business, or both?

#grumpy-sunshine #FamilyHistory #OnlyOneBed

The Real Thing, book five in the West Coast Forensics series, is dual POV and follows Cody and Wade all the way to their happy ending. Can be read as a standalone but might be better enjoyed if you start with Real Trouble, first in the WCF series.

West Coast Forensics started as a spin-off featuring members of the WCS, a PI agency. It has expanded to stories of Piedras Island’s notable LGBTQIA+ citizens.

The Real Thing is the fifth installment, staring Cody Prescott, owner of the island’s landmark hotel, Brooch Resort. This is a historical establishment owned by the not-so-upstanding but wealthy Prescott family. As the last living descendant, Cody is determined not to have the old hotel fail under his watch.

Wade Buckner is the hotel’s most reliable handyman, who almost single-handedly keeps the resort from breaking down. He’s a grumpy bastard, an ex-military who keeps saying he’s going to leave the island but can’t seem to stay away whenever his boss a.k.a. secret crush, Cody asks for help. Wade is a great guy, but his characterization needs to be more than just “growly” which was repeatedly mentioned several times.

Wade describes Cody as a geek with sunshine personality. He thinks the younger man has this Cody glow that charms people and make everything shine, even when they were kids. And perhaps Cody’s glow worked its magic in the book itself because despite the murder and the family drama, the storytelling has a fun and joyful energy that made this a one-sitter for me.

The overall vibe was light and humorous. There’s some angst regarding Wade and his father, but later on, Cody won the old man over with hardly any effort. Cody has been notorious throughout the series for falling for the wrong guys and being a disaster-magnet, so I’m glad our boy finally found his knight in coveralls. Also, Wade’s family drama gave the handyman’s character more dimension.

Wade and Cody’s romance was a mutual pining between a grump and sunshine with a childhood connection angle, one of my fave tropes. The two are polar opposites but fit together seamlessly in a yin-yang of personality quirks and work skills. I loved how they navigate their relationship and uber-hectic work life, while solving a murder mystery in a middle of a storm.

As a huge fan of the series, appearances from old friends never fail to make me smile. We have cameos from our favorite taciturn Viking, Niall Hamarsson and his husband, Sheriff Dempsey, Deputies Birdy and Soren, even Shae Delacombe and his formidable Great Aunt.

The supporting cast was memorable too because we have Chef Danny Petras, star of Book 1, Real Trouble, and Dutch Schumacher and his daughter Hazel, stars of Book 4, Real Hazard, and Ben, assistant manager and an awesome friend to Cody.

The mystery was twisty-turny and well-crafted, with lots of suspicious individuals, a.k.a. guests of the resort. The best part for me was how it wove hotel business with the mystery solving. The book did a great job portraying how crazy busy running a hotel can be, especially with Cody seeming to be everywhere, greeting guests, organizing events, putting out fires, and even tailing suspects. It made me want to watch The Bear.

Also, the writer who won the contest and the island mortician piqued my interest. I need their book.

One niggle is that there are at least three characters with similar names. Rey, Wade’s father, Ralph, pronounced “rafe”, the writer, and Raffy, the young kid working in the hotel. I’m audiobooking this, and sometimes, the names confused me.

The Real Thing is another entertaining installment of West Coast Forensics. There’s danger and suspense, the frenetic energy of non-stop hustle, and the sweet, heartwarming moments of a hard-earned HEA. All in all, Brooch Resort is well-worth the stay.

4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

Soundtrack: The Real Thing
Artist: Three Legged Fox
Album: The Real Thing


The Real Thing can be read as a standalone but a visit to Piedras Island is not complete unless you meet the rest of the gang:

Real Trouble
Real Risk
Real Hazard

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THE REAL THINGKindle | Audiobook

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