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
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:
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Take your current read and compare it to what you reading this exact time last year. Which one do you like better? What is different about the books? Any special facts/things you want to make note of or bring attention to?
West Coast Forensics: Real Hazard by Elle Keaton
They’re not looking for love, but it catches them anyway. Can two very different men find common ground and claim a future… together?
Things I love
✓ my kid sister
✓ the no-hope dogs I rehabilitate
✓ my job as an EMT
✓ and maybe my new friend Dutch.
But Dutch isn’t gay and physical attraction isn’t something I feel often. Are these feelings real, or am I just tired of being alone?
This is all Hazel’s fault. Hazel the Hazard.
✓ Hazel made me come to first grade safety day.
✓ Hazel blurted out—loudly—about the beautiful fireman.
✓ Hazel invited the beautiful fireman over for a party.
I swear I’m not gay, but Foster Jennings is the most beautiful man I’ve ever met, outside and in.
Dutch Schumach is the single dad of a precocious daughter. He moved to Piedras wanting a better life for Hazel and himself. Things are shaping up, he’s landed a permanent job at Brooch Resort and Hazel has quit having nightmares that someone is going to steal her away.
Then everything goes sideways, Dutch’s past threatens his future and he doesn’t know where to turn.
Something is wrong, Dutch is pushing him away and won’t tell Foster why.
When Hazel goes missing Dutch can’t hide anymore, he needs his… Foster to help him get Hazel back.
#Demisexual #BiAwakening #SingleDad #FindingFamily
Book four in the West Coast Forensics series, can be read as a standalone but may be more fully enjoyed if you start with Real Trouble.
Real Hazard is Piedras Island at its most charming and my favorite West Coast Forensics installment so far.
I’ve been a fan of WCF and its related series, so at this point, everyone feels like old friends. Foster Jennings was introduced in earlier books. The EMT/firefighter/dog trainer is fondly referred to as an angel, a beautiful man inside and out. He not only saves humans but helps dogs too. Foster’s world revolves around his younger sister whom he raised, the uber-confident Becca, determined to spread her wings, protective brothers and wheelchairs notwithstanding.
Dutch Schumach is the cook assisting his friend, the chef, Danylo Peters, at the island’s landmark hotel. He’s a single dad to a precocious 8-year-old, Hazel, who has her dad wrapped around her little pinkie. Dutch has a dark past he’s running away from to keep his daughter safe.
Hazel the Hazard keeps her lonely dad’s life exciting through clever antics. The latest of which is befriending the beautiful fireman and feeding him pie. Afterall, her teacher said, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
The story celebrates the joys and the challenges of solo parents. Fatherhood is the theme, and this extends to Dutch’s parentage at the latter part. Hazel both amused me and reminded me why I want nothing to do with kids.
The plot differs from the previous books, which were mystery-centric and heavily involved the WCF people. This time, it was more of a contemporary romance with the requisite meet-cute, lots of fluffy moments, minor external conflict to shake things up a little, and then the sweet HEA. There weren’t any big surprises, but I don’t think it was meant to be a roller-coaster. And hardly any private detectives showed up.
This was a more laidback slice-of-life chronicles of two friends who became lovers, a single dad’s refreshingly angst-free bisexual awakening, a parent coming to terms with their child leaving the nest, and hardworking men trying to catch a break. The vibe was cozy, comfortable, and domestic, with lots of heartwarming found family goodness. Add to that the adorable antics from canine friends, and it was cuteness overload!
Piedras Island might be an old haunt, it still has plenty of surprises. I loved where Elle Keaton took us this time. I missed the mystery, but Real Hazard certainly more than made up for it with its lovable characters, cozy domesticity, and lots and lots of feel-good magic!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Check out the rest of West Coast Forensics and its related series , and fall in love with Piedras Island!
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Real Hazard. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.