Puzzle for Two – Josh Lanyon
It was like those crazy detective novels he read as a kid…
Fledging PI Zachariah Davies’s wealthy and eccentric client, toymaker Alton Beacher, wants to hire an investigator who can pose as his boyfriend while figuring out who is behind the recent attempts on his life. And Zach, struggling to save the business his father built, is just desperate enough to set aside his misgivings and take the job.
But it doesn’t take long for Zach to realize all is not as it seems (and, given that it all seems pretty weird…). The only person he can turn to for help is equally struggling, equally desperate–but a whole lot more experienced–rival PI Flint Carey.
Former Marine Flint has been waiting for Zach to throw in the towel and sell whatever’s left of the Davies Detective Agency to him. Still, he’s unwillingly attracted to the game but inexperienced accountant-turned-shamus, and can’t help offering a helping hand when Zach runs into trouble.
Especially when it’s hard to imagine any worse trouble than having your client murdered.
Puzzle for Two is a standalone novel by Josh Lanyon. It has a contemporary setting but also that Golden Age noir vibe that the author loves to reference in many of her books.
The story is from the POV of accountant-turned-PI Zachariah Davies who, along with his sister Brooke, is struggling to keep the family’s PI business alive. Then, wealthy toymaker Alton Beacher waltzes in, offering $12,000 for Zach to play his boyfriend to find out about the death threats to the already married businessman. Smelling the fish from a mile away but unable to say no because they had ZERO clients, Zach very reluctantly agrees.
The case is more complicated than Zach bargain for. Realizing they need more people to cover the investigation, he begrudgingly hires their rival, the more experienced ex-Marine-turned-PI Flint Carey. The man was willing to help, but was also quick to berate Zach for taking a case that is so patently bogus AND kept pushing offers to buy their detective agency.
The two men were polar opposites. Zach is inexperienced, a little too naive, and the type who avoids telling the truth so as not to hurt. If I’m feeling charitable, I would say he’s the type to see the good in others, but he tested my patience. There were high-tension scenes that could have been resolved had he just been more upfront.
Conflict came from the his interactions with his manipulative ex, Ben. This pest just wouldn’t stop inserting himself in Zach’s life while making it all about himself, AND blatantly ignoring the fact that they already broke up 4 months ago. Had Zach just told him point blank he has no feelings for the guy anymore, it would have saved us from all that drama. Their scenes were not pleasant to go through, and the plot could have done without.
On the other hand, Flint is not really a cynic but more of a realist due to years of experience. He’s blunt and antagonistic with Zach, who returns snark for snark. A typical Josh Lanyon love interest but nicer. A guy who says what he means, doesn’t play games, and always willing to lend a hand to a struggling rival.
I thought the mystery was pretty straightforward but trust the author to throw me in for a loop with twists and turns, suspense, and a whole bunch of questionable characters. While the book isn’t my favorite from the author, I was still completely absorbed because the storytelling is very engaging.
Puzzle For Two has all the usual Josh Lanyon elements but is far from stale. While it had its share of self-absorbed exes, it’s also highly entertaining, humorous, and fun. All in all, a satisfying comfort read from a go-to author.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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Runaway Grooms: Aisle Be There – Charlie Cochet
They say your wedding day is the beginning of your happily ever after.
But I’m pretty sure they never stood on a sweltering Florida beach getting ready to promise forever… only to change their mind at the last minute and be assaulted by a crustacean while fleeing the scene.
Once upon a time, I was a respected Navy officer. A guy who made a career out of managing chaos.
Now, I am the chaos, a groom on the run from my ex-fiance and his dad’s goons. Oh, and the guy driving the getaway car? That would be my ex-boyfriend, Jett.
Gorgeous. Brilliant. A guy I couldn’t help falling in love with twelve years ago.
The guy I realize I’ve always loved.
Did I mention he’s also a famous rock star on a sold-out summer tour?
This situation has disaster written all over it. But if I can manage the chaos, maybe I’ll get my happy ending after all.
Readers keenly following The Kings and their friends were teased by the opening scenes of this cute meet-disaster, second chance romance with a fake rock star boyfriend thrown in the mix, in the book Sleight of Hand.
Aisle Be There runs in the same humorous vein as Four Kings Security and its spin-off, The Kings: Wild Cards. Gage Kingston, cousin to Wade Kingston, aka King, is having the worst cold feet a couple of hours before his wedding to an overdramatic artist/influencer. A hermit crab in his suit finally drove him to run away, only to end up almost causing a tent stage to collapse and being rescued by none other than the rock star Jett Stevens, lead singer of Queen’s Hart. Also his ex.
I love Charlie Cochet‘s writing, and this offering is chockful of things I enjoy in her books. There’s the wacky found family in the awesome septuagenarian Queen’s Hart members who treated Jett like family. There’s the snark, the crazy antics, and the swoony romance with an adorable ex-military boyfriend in Gage.
This series is more of a straightforward contemporary romance compared to the action-oriented Kings series. Jett has big shoes to fill after his dad, Hart Stevens, passed away. Passionate and just as talented as his legendary dad, he is, nonetheless, doomed to forever live in the shadow of that legend, dimming his own brilliance in the process.
Which Gage was quick to observed, having seen Jett at his best in their younger days. And as a good boyfriend, even a fake one at that, did everything he could to make Jett feel like himself again. It had him butting heads with the band manager, Jett’s uncle, a manipulative, money-hungry bastard.
I had a lot of fun with this book, and being a lifelong rock music fan, I get a kick out of the bands namedropped here and there. Gage and Jett were adorbs! The cameos from the Kings and their friends were the cherry on top.
However, the story almost lost me at the crucial 3rd arc. I’ll try not to spoil it too much. It’s the part were the evil uncle was driving a wedge between Gage and Jett. He spewed some bullshit about Jett causing the self-sacrificing Gage to run away because of well-meaning crap of not wanting to ruin Jett’s dream. It frustrated me so much I wanted to throw the book.
First, it is well-established that the uncle is a manipulative bastard who will say anything to keep Jett under his thumb. Jett is aware of this. Had tried several times to fire the bastard, only to be outwitted. Gage is also very, very much aware of this. Plus, he just told himself he’s going to fight for his second chance with Jett. And, even made a note to talk to Jett, especially about his uncle.
Gage had confrontation with the evil uncle, who went on a villain monologue and told Gage he was bad for Jett’s dream project. Which the singer was supposedly working on for months but Gage had never heard Jett mentioned before. The dork could have recorded that little speech on his cellphone and showed it to Jett. So maybe he couldn’t record the bastard secretly. HE COULD HAVE TALKED TO JETT!!!!!!! ASK HIM ABOUT THE DAMN PROJECT IF IT EVEN EXISTS!!! ARG!!!!
Instead, the idiot hastily packed his bags and ran away, even after Jett begged him to stay. WITHOUT ASKING JETT ABOUT THE DAMN PROJECT OR EVEN CONFIRMING WHAT THE EVIL UNCLE TOLD HIM. WHO EVERYONE KNOWS IS A LYING LIAR WHO LIES!!!!
Past this trainwreck, the conclusion won me over again with a grand gesture we could only dream about from our favorite rock stars. So yeah, this rockin’ trip down the aisle ain’t perfect, but it’s still quite a show!
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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