Zero Hour: Devil’s Hour – Aimee Nicole Walker
Devil’s hour, noun: the hour when the demon or devil who leads hell is at its strongest.
Born on the wrong side of the tracks, Royce Locke is no stranger to scrapping and fighting for the things he wants. What he desires most is Sawyer Key—his partner on the force and the man he’s falling in love with. After asking Sawyer to take a chance on him, Royce will need to back up his pretty words with fearless action instead of being his own worst enemy.
Someone is harassing the mayor of Savannah, and Locke and Key are tasked with finding out who. The investigation quickly takes a twisted turn, leading them to an enemy who thinks purification by fire is the only way to save the city. Scarier than The Purists’ elusiveness is their ability to turn public opinion in their favor, creating unrest and threatening anarchy by fanning flames and fear. When you play with fire, someone is bound to get burned.
When menace becomes murder, the two detectives will race the clock against the devil to save their beloved city from becoming a raging inferno. Royce will need to draw on his grit now more than ever if he hopes to realize the dreams that are finally within reach. The rag is lit, the Molotov cocktail is tossed, and the zero hour is upon them. Challenge received and accepted.
Devil’s Hour is the second book in the Zero Hour series, which follows Locke and Key’s investigations and evolving relationship. This is a series that must be read in order. Devil’s Hour has a happy-for-now ending with no cliffhanger. It contains mature language and sexual content intended for adults 18 and older.
Trigger warning: Part of the storyline involves coming to terms with a friend’s suicide, which may be difficult for some people to read.
The clock is ticking. Savannah is poised to ignite as purists threatened to set the city on fire. The mayor is involved in a scandal along with other people in high places. It’s up to Locke and Key to uncover the mysterious entity hellbent on purifying the sinners.
This case came months after the events in Ground Zero. Royce and Sawyer are gradually settling down, work-wise and relationship-wise.
Devil’s Hour follows the same style as the first book. The detectives followed several angles, dead ends, a few minor cases, sometimes apprehending suspects that had nothing to do with the case. Like with the previous installment, I really liked this because it felt realistic that they’re working on several things at once. However, this time around, the mishmash of things that were happening felt a bit all over the place.
I was happy that we got Royce’s POV. This is something I was hoping for. In the first book, Royce came off a bit dickish. Hence, the name Detective Dickhead. Although, he did slowly open up to Sawyer as the story progressed.
Here, I had a better understanding of his hurts, doubts and insecurities. Royce came from a fucked up environment and feared that he might fuck up whatever good things he had in life. Most especially what he had with Sawyer.
Royce is grieving the loss of his bestfriend and former partner, Marcus, who died of suicide. He is desperately seeking closure. This is one of the overarching threads of the series that I’m also eagerly following. It talks about how somebody you thought you knew your whole life could keep so many secrets. Secrets that could turn Royce’s already upside down world inside out.
Royce might like to think he’s no good but I really admired his dedication to his late partner’s wife, Candy, and her kids. No matter how overworked he is, he always managed to squeeze time to help her out whenever she needs him.
Sawyer is my favorite character here. He had his own share of grief but I love his optimism, his level-headedness, his willingness to reach out first and communicate openly no matter how difficult the subject and his overall goodness. Like the time he had food delivered to Candy because she needed a break and some sustenance. He really put much thought in what kind of food he thinks her family would like. And he hasn’t even met her and the kids yet.
Eventually, they wrapped up the mayor’s case. It was complicated due to the people involved. I was in the dark most of the time. I had my suspicions once a certain character was introduced. I’m happy I guessed right.
I liked how this revealed bigger, more insidious crimes. Not everything came together neatly. The ending left some threads open for Marcus’s upcoming revelations in book 3, as well as another case awaiting trial.
Devil’s Hour started with heat and ended with somebody burned. There were many unpleasant things that happened. There were sex scandals, religious nutcases, IA business, hackers, arson and more. In the middle of all this, Royce realized how much Sawyer mean to him.
Royce and Sawyer’s partnership went from strength to strength. Their relationship evolved rather nicely and it was wonderful to see Royce, finally, 100% in.
About time, Dickhead!
The Zero Hour books are not standalones. Best to start with Ground Zero and see how Detective Dickhead met Detective Asshole. <- yes seriously that’s how they call each other when they’re feeling especially affectionate. Review here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Zero Hour: Ground Zero – Aimee Nicole Walker
Ground zero, noun: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change.
Heat, humidity, and homicide are things veteran detective Sawyer Key expects to encounter on his first day with the Savannah Police Department, but the hostile reception from his new partner catches him by surprise. Sawyer isn’t a stranger to heartache and recognizes that Royce Locke is a wounded man who’s reeling from a devastating loss. Relentless and patient in all things, Sawyer is determined to make the new partnership work.
Savannah, Georgia is known for her quirky people, oak trees draped in Spanish moss, and antebellum architecture. Beneath the Southern charm and hospitality, festering hatred and violence is soaring with the summer temperatures. Locke and Key find themselves at the epicenter when their first case involves the death of a former shock jock who appears to be the victim of vigilante justice.
Opposites in nearly every way, the two detectives set aside their differences to take back their city and restore law and order. From this reluctant truce, an intense attraction grows that will either tighten or shatter their tenuous bond. Falling for his partner spells inevitable disaster, but Sawyer’s always been a sucker for wounded things. Sawyer could be the key to the life Royce has always wanted, if he’s brave enough to trust him. The fuse is lit, the clock is running, and the zero hour is upon them. Tick tock.
Ground Zero is the first book in the Zero Hour series, which follows Locke and Key’s investigations and evolving relationship. Ground Zero has a happy-for-now ending with no cliffhanger. It contains mature language and sexual content intended for adults 18 and older.
“I mean, I want you to mourn me properly, but then I want you to find an epic love. Promise me right now, Sawyer.”
Sawyer’s husband, Victor, has passed away two year ago, leaving a hole in his life. After some scandal in his old precinct, he was recruited by the SPD and partnered with the notorious Royce Locke
Everyone knows Royce Locke is an asshole. He’s quite flirty with the ladies but gave the impression that he doesn’t really care. He just lost his old partner who’s also a close friend and so very not looking forward to his replacement. It was kind of funny how their co-workers all took bets on how long Sawyer would last (one day) because Locke lost no time antagonizing his new partner.
But Sawyer was no doormat. He’s not about to throw away his new job so he sassed him right back. I loved their banter! The chemistry and tension rolled off them like waves. All these while doing good work as detectives.
Sawyer also cannot resist strays and wounded souls. He took one look at Locke and knew a cry for help when he saw one.
The romance here started insta but evolved slowly. It first appeared that Locke was straight with his sexuality hinted as bi later on. I almost didn’t like him but I really liked how the story let the two men talk candidly about whatever issues they have, whether personal or work-related.
It wasn’t easy nor did the conversations came out smooth but I appreciated how petty misunderstandings were avoided by laying it all out in the open. It also lead the way to Locke finally taking a step forward and me connecting with him.
I would have paid good money to get inside his head too. He was a mystery himself. But seeing him through Sawyer’s eyes, we see how his walls come down bit by bit. Now and again, we catch glimpses of the ‘not asshole’ Locke. Somebody who’s vulnerable and grieving. A friend who took care of his late partner’s widow. A man who adores children. It made for a satisfying momentous moment when it was time for Locke to bare his soul.
Somehow this reminds me of Hazard & Somerset but written in Somers POV. I have the audiobook and Tristan James is the narrator. He used his Somers voice for Sawyer and his Hazard voice for Locke. The book is written entirely in Sawyer’s POV and his personality reminded me of Somers. Friendly, popular but with hurts aplenty.
One thing that sets this book apart from other law enforcement/police procedural romance, is that Locke and Key worked on multiple cases. Normally, the partners would be working just one major case, almost always a serial killing.
Working on different cases in one book is a more realistic depiction of police work. It also gave the story a slice-of-life feel to it. The cases were complicated and interesting. There is enough procedural work here to satisfy any fan of the genre.
This is a great opener. There’s just the right amount of mystery, suspense and romance. The HFN ending builds the anticipation for the next book. Right now, there is a future waiting to be explored and a promise waiting to be fulfilled. The two men just started their journey together. I can’t wait till they get there!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits