Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review by Jodi: Sacrifces by Chris T. Kat

Title: Sacrifices (A Jeff Woods Mystery) 
Author: Chris T. Kat
Publisher: click logo to purchase from pubisher

Rating: 4.5/5 Smooches


Sequel to Attachment Strings
A Jeff Woods Mystery

When he was outed on the local news, Jeff Woods gave up his dream job as a detective to become an on-air radio personality. The sacrifice was worth it to keep Alex and Sean in his life, but Alex lost his job, too. Jeff can tell Alex worries he’s pressuring Jeff too much, first with Sean and now the lack of money, but he has no idea what that will lead Alex to do. Desperate times bring out the stupidity in some people, and when Jeff discovers Alex is in over his head in a situation he can’t handle, he needs all his self-control to stay calm.

Life is not easy with the Church of Virtue still spouting venom wherever they go, homophobes at the police department, a gangster who wants Alex in the worst possible way, and a bed that barely holds one grown man, much less two (and a child), but Jeff is there to stay for good, and he’ll do what it takes to make Alex believe him.


        When readers first meet Detective Jeff Woods in Attachment Strings, book one of the Jeff Woods Mystery series, we are presented with a gritty and arrogant detective. At the opening of that book, Woods and his partner, Detective Parker Trenkins are at a murder scene of a disabled man. Trenkins is crude and abrasive. Woods is not much better. Although Woods seems annoyed with his partner’s lack of tact for the dead man they are examining, it seems his concerns are more about appearance than compassion. He reprimands Trenkins for not being politically correct, but he does not seem offended by Trenkins’ prejudicial slurs.

As Woods’ character becomes more developed, it is clear he is a bit of an arrogant jerk. He is a closeted cop with a severe chip on his shoulder and a serious prejudice against disabled people, who, as he admits, disgust him. His attitude and life changes dramatically when he meets Alex Fisher, a hot, sexy, younger man and his severely disabled younger brother Sean. Alex is the yin to Woods’ yang, and ultimately Jeff Woods is not the same man at the end of the book.

Sacrifices opens after Woods has left the police force. During the break between books, Jeff and Alex have grown closer, and the reader sees that Jeff has continued to evolve. The book opens with the two men exploring a monogamous, committed, yet somewhat strained relationship. Jeff and Alex are both taking care of Alex’s brother, Sean. Life is far from rosy.

“For some people, I was a hero—for rescuing Sean and Alex, for having been a cop, for being outed and standing by my man, or whatever other reason. For some people, I was scum for exactly the same reasons. There’s just no pleasing everyone. The members of the Church of Virtue definitely didn’t like me. They didn’t like a lot of people, especially gays.”

Jeff is in love with Alex and will do what it takes to get his young lover to relax and trust him. That is no easy task. To say Alex is skittish is an understatement.  Jeff’s mantra regarding his new family and love for Alex is presented on the first page of the novel: “Mine to protect. Mine to love.”

With Attachment Strings and Sacrifices, Chris T. Kat has written a realistic love story between people who have had a difficult time fitting into society and accepting love. Real life is messy and Kat explores this concept in this series. Both Alex and Jeff are battling internal and external demons. In between the love and tension, Kat throws in quite a bit of drama. She also tackles homophobia and prejudice against the differently abled in a dramatic way.

Sacrifices is written in first person point of view from Jeff’s perspective. As a result of this, Alex’s thoughts and motivations are often hidden from the reader. His actions and conversations with the other characters are the readers only hint into what is going on within his insecure and immature mind.

Both Jeff and Alex are dynamic characters who go through a lot of changes throughout this book. While Jeff does a lot of changing in the first book, Alex is forced to change more in this one.

Jeff’s evolution seems hard fought as does his trying to convince Alex it is okay to depend on him. Jeff’s evolution in this series is dramatic and Kat does a good job making those changes realistic. Although the drama in the book is a bit over-the-top in some areas, it is compelling.

Alex is smart and insightful, but his innocence and insecurity heighten the drama and conflict. In order to appreciate the reasons behind his personal drama, one needs to have read the first book in the series. Alex has never been in a romantic relationship, and as the sole care provider for Sean, Alex is stretched like a rubber band emotionally and physically. He is fearful of losing both Sean and Jeff. And his fear of losing Jeff causes Alex to make some pretty bad and dangerous decisions.

“The authorities hadn’t gotten involved, but the damn Church of Virtue had published an article in our local gazette, accusing Alex of neglect and worse. I wanted to throttle each and every member of this Church because they hurt the people I loved. Alex had been devastated that day and ready to give up. He’d questioned whether he was equipped to raise Sean, and nothing I’d said seemed to get through.”

Sean is more fully developed in this book, and his love for Alex and Jeff seems to be the cement for this developing trust in this relationship. Parker Trenkins, Jeff’s former partner on the force, plays a more important role in this book also. Parker’s relationship with David, although not fully developed, is complex and leaves the reader curious for more information about them.

Kat has a talent for writing sparse prose and engaging dialogue. There is a lot present between the lines of the story, especially when it comes to Alex. The background of the characters is paramount for understanding their actions. The dialogue and sex scenes are intimate and help the reader better understand the characters’ motivations. The subplots in the story help develop the characters’ personalities and help explain some of their seemingly erratic behaviors. Drama with a side of romance makes Sacrifices an engaging story.

Reviewer Note: Thank you to Chris T. Kat for providing an advanced review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

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