Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review by Jodi: Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford

Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5/5 Smooches


Sequel to Whiskey and Wry
Sinners Series: Book Three

Lieutenant Connor Morgan of SFPD’s SWAT division wasn’t looking for love. Especially not in a man. His life plan didn’t include one Forest Ackerman, a brown-eyed, blond drummer who’s as sexy as he is trouble. His family depends on him to be like his father, a solid pillar of strength who’ll one day lead the Morgan clan.

No, Connor has everything worked out—a career in law enforcement, a nice house, and a family. Instead, he finds a murdered man while on a drug raid and loses his heart comforting the man’s adopted son. It wasn’t like he’d never thought about men — it’s just loving one doesn’t fit into his plans.

Forest Ackerman certainly doesn’t need to be lusting after a straight cop, even if Connor Morgan is everywhere he looks, especially after Frank’s death. He’s just talked himself out of lusting for the brawny cop when his coffee shop becomes a war zone and Connor Morgan steps in to save him.

Whoever killed his father seems intent on Forest joining him in the afterlife. As the killer moves closer to achieving his goal, Forest tangles with Connor Morgan and is left wondering what he’ll lose first—his life or his heart.


“I’ m not saying I’m anything other than… well, who I should have been before.”
-        Connor Morgan

With each book in the Sinners Series, Rhys Ford draws readers deeper into the world of the Sinner’s Gin bandmates and the Morgan clan.  In this third installment in the series, Tequila Mockingbird, readers have the opportunity to meet and fall in love with Forest Ackerman and lust after Connor Morgan.

With her usual flourishes, grit and humor, Ford grabs ahold of the reader on page one and doesn’t let go until the end of the book, and that is only because the writing stops, not because the story has ended.

When readers first meet Forest, he is starving, injured and trapped in a dumpster. Franklin Marshall feeds the young man and tries to take care of him. Forest is grateful, although he goes back and forth between staying with Marshall and going back to his abusive, drug-addicted mother, who lets men use Forest’s body to pay for her addiction.

Forest’s mother is a horrible woman who is in direct contrast to the wonderful, open-hearted Brigid Morgan. While Forest’s mother does everything in her power to destroy her son, Brigid, and the rest of the Morgan clan do their best to pick up the pieces and put Forest back together, despite the fact that someone is trying to kill him.

Between the fires, explosions and shooting, Forest’s world is literally crumbling around him. And, while Forest’s world and life is literally shattering, Connor Morgan’s personal walls are crumbling, proving that the best laid plans of mice and men do indeed go awry, especially with Ford at the helm.

When Forest first meets Connor, it is under tragic circumstances.

Forest hit a wall before he could reach the engulfed motor home. Some part of him realized the wall was a man. His cock certainly knew it was, and his mind registered an enormous amount of muscle, large encompassing hands, and flashing bright blue eyes. Dressed in body-hugging black and wearing a thick vest with SWAT written across his chest, the wall smelled of embers and cop.

Even as his heart lay in the ashes fluttering about on the parking lot under his torn-up bare feet.

“You’ve got to let me go!” he yelled at the cop. The man held him, immovable and steady. Forest tried shoving at the man’s chest, but all he got for his trouble was a jarring rattle in his teeth and spine. He stared into the man’s hard, handsome face and pleaded. “Dude, please. That’s my dad in there. My dad’s in there. Please. If it were your dad—”

“I’d want in there so verra bad,” the cop replied softly, and some small part of Forest’s brain registered other things about him—the small block letters on his chest spelling out his name as Morgan, the Irish strung through his rumbling, deep voice, and how good the man’s hands felt rubbing at Forest’s shoulders and back to soothe him. “But he’s already gone. I pulled him out before the whole thing went up. He’s gone.”

Forest went frigid—as if he’d turned into the cold hard ground Franklin Marshall would eventually be buried in. The roar of the fire masked the sound of a gurney being wheeled toward a waiting ambulance, its lights and sirens dark and muted. No one lit up the skies for a dead man, the streets wouldn’t shriek with the hope of getting Franklin to the hospital in time, and Forest crumbled, his legs unable to hold up the heavy weight of his breaking soul. 

The cop caught him. The Irish rock who’d kept Forest back from the flames wrapped his bulky arms around Forest’s body and held him, murmuring softly through the smoke smothering them so only Forest could hear. “I’ve got you now. I’ve got both of you now. We’ll find out who did this to your da. I promise you that. I promise.”

Forest is broken and lost. Marshall, the only person who really cared about Forest, is dead. There appears to be a madman on the loose. And, Connor Morgan, and his formidable Irish clan, seems to be infringing on Forest’s world, no matter which way he turns.

Conner cannot seem to stay away from Forest.  Forest looks forward to Conner’s visits, but he doesn’t know what the straight cop wants with him. Forest is confused, wary, and extremely infatuated with the hunk of a cop. Conner has Forest feeling off kilter, especially when the Morgan man is in his presence.

In the three months since Frank’s murder, Lt. Morgan of the SFPD’s SWAT division appeared to have gotten very fond of the Amp’s lattes. He also really liked Jules’s double chocolate cake donuts, because he always bought four at a time with his coffee and ate two of them as he waited for his drink to be made. The way he ate sugar should have been a crime—and also make him fat—but no, Connor Morgan merely stood at the end of the pickup counter and mouth-fucked pastries as Forest tried to ignore the Irish cop’s broad shoulders, flat stomach, and tight ass.

Not that Forest watched the man lick chocolate ganache from his fingers and from the corners of his lips.

But he had. And the disappearing chocolate frosting entranced him because it took him a few seconds for an alarming beep to penetrate his brain before he realized he’d scalded his soy milk beyond recognition.

And just when things seem to have calmed down in Forest’s world, Ford shakes things up with a little gun fire.

The window behind them blew in, an explosion of glass and sound. Forest’s heart pounded once, a scared, fluttering tight beat. Then he found himself on the floor, the blue-eyed cop’s body stretched over him. Connor’s weight pinned him down, and his fight-or-flight response kicked in.

Forest squirmed, unable to see what was going on.

A rat-tat of gunfire sprayed the air, and there were screams—so many screams—too blended and horrifying for Forest to pick out individual voices. The panic burbling in his stomach flowed up his throat and hit his face before spreading out to his spine. People were dying out there, lying in their own blood, and he lay safe behind a bank of short refrigerator units with a man he’d just lusted for pressing his crotch into the curve of Forest’s ass.

Ford is a brilliant story teller and artful writer. Her vivid, descriptive prose depicts both the harsh reality of Forest’s life as well as the warmth, tenderness and depth of the Morgan’s world. In typical Ford fashion, humor is sprinkled into both the prose and dialogue.

He might have been lost, but Connor was there, guiding him around with a pair of strong hands closing down over his shoulders. “Come on, we need to get some food in you. That burrito was crap, and I know a diner that makes a mean stack of pancakes. Go wash your face while I go make sure they have my number to call in case someone needs something.”

Forest wanted to scream at the cop—anything to take away the fear and loneliness pressing up from inside of him, but Connor’s fingers were gentle, stroking at the ridge of his collarbone with a lingering promise of something more heating his skin. He either wanted to shove away everyone or simply fall against Connor’s solid body—he wasn’t sure which until the reasonable part of his mind whispered liar. He knew which one he’d want—it was just that the wanting itself was probably as insane a thought as he’d ever had.

Straight Irish cops smelling of coffee, green tea cologne, and a fog-kissed day did not cuddle fucked-up blond drummers who’d suckled at any teat or cock offered up to him because he needed someone to touch him—anyone—because it made him feel alive.

In Tequila Mockingbird, the characters readers have come to love in this series are given more depth, Ford allows us to fall just a little bit more in love with Brigid and Donal Morgan, as well as Miki St. James and Damian. But Connor does steal the show: the same Connor who struggled with his thoughts and feelings when he approached Donal, the patriarch of the Morgan clan, for a talk in Whiskey and Wry.

Connor’d spent his entire life carving himself into a man his da would be proud of. As life went on, it seemed Connor dogged Donal’s every step, matching the Irish-born cop stride for stride. They shared a love for the job—even as a kid, wearing the blue and a badge was all Connor had ever wanted. He’d stayed up late at night to watch his father come in after a long shift, peering through the window, then sneaking downstairs to watch him take off his gun belt and lock up his weapon for the night. He’d seen his parents dance in the kitchen and laugh over a shared midnight meal, catching up on their day and basking in each other’s humor.

He’d grown up wanting that… thinking one day he’d come home to a little boy and a woman who’d kiss him on the mouth while teasing him about his big feet. There’d not been a moment he’d doubted his future. Not the uniform. Not the badge. Not the woman. Then suddenly, his future tilted, and Connor couldn’t find his feet underneath him.

Connor’s confusion, along with the sibling rivalry of the Morgan family, give a strong sense of realism to the story, even when things are going upside down – literally –  in the rest of the book .

His life’d been simple—uncomplicated even. For as long as he could remember, he’d known what he wanted to be, who he’d wanted to be. Hell, he even had an example of that man in his father. Being a cop was as natural to Connor as having black hair or blue eyes. He just didn’t think about it. His life plan’d been all laid out: college, police academy, a house, then wife and kids.

He’d been on track—until he’d wrapped his arms around the man sitting across the counter from him, and suddenly, Connor found himself floundering in a snarl of suffocating dreams.

Now all he wanted was something he couldn’t grasp. The knowledge of it hovered just out of his sight, like a ghost slipping in and out of a haunted mirror, visible only out of the corner of his eye but gone when he looked straight at it.

Rhys Ford has penned another impressive story with Tequila Mockingbird. The series keeps getting better with each installment. It is not just the action-packed plot and well developed plot that makes this a great book, it is that connection between the characters that keeps readers begging for more.

Thank you to Rhys Ford and Dreamspinner Press for providing a review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

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