I don’t read romance. And I don’t read mysteries. They are just not my thing. I’ll read books with romance or mystery, but if you can classify a novel in one category or the other, I’ll probably pass. (Amending this‐ it seems I read a lot more romance than I… ever did before.)
If I was going to label the Cole McGinnis books, I’d put them in the Romance/Mystery section. In addition, they have typical romance titles that do not entice me (the first is ‘Dirty Kiss’) and typical romance covers that are just… well, they look great, but when I first saw them, they did not scream to me that these books were something that would be up my alley. They scream ‘This book is a sappy, cheesy romance‐ but with two guys!’ Which, for me, is like a warning sign to stay far away (except for the two guys part.)
Despite this, I found myself choosing ‘Dirty Kiss’ out of a dozen other choices, and I am so, so glad I did. These aren’t sappy or cheesy, and they aren’t like other romance novels that make you want to gag with the sweetness, and the mysteries in them aren’t dry, and… I love them.
So what are they… Cole McGinnis was a cop, until his boyfriend was murdered. Now, he works as a PI and keeps mostly to himself, nursing the pain and loss he’s still trying to get over. He’s asked to look into what seems to be a typical suicide that took place within a wealthy Korean family. However, when he digs deeper, Cole finds a ton of secrets the family is keeping, and realizes the suicide may not have been that at all. He also meets Kim Jae‐Min, the victim’s cousin. Jae and Cole end up getting pushed together again and again, and pretty soon, they realize they’re falling for each other.
God, I hate writing synopses. I am so bad at it.
Anyway, that’s the plot, and, as far from what I’d normally read as it is, it’s really, definitely, entertaining. It never gets boring. The chemistry between the characters is excellent, the mystery is intense…
I love the way the author, Rhys Ford, writes her characters. That’s probably what I like most about the series. I know Cole, and I know Jae, and I love them. I feel like they’re real people. The side characters are just as good‐ Cole’s brother Mike and Cole’s friend Bobby are so three dimensional. And Scarlet… I adore Scarlet. She is such a complex and fascinating and wonderful and lovely character. She’s one of the best female characters I’ve read in a long time, and she’s not… really… female.
I also love the balance in the writing. Cole’s voice is so wry and honest, and when he’s lonely or in pain, you feel it. But there’s also a ton of humor. Rhys Ford always makes me laugh, usually right out loud. She’s able to capture a wide range of emotions for her characters, and it makes them so real.
The romance is also very real‐ it has none of that forced‐romance‐novel feel that you often get in… well, in romances. Cole often tells Jae, ‘You just do it for me,’ and it’s that simple, and that honest, and Rhys is really able to convey that without shoving it down your throat. It feels so natural. The emotions, the frustrations and struggles that the characters go through, certainly add a lot to the story and the relationship building, but I think it really does come back to how strongly written those characters are to begin with. I know Cole, so I know why he loves Jae.
I guess that’s how I feel about these books, too. I must admit, after discovering that my library is carrying a truly massive digital m/m romance selection, I’ve read through quite a few (this is the part of the review where I wonder how many people I know are reading it. Hello! *waves* I read male/male romances!) I’ve only very (very!) rarely come across anything that measures up to these, though, because mostly, that shite is the stuff I imagined ‘Dirty Kiss’ would be‐ romance‐y and gimmicky and boring. This series, though, just does it for me. I can just slip right in and I feel so comfortable and at home while I’m in the story. I mean, you’ve got to realize, I hate (HATE HATE) reading digital books (manga’s ok, but books… it makes me feel like someone’s repeatedly poking me in the liver) and by now, I’ve read six of Rhys Ford’s novels and three short stories, all on my laptop. Because they’re worth it. And the seventh book of hers I read… I bought it in paperback and paid an ungodly amount, but that was worth it, too.
I believe that there will eventually be six books in this series. Right now, five are out. You should definitely read them in order: ‘Dirty Kiss,’ ‘Dirty Secret,’ ‘Dirty Laundry,’ ‘Dirty Deeds’ and ‘Down and Dirty.’ …And yeah, I can never remember what order those go in. I also really like the author’s Sinner series, which starts with ‘Sinner’s Gin,’ but I’m not quite as big a fan of that series as I am of the Cole McGinnis series.
You can purchase 'Dirty Kiss' and the rest of the Cole McGinnis series from Dreamspinner Press: