Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Catch and Release by BA Tortuga

Dakota Landry just got out of prison after twelve years. If anyone can understand how that feels, it’s his new friend, Sage, who is determined to help him get used to life on the outside—and believes Dakota didn’t commit the crime he was in for.

Jayden Wilson is a former prosecutor who agrees to look into the case at the request of Sage’s lover, Adam. He sets out to prove Dakota is just another “innocent” ex-con, but once they meet, Jayden is more and more convinced Dakota just didn’t do what everyone thinks he did.

Trouble follows Dakota, and nothing is easy as he struggles to figure out how to live, now that he has choices. And Jayden isn’t sure how Dakota, or any lover for that matter, fits into his life. Their path from friendship to romance is a slow one, but Dakota begins to believe he deserves a chance at life, and Jayden falls a little more for Dakota every day. Now they just need to tell each other how they feel.

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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The Release series was my introduction to B.A. Tortuga’s writing, with The Terms of Release being the first of her books I read. There was something gritty and honest about Sage and Adam’s journey in that book that hooked me. Considering the size of the author’s backlist, I count my blessings each time one of her previously released titles gets new life breathed into via a new publisher. However, when I see that a new book is being released, I’m all over it like white on rice. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Catch and Release and return to the series that started my love affair with Tortuga’s writing. As usual, she did not disappoint.

Unlike Sage, Dakota has maintained his innocence from the very beginning. Yet being innocent doesn’t matter if you cannot prove your whereabouts when the victim of the crime never wavers in her identification of you as her rapist. Not even Dakota’s revelation that he was gay helped him. In fact, it likely harmed him when his well-to-do parents turned their back on him, later informing their society friends that he died in a car accident. Are you mad yet? I know I spent a LOT of time being furious on Dakota’s behalf, and my anger only got worse as it became crystal clear that the young man was indeed innocent of the crime he was convicted of and was still being targeted after his release. My heart literally broke for Dakota over and over. But I’m an optimist at heart and can point to some good coming out of it, specifically that Dakota befriended Sage, found an ally in his roommate (Azel), landed a job that gave him a chance to do the kind of work he needed to do upon his release, and learned to love and be loved by Jayden. Yes, that’s a simplification of the storyline, but Dakota’s story is one you really need to experience for yourself and take the journey with him to see if he can find happiness and a future with Jayden.

I liked how Tortuga crafts Dakota’s story in a manner that parallels Sage’s story, yet is completely different. Because both men went to prison around the same age and served similar sentences, Sage has an understanding of the world Dakota has reentered that most people lack, and because of it, he is able to help Dakota adjust a bit at a time. So not only did I get to catch up with Sage and Adam, but I also got to witness a beautiful example of paying it forward. As someone who minored in Criminal Justice, so much about Dakota’s conviction bothered me immensely (which engaged me on a level I don’t often experience). It has long been held that it is better that two, ten, or even 100 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer, and Dakota’s story is the perfect example of why. In Catch and Release, we see one of the worst kinds of injustice present in our criminal justice system. This is the story of a young man who had years of his life stolen, his innocence violated, his future decimated, and his entire being changed because those in power did not do all that they could to insure they had the right man. As a woman, I am glad that the police and prosecutor took the young woman’s claims seriously; however, as a student of criminology, I am disheartened by the lack of investigation by the police and their failure to utilize all the tools they had at their disposal. As Jayden points out, if Dakota wasn’t the one responsible for raping the woman, then Dakota’s conviction meant that the rapist was still out there and likely harming other women. Yes, I know the system is flawed, but the sad thing is, is that this work of fiction is likely a true reflection of reality and illustrates why more reform is needed in the criminal justice system. That’s right, Tortuga not only entertained me and made me fall in love, but the author unwittingly unearthed my soapbox. Let me kick it back under the bed and simply say that even more than before, I cannot wait to see what she has planned for The Release series, especially if I get to catch up with Dakota and Jayden.

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy's Girl, BA spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she's not doing that, she's writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA's personal saviors include her wife, Julia, her best friend, Sean, and coffee. Lots of good coffee.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Catch and Release (The Release #3) by BA Tortuga to read and review.

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