Thursday, April 27, 2017

Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This story is darker than the first book in the series and much darker than the blurb suggests. I expected a slightly kinky connection between a cop and a bartender, but the reality is a story about racism, homophobia, and corrupt cops.

This story about race, sexuality, and policing is topical and timely. I appreciated the author writing two POC leading men and I also appreciated the complexity of the problems facing both Vahin and Marlon. But I didn’t enjoy the simplicity of the ‘bad guys’ in this story. People are rarely as awful as Marlon’s partner and his over-the-top behaviour detracts from some of the more realistic experiences that Marlon and Vahin go through.

We met Vahin in book one, where his difficult past is hinted at but not explored. He is still a private character in this book but he shares his past with Marlon. I really liked Vahin’s character but at the end of the story I still wasn’t sure I knew him well. Similarly, Marlon shares his immediate work problems with Vahin, but there was so much more I wanted to know about Marlon as a person. Vahin and Marlon are both great characters, but they are both possibly too complex for the novella format to do justice to.

I’m really not sure this works as a romance. There is initial attraction between these two men, but the attraction leads to a hook up that one of them can’t remember. Marlon’s nervous closeted behaviour doesn’t build any further chemistry between them and their sexual encounters neatly fade to grey. The happy for now ending took me by surprise – I still wasn’t feeling the connection and they were apparently a settled couple.

Vahin’s family at Hamburger Mary’s provides the comfort and security we’ve come to expect in the last two books. ManDonna lifts the story with her humour and Pat provides unexpectedly fierce support for Vahin in a difficult situation.

Vodka & Handcuffs was easy reading despite some serious subject matter in the way of racism and homophobia. I enjoyed watching the relationship develop between Marlon and Vahin but there wasn’t a lot of overt romance or a lot of sex for that matter. Trouble caused by Marlon's partner, Andrew, causes plenty of drama and almost takes over the story, but I didn't mind.

I am a fan of novellas and Vodka & Handcuffs was an enjoyable read and kept my interest all the way through. 

Also Available in the Mary's Boys Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Dreamspinner Press

For reviews & more info, check out our Nachos & Hash post.

BRANDON WITT’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about…

Connect with Brandon

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys #2) by Brandon Witt to read and review.

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