Title: Fair Play
Author: Josh Lanyon
Series: All’s Fair #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 11/10/2014
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, M/M Thriller/Suspense Romance, M/M Military / Law Enforcement
Page Count: 199
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Fifty years ago, Roland Mills belonged to a violent activist group. Now, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from publishing his memoirs.
When ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills is called out to examine the charred ruins of his childhood home, he quickly identifies the fire for what it is–arson. A knee injury may have forced Elliot out of the Bureau, but it’s not going to stop him from bringing the man who wants his father dead to justice.
Agent Tucker Lance is still working to find the serial killer who’s obsessed with Elliot and can’t bear the thought of his lover putting himself in additional danger. Straightlaced Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much–“opposing political viewpoints” is an understatement–but they’re united on this: Elliot needs to leave the case alone. Now.
Tucker would do nearly anything for the man he loves, but he won’t be used to gain Elliot access to the FBI’s resources. When the past comes back to play and everything both men had known to be true is questioned, their fragile relationship is left hanging in the balance.
A little different than the first, but just as good
Fair Play is the second novel in the All’s Fair series. It can be read as a standalone because there is enough information about past occurrences to bring a reader up to speed. However, the continuing storylines mentioned throughout the book make it better read as a sequel. I just began this series in preparation for the upcoming release of the third book and I’ve read them back to back. I was relieved this book doesn’t use the same formula as the first, so it’s not repetitive in the least. In the first book the budding relationship between Elliot and Tucker is important, but the crime investigation propels the plotline. Fair Play was much more focused on Elliot’s relationships in general- particularly those with his father and Tucker.
Like Fair Game, the second installment in the series is written in third person but exclusively from Elliot’s point of view. Elliot is often defensive, introspective, and less likely to share his feelings with others. Normally the miscommunication angst would irritate me, but having this perspective kept the frustration at bay. I can see where his refusal to communicate make his arguments faulty, but I also understand his stance. The writing is once again detailed and flows well. The pacing is brisk but steady. The author sets the scenes perfectly so the reader can envision how the action plays out but the plot’s progression never slows. Due to the nature of the investigation the action scenes are a little less rushed, but my interest never waned. I did miss the element of suspense that had me holding my breath during the first book, but also appreciated the build-up of tension and drama with Elliot’s relationships.
The reader learns a good deal about Tucker and his background throughout the course of this book, adding substantial depth to his character despite only getting the story from Elliot’s POV. Tucker and Elliot are already living together at the start of Fair Play and the book jumps right into the ensuing relationship ups and downs. Just as the plot illuminates the conflicts in Elliot and Roland’s relationship, the reader gets to see the different approaches the two men have for their relationship. Though there is angst, there is also no doubt just how much they care for one another and how committed they are to making things work. Of course with angst comes passion, and Fair Play substantially amped up the heat between Tucker and Elliot. Their personal relationship also means the men worked together on the mystery/crime right from the start. I really enjoyed this element, it highlighted their compatibility as well as their differences and gave rise to a different dynamic throughout the investigation. The crime and investigation driving the second book involves Elliot’s father, Roland. As a result, the reader gets a lot of background on Roland and the U.S. anti-war movement in the 1960s. Not only does this give the reader insight into Roland and Elliot, but it also shows just how tenuous the relationship is between father and son. I loved how the author includes excerpts from Roland’s book to advance the plot. It was different and kept me engaged with all aspects of the characters and investigation.
This book had an interesting take on the crime and investigation and it really showcased the relationships Elliot has with those closest to him. While there wasn’t as much heart-pounding suspense, it wasn’t predictable and I quite liked the different approach. The insight into the characters and their evolving relationships endeared me that much more to these men and their story while delivering an exciting plot that kept me guessing.