Title: Hard Time
Author: Jerry Cole
Page Count: 296 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Blurb: Luke Shawcross hasn’t been the easiest guy for anyone to work with, and he knows it. He’s a no-nonsense homicide detective on the dangerous streets of Philadelphia, and he lives behind the hard exterior he’s taken years to perfect, thanks to a lifetime of feeling he’s never quite measured up.
Nobody knows he’s gay, save for his working partner, Mikey. They have each other’s backs every day on the force, and Luke feels he’s the only friend he can truly trust. His liaisons with men are fleeting and singular, and Luke’s policy of never agreeing to a second date is the main reason he’s still single. He likes it that way.
What he doesn’t like is having to work for a guy like Jake DeMarco. Homicide Captain, Jake is arrogant and obnoxious, and Luke suspects he’s got something to hide after he overhears a suspicious phone call. For a guy prone to fits of rage, Luke has to constantly rein in his temper. After all, he’s lost it with Jake before.
Thankfully, Luke gets a break. He’s offered the chance to go undercover to investigate guard brutality at a local jail. It means living as a prisoner for the next twelve weeks, and it’s about to be Luke’s toughest ever assignment, one he’s desperate to perform well on.
What he doesn’t bargain for is Adam Baker, the shy, genuinely helpful cellmate who inducts him into prison life and even serves to protect him. The antithesis of small, feisty Luke, Adam is tall and broad, and a true gentle giant. Luke can’t believe it when he hears why Adam’s in prison, and as he probes a little deeper, he comes to question not only the system he’s part of, but his vow to never let anyone in.
Review: As I read Hard Time, my gut said, “Watch Out Luke, all is not what it seems” and of course my gut was right. Although Luke’s gut said something quite similar, he still found himself in a hot mess. So much for our guts keeping us safe. As Jerry Cole pulled me into the story, I wondered how Luke would extricate himself from the hell he allowed himself to be pulled into. Jerry did a good job keeping me thinking as well as changing directions just when I thought I had it solved. When I first started the book, I wondered if I would enjoy the gritty flavor Jerry presented. As it turned out, the story wouldn’t have worked without it.
I’ve read other Jerry Cole books and have always found them well written, interesting, and captivating. He does a good job snaring the reader and preventing him from untying the well placed knots. There was a good balance of intrigue, sex, story, and suspense to keep me interested.
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