Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Self Published

Genre:  Gay Romance

Tags: Murder/Mystery, Law Enforcement/Police, Substance Abuse, Series book #1. TW under the book’s blurb.

Length: 208 Pages

Reviewer: Kazza

Purchase At: amazon


Homicide Detective Adam Dawson’s life is a never-ending nightmare. Caught in the grips of a toxic marriage built on trauma and shared secrets, and suspended from Chicago PD, his only shot at redemption lies in small town Peyton Illinois. All he has to do is complete a six-month assignment with the local authorities while things blow over back home, work on his issues and addictions, and come back home to right the ship.

But when he meets Detective Caleb Straus, a man with his own traumatic past, he’ll find that much like everything else in his life, nothing goes to plan. Time alone to think for himself brings up devastating realizations, and the last thing he needs is someone like Caleb making things more difficult. His new partner is kind to his own detriment, and determined to make up for the mistakes of his past and shattered expectations of the community he loves. He’s fluent in Adam’s language, and even though Adam is a walking red-flag, Caleb’s determined not to give up on him the way everyone gave up on him.

When the local High School’s principal ends up murdered in what appears to be a crime of passion, the two are forced to learn to work together quickly. As they weave through the secrets in the principal’s closet, and a string of blackmail, they find how thin the line is between wants and needs, and what happens when you get greedy.

Both men are helpless to fight the bond forming between them, but that doesn’t change the cold hard facts. And when reality sets in, the devastation might be enough to obliterate any hope they’ve found, in life, themselves, and each other.

TW: Suicidal ideations. Alcohol and prescription drug addiction. Cheating (Not between main characters.)


Adam is a thirty-four-year-old detective from Chicago who has been suspended and given a six-month ‘chance’ to make good as a detective again in small-town Peyton, Illinois. He has a negative view of his own self-worth and a distorted view of his relationship with his husband, Josh. Josh is a lawyer who is wealthy and lives according to that wealth, which means by association, so does Adam. However, Adam didn’t come from wealth. Conversations and texts between them indicate a controlling and managing relationship style by Josh. It also hints at the fact that Adam believes he owes a lot to Josh, even though Josh has cheated on him and Adam believes he’s still cheating. So, Adam carries some guilt and worry. He drinks and takes pills to numb himself which never really works. He’s generally feeling trapped and that manifests as him being angry, unfriendly, rude. Emotionally unhealthy. He has a chip on his shoulder about being sent to a “hick town,” and he can pull out how he has big city experience regarding detective work when he feels like being superior to those in Peyton.

Caleb is thirty-one and lives and works as a detective in his home town of Peyton. He’s four years sober and has an AA sponsor who supports him when things get tough. Peyton is a town that isn’t the kindest to Caleb but he loves it there. He takes serving his community seriously. He has his own demons but he masks them with a smile, even when he’s being bullied by a fellow officer. That’s how Caleb meets Adam. They’re at the same bar the night Adam arrives in Peyton. Caleb goes to be with others and to watch sport. Adam, to have a drink or three. They have a quick conversation before the resident arsehole copper, Kershaw, is drunk and starts spewing homophobia and misogyny. Adam gives Kershaw physical short shrift and Caleb has some hero worship because no one has ever done that – stood up for him. Adam makes sure to let Caleb know it wasn’t for him. He just doesn’t like jerks. Thus begins the genesis of a personal and professional relationship between two seemingly hurt men who have different ways of seeing the world and coping.

The relationship is one part of Relocation. Alongside that aspect there’s a murder to be solved. So policing work is a large part of the book. Primarily, who could have killed Jerry Stanford, the principal of the local high school? Originally Caleb and Adam get called out to Stanford’s home after it’s been vandalised. He downplays it. Twenty-four-hours later, they get called out for his murder. One minute it’s about protests, the next it’s about who could have killed someone who seems philanthropic and widely liked. Procedurally it went from from it’s unimaginable to it could be suspect X. Then maybe it’s suspect Y. Then suspect Z. Or is it combinations of these people? All seemed feasible until you knew categorically who it was. It was well written. It sucked me in and I was keen to know who it was. I prefer that a case is solved by book’s end and that’s what happened here.

It was absolutely no surprise to me that the author mentioned her love of Gregory Ashe’s writing at the end. I saw the similarities to the Hazard and Somerset series while reading. However, it isn’t the same. If you read this and you have read Ashe, you’ll see what I mean quite easily.  (Although I am hoping that the personal drama isn’t dragged like that series.)

Things I liked:

That there’s a dual POV. Each chapter is headed up by the character’s name. It was imperative with these characters that you were inside both their heads.

Both MCs, while dealing with their own issues in their own way, had distinct voices.

There is one sex scene, absolutely spot on for this type of story – policing as well as romance. It was hot and well written and organic.

The MCs connection is pretty quick, they experience strong attraction and feelings toward one another, are sexually intimate, inside three days. That didn’t dampen what was and is to come or the push-pull of their chemistry and needs. They aren’t together at book’s end, expected in a series, but I’m sure they’ll find a way.

The writing was engaging. I read the book really quickly.

I actually liked both of the MCs. Yes, Adam can be really abrasive at times, but I get it. I like to see how people grow in my books. I like an emotional journey. Adam has more growth to come. Caleb is easy to like because he’s the visibly kinder of the two MCs. Warm. A big peacemaker, which isn’t always terribly healthy for the individual. However, still waters run deep. I guess it could be a case of watch this space. No matter what, they balance each other out personally and professionally. While they do let the other in slightly, meaning the reader as well, there is more to their stories.

There was so much about this town I didn’t understand yet, and that same sentiment extended to my partner. I thought of how Kershaw bullied him at the bar. The way Caleb tried to neutralize the situation, despite the hurt in his eyes. How depleted he looked in those brief moments when his smile fell away. What was that about?

Adam tucked his bottle between his knees and rubbed his temples. “I’m not a good person, Caleb.”
“Sure you are.”
“No, I’m not,” he said, and out of the corner of my eye I saw his lower lip tremble. “I’m a drunk. And a liar. If you really got to know me…if you knew my secrets, you’d hate me.”
I hoped he might say more, but he fell silent.

Why this isn’t 5 stars:

There are a number of tense issues throughout the book. I empathise. I struggle with tense myself in reviews but I don’t charge people to come onto my blog. There are also some loose rules around commas. Words like ‘report’ incorrectly used for ‘rapport’ occasionally occur. They’re quite easy to pick up. I picked them up. Another set of eyes would be useful. The epilogue wasn’t needed. It was used to info dump. Josh was supposed to be coming to Peyton but we don’t see it, we’re told about it instead. We’re told about his controlling. Without these things, Relocation would have been a 5 star read.

Also, on neutral ground for me personally but not for a few readers I know who are very much impacted around lies of omission and infidelity/cheating, I would just like to add an addendum of my own here. TW for “Cheating (Not between main characters.)” It’s really a splitting hairs trigger warning. One of the MCs – Adam – cheats on his marriage with the other MC – Caleb – who doesn’t know Adam is married. I feel it’s best readers are clearly informed.


I don’t know how I came across this book. I’ve never heard of the author before and I’m wary about any author who is unknown to me. The cover isn’t striking but the blurb sounded good. I’m glad I took a chance because Relocation was a very good read. Basically, I read this waiting on some surgery. I had four hours of sitting around and this book kept my mind completely wrapped up in Caleb and Adam, on the ongoing murder/mystery. No time to think about anything else. That’s a solid win for me.

The writing is engaging. It’s easy to read. There’s a good balance between the romance and the murder investigation. I found the characters interesting. I bought into their chemistry. There will be more because this is a series. I’m now looking forward to book #2. 4 Stars!