Mark and Tony (Men of Smithfield #1) - L.B. Gregg 3.5 stars.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I actually enjoyed it more for the story/suspense elements than for the romance development.

THE STORY, IN BRIEF
Mark goes postal on his now-ex-boyfriend Jamie when he discovers Jamie in their bed, cheating on him with his hairy and disgusting landlord. Unfortunately, Jamie's betrayal of their relationship is only the tip of the iceberg. Jamie is in some hot water, but luckily, Mark has his longtime police officer friend, Tony, in his corner to ensure he doesn't get scalded by Jamie's craziness and idiocy. Mark and Tony have known each other since Mark was a gawky fourteen year old to Tony's comparatively mature (and developed) eighteen. Mark has nursed what he thought was an unrequited crush on Tony all of these years, but he's about to find out...things may not always appear to be what they seem.

THE CHARACTERS
This is a first person narration, and I'm not sure if that served the story well. Mark's POV is pretty humorous, and I liked reading about his feelings towards Tony, especially in the flashback to their teen years. However, I had difficulties swallowing some of the consistency aspects at the end. Throughout the story, Mark was going ballistic over Jamie's actions, which, in addition to cheating, included embezzling all of Mark's life savings. At the end, though, Mark goes kind of zen about the whole "lost all of my life savings" thing. It just seemed kind of odd, considering his first person POV thought process was so intense and vitriolic earlier.

Tony was an enigma. The big reveal of his feelings at the end of the story was gratifyingly earnest and romantic, but I could have done with a little more foreshadowing over the course of the story. It just didn't feel like the romance aspect was as developed as I would have liked.

THE ROMANCE & SEXYTIMES
I liked the ending (or...beginning? of the relationship, that is...), which was romantic as they shared their feelings and hot as they expressed themselves physically. The sexytimes in general were hot, steamy, and passionate.

The quibble I have is with the romance, which I didn't feel was shown or built up very much in actions or statements. Instead, we hear about it in Mark's head and through Mark's sister, who reveals Tony's feelings for Mark. It just felt a little removed and not very satisfying. The romance felt secondary to the action of the story and the revealing of Jamie's deceptions.

OVERALL
This story was good, and the sexytimes were passionate and hot. I enjoyed it, but I didn't get as much out of the romance aspect as I would have liked, in part because I didn't know enough about Tony and his feelings throughout the story. The writing was good, though, and I would try more from this author.


Note: Thanks to the author and Carina Press for providing a copy of this book through NetGalley.