This book is why my "theory good, practice not" rating-slash-shelf exists. I can see the brilliance of the set up, the momentary genius in the writing, the detail that make others love the story, and yet it all falls short of my expectations.
The first twenty-five pages or so were a struggle and it all started with a fridged woman. Inspector Robert Court is investigating his cousin's murder unofficially, because someone was already hanged for the crime. Officially he's chasing a charlatan spiritualist Oliver Marsh, who accidentally gives Court the clue he desperately needs.
See that set up: Two equally cynical men from opposite sides of the law, thrown together by something paranormal and having to work together to rid themselves from inconvenient ghosts. That's the good in the theory. In practice however, it doesn't take much more than a cab ride and a couple short discussions before both men risk their lives for buggery. Technically, the anal intercourse enters the picture much later, but I doubt Court's colleagues would have seen it that way.
Both characters act too stupid to live because the authors rely heavily on romance shortcut where the reader knows to expect the two point of view characters to fall in love and spend the rest of their lives together because they are meant to be. Neither Dee or Devon justifies why would Court put aside his apprehension of getting close to a suspect or why would Marsh risk his life and living to give into Court. There are hints of instant attraction and lust but those aren't strong enough to explain that first surrender.
I quite liked the discussions that followed each and every sex scene, but I couldn't enjoy the rest of the story without a proper foundation. Especially when the dog play and elements of BDSM emerges. Court and Marsh never talk about their preferences and limits of consent until after the sex and even then it's mostly assurances that neither had gone too far.
"Was I too rough? I'm sorry. You just make me so… I could hardly help myself."
I'm pretty sure that if this had happened in a hetero romance, there'd be an uproar. Then again, plenty of alpha heroes are loved despite sounding exactly like the abusive boyfriends they are.
I could have enjoyed the decent murder mystery and an erotic novella squashed together despite a few minor editing quibbles and story details—like how could they afford to take cabs all the time—if the foundation laid in the sixty pages leading up to the first sexual encounter had been better.
Thanks for the rec, Ana, I'm sorry I didn't like it better.