Eostre's Baskets: Undercover Cruising

Cheryl Dragon
Eostre's Baskets: Undercover Cruising
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Publisher
Loose Id
Release Date
March 2014
ISBN
9781623007058
Genre
Contemporary Romance, GLBT, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

SUMMARY
FBI Special Agent Carlos Perez is undercover on a cruise ship, working to find and stop criminals targeting gay passengers. He'll only get one chance to crack this case, so he has to stay on task. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem for the experienced agent, but normally, he wouldn't be falling in love on the job.

When Stuart "Red" Redmond takes a last minute vacation over Easter, he's thrilled to find his sexy coffeehouse regular on the same cruise. For months he's been hoping that Carlos would ask him out, but both of them have been too busy working. What better time to have a first date than on a cruise?

What should've been smooth sailing on both work and relationship fronts turns to rough waters. Red knows Carlos well enough to poke holes in his cover, and while Carlos trusts Red to keep it under wraps, that knowledge puts him in danger. Then a mysterious Sundae's Easter basket appears in Carlos's suite. Are the criminals onto him or is something much stranger in play?

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Mar 13, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
141 people found the following review helpful
Cheryl Dragon's fiery novella of high-seas crime and high-stakes romance is sure to delight her fans and will surely please new readers looking for a bit of an escape and an unconventional mystery. Though the writing style is uneven in places, making it a little difficult to become immediately engaged in the story, in the end, this was a fun read from a creative talent.

Special Agent Carlos Perez is the only FBI member in his bureau who is willing to go undercover on a cruise trip catering to gay passengers in order to locate criminals who have been targeting passengers. He knows that he only has one opportunity to crack this case and is determined to let nothing stand in his way—until he runs into a man he knows and wants to know better.

Coffee shop owner Stuart "Red" Redmond decided to take advantage of a last-minute deal and booked himself on a cruise for a little rest and relaxation. But when he sees that one of his regular customers is also a passenger, he knows this cruise is going to be something special. Red has had a thing for Carlos for a while now, but has never thought either had the time to explore a relationship. He's thrilled to hear that Carlos is single, but he seems preoccupied with "work"—even though Red can't figure out what on earth he actually does.

Now, Carlos finds himself torn between the job to which he's dedicated his life and a man he simply can't resist. The chemistry between them is explosive, but can Carlos balance the work and a relationship, when he knows that Red's life may be on the line?

Red and Carlos share quite a sizzling connection. From the instant they lay eyes on each other, it's clear how much they want each other, and as the story evolves, it becomes clear how far they are willing to go for each other. Their backgrounds are fleshed out with enough detail to make each man feel like three-dimensional characters, with pasts and flaws and strengths, and that makes their hunt, for each other and for the criminal, that much more interesting and dangerous. This is, at its heart, a story of lonely hearts finding each other. Though Carlos' work threatens that connection—in more ways than one—there is no doubt that he and Red complement and balance each other wonderfully.

I really enjoyed the suspenseful nature of this story and the cleverly constructed plot. Cheryl Dragon does an excellent job balancing the steamy details of Carlos' developing relationship with Red and the constant demands of his job. His relationship with his partner, and their Interpol sidekick, works very well—and the banter between these secondary characters adds a great layer to this quick-paced story. The cruise ship setting is a fascinating one, with danger and decadence around every corner. Because the threat to the passengers is ever-present, each scene is that much more tense as the reader tries, along with Red and Carlos, to find the person responsible for attacking passengers.

However, the writing style made some scenes difficult to savor. There is a lot of telling instead of showing, especially in the early scenes, which keeps the reader from getting fully involved in this story. Being told that Carlos and Red share chemistry isn't the same as being made to feel it, and hearing how Red feels about Carlos' deception helps, but doesn't make me feel along with him. I found myself missing these details, especially early in the story, but was glad to see this improve as the story went on and the characters became more familiar. As I was drawn into their relationship and the suspense of the plot, I found myself enjoying the tale more and more.

Cheryl Dragon has done a great job constructing a clever plot and two terrific (if wonderfully unlikely) heroes. Though it took me some time to become fully immersed in this book, by the final touching scenes, I found myself enjoying it immensely and would be interested to see what Dragon offers her fans next.
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