Sometimes I read books despite the trigger warnings at the end of the back-cover blurb. In this case, I picked this book because of one of the trigger warnings. I have a professional interest in HIV due to my day job, and I’m always interested in seeing how HIV and HIV prevention are addressed in romance, especially queer romance. I get excited whenever PrEP is mentioned, but this is only the third book I’ve read in which one of the main characters has HIV.
Both Joe’s HIV status and Tanner’s heroin use are alluded to in the text before the author explicitly spells them out, and both things cause conflict between the three main characters. Pyotr can’t get on much of a high horse because of his current life situation, and I enjoyed the honest arc between him and Joe as truths come out and tensions rise, then ease. I especially appreciated how the author handles Joe’s status, in how he came out the losing side of the odds he played with his earlier life, but that he is not a character set out as a tragic example who must be punished.
In fact, I loved how all three men ended up with a happily ever after despite the conflicts they faced both separately and together. This book could have worked with distinct romance arcs between three different couples (though we’d have lost the fun spy shenanigans in one of them). Chris brings this story to the next level by intertwining them, packing the perfect amount of tension and angst into the intriguing and shifting plot. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a different twist on the romantic suspense story, featuring dynamic and unapologetic characters I couldn’t help but root for.