This post includes reviews of the books currently available in the Working Dogs series:
- Sitting Ducks (#0.5)
- Scapegoat (#1)
Sitting Ducks (Working Dogs #0.5)
This novella is available as a free download via Prolific Works as part of the Your Book Boyfriend’s Boyfriend M/M Romance Group Giveaway 2022.
This novella is a study in extremes for me. I truly loved the things I enjoyed about this story, and I was severely annoyed by the things I disliked. They balance each other in the end for the rating I give this book, but I think I’d have a much different reaction had I read it after Scapegoat, the true first story in this series. Gray teases the events of that book by setting this novella after the fact, but all it did was leave me more confused than intrigued.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters and actual relationship arc. If I disregard the confusing baggage carried by both Hayes and Knox, this is a great enemies-to-lovers story where the characters aren’t enemies so much as playing a delightful game of “gay chicken.” Both men make assumptions about the other based on their background, in and out of the FBI. They don’t come out to each other so much as poke and prod at each other until the first kiss reveals all. Even then, the push and pull between them only gets taken to another level, resulting in a truly epic hotel room hookup.
Gray leaves readers with a pretty solid “happily for now,” but I would love to see another story featuring the continued adventures of this new partnership (in all senses of the word).
Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Goodreads.
Scapegoat (Working Dogs #1)
I don’t tend to read about law enforcement officers these days because *gestures at the world*. However, I’ll make an exception for an author I’ve read and enjoyed before and, let’s be honest, puppers (and I’m not even a dog person). Though I can’t speak to how well Gray portrays the FBI’s K9 unit, I was immediately invested in all the characters, both visiting and local, and especially our two heroes.
The highlight of this book is absolutely how well Gray portrays the angst of two lovers reuniting. However, it’s a gentle sort of angst because the lovers who separated were teenagers, but the characters coming back together are adults. Both Cal and Nolan have had more than enough time to grow into their own persons and have the benefit of hindsight regarding their initial separation. Time isn’t wasted on recriminations. One thing I especially appreciated about this book is how the story doesn’t end once the initial missing persons case that brings them together is solved, leaving us at a “happily for now” moment. Instead, we follow the characters through some time afterward, which cements their newfound bond so that I truly believe in a “happily ever after.”
Reading the prequel, Sitting Ducks, first, though it is set after the events of Scapegoat, left me a bit confused about how the timelines mesh. That ended up being more distracting than beneficial, so I highly recommend reading them in chronological order (especially since elements of the novella kind of spoil the main external plot of this book).
As much as I sympathize with Hayes about losing his FBI partner, I am glad for both him and Nolan that they got their true life partners out of the deal. I look forward to the next book in this series, especially since Gray drops a few hints about the next potential romance.