Thursday, August 2, 2018

Blogger Review: Lies & Deception by Nic Starr

Detective Mitch O’Neill is the ideal man to infiltrate the Soldiers of Fury Motorcycle Club. His ex-boyfriend, Peter, is pledged with the club, which provides Mitch with the perfect cover. Despite the relationship ending badly, he’s come to terms with Peter’s drug addiction and his inability to help. All Mitch wants now is to bring down the Soldiers and the club president, Rocky Cummings, once and for all.

Finn Cummings hates everything the motorcycle club stands for, but he’s unable to escape his brother’s clutches. When Mitch is assigned as Finn’s driver, they spend countless hours together, and the saying proves true—opposites do attract. Finn agonizes over his feelings for Mitch—the last thing he wants is to involve himself further with criminals, not when he wants to leave that world. Mitch tries to come to terms with falling for a member of the outlaw club he’s determined to destroy.

If they can survive the fallout from Rocky’s violence and the investigation, they might discover it’s not a case of opposites attract after all.

When Detective Mitch O’Neill needs an in to go undercover with the Soldiers of Fury MC he finds it in his ex-boyfriend Peter.  Finn Cummings, brother to club president Rocky Cummings, hates everything the club has become under Rocky's rule finds himself forced back into Soldiers' work.  When Mitch lands a position as Finn's driver, their attraction causes problems for both, Finn doesn't want to involve Mitch with the criminals he's longing to escape from and Mitch hates to use Finn in his investigation to bring the club down.  Will their attraction be enough to overcome the obstacles they face or will Rocky's rule of violence be one obstacle too many?

I can't say that motorcycle club stories are on my goto list of reads but I still enjoy them so when one reaches my Kindle its because I saw something in the blurb that pulled me in and Lies & Deception is no different.  Was it the cop going undercover?  Was it the president brother forced back into the fold?  Was it the opposites attract?  I can't really say just what it was about Nic Starr's story blurb that piqued my interest but I was definitely intrigued.  I will admit that it took a few chapters to really sink my teeth in but in hindsight that had more to do with me not ready to let go of the characters in the book I finished before starting Lies & Deception than it did with Mitch and Finn.  Despite the delayed reaction I soon couldn't put it down and before I knew it the final page was swiped.

You can't help but fall for Finn, yes it was easy for me to say "get a backbone and leave" but then I could see how he may not like his brother but Rocky was the only family he had and completely walking away from that could be a stumbling block.  There are moments when the author really made it difficult to like Mitch, but then you remember that he's undercover trying to bring the ruthless Rocky down and that isn't exactly a rainbows-and-unicorns kind of job.  What I really wanted to do was reach inside my kindle and knock their heads together at times and then there were moments I just wanted to wrap them up in bubblewrap and ship them to a private island where Rocky and life couldn't touch them.

And don't even get me started on Rocky because once I started I don't think I could keep my opinion very clean. So the less I mention him the better, he's the kind of character you need to read for yourself to see what makes him tick.  As for Mitch's ex, Peter, I want to help him and its easy to see why Mitch did too but sometimes people just have to want it before they can be helped.

Lies & Deception may not be the best motorcycle club tale I've ever read but it certainly ranks up there.  The characters, the setting, the tension, the romance, Nic Starr brings it all together in a very entertaining and enjoyable read that I highly recommend.


DETECTIVE MITCH O’Neill cautiously navigated the unmarked car through the throng of people lining the street until he couldn’t move forward any farther. He parked, threw on the hand brake, and flicked the ignition. He sighed as he looked at his partner, Ross Sloane. Ross didn’t look happy and raised his eyebrows, but he didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. Another day, another death, another gawking crowd. The same shit.

A couple of heads turned at the slam of the car doors, but most onlookers were too enthralled with the action to pay much attention to their arrival. Mitch flicked the fob and pocketed his keys before making his way to the front of the gathering. Mitch and Ross ducked under the blue-and-white police tape that held back the small crowd and marked off the entrance to the crime scene, and the uniformed officers greeted him by name. Unfortunately there’d been too many scenes like this lately for them not to be able to put a name to a face.

“Detective O’Neill.”

He nodded at the young cop. “Jones. Any updates?”

“Homicide are in the building with the forensic team. The crime scene examiner and forensic pathologist just arrived.”

There wasn’t much more to say, so Mitch nodded and headed in.

The factory was a single sprawling building set in the center of a large industrial block. Seven-foot-high chain-link fencing surrounded the site, except for the wide gap that used to be secured by the gates. The gates were now hanging open, the left one attached only by a single hinge and both bent out of shape.

Mitch nodded at the mangled metal. “Looks like it was rammed.”

“Yeah. The question is whether it was before the shooting or after,” Ross said.

“Are you thinking a robbery gone wrong?”

“Could be. Although if it is, it doesn’t fit the pattern we’re looking for.”

“Maybe they’re expanding their operations.” Mitch didn’t think it likely, but it couldn’t be ruled out. “What do they do in this factory, anyway? Got any idea?”

“Not a clue. Guess we’ll find out when we get inside.”

The huge sliding doors of the corrugated iron building were open. Mitch and Ross stepped inside. As soon as his eyes adjusted to the dimness of the interior, which was in direct contrast to the bright summer’s day outside, he moved forward. It wasn’t hard to know where to go next.

The vic lay on the dirty concrete floor, not far from the entrance. Mitch acknowledged his colleagues who were working around the body and stepped as close as he could get. Half the guy’s head was missing, but there was enough of his face left for an ID. Even if Mitch hadn’t been able to identify Russell “the Rabbit” Hutchins from his facial features, he would have recognized his affiliation from the tattoo on his upper arm, made visible due to the filthy sleeveless tank top. The usual black leather jacket with its distinctive patch was missing.

“Fuck,” Mitch muttered under his breath.

Paolo Rossi, crouched next to the body, looked up from where he’d been writing in a notepad. “One of yours?”

“Uh-huh. Russell Hutchins.”

“Figured he was one of the Soldiers, which is why we got in contact.”

“Yeah, the tat gives it away. What can you tell me?”

Paolo stood and pocketed the notebook. He was one of the best homicide detectives around, so at least Mitch knew the case was in good hands. “Looks like it happened sometime late last night or in the early hours of this morning. Still waiting on the crime scene examiner to give a more accurate time. Nobody heard anything, so the body wasn’t found until first thing when the 7:00 a.m. shift workers turned up for work.”

Mitch glanced farther into the building. “What do they do here?”

Paolo shrugged. “I haven’t had a chance to speak with the owners yet, but something to do with manufacturing prefabricated metal.”

“What the fuck has that got to do with the Soldiers anyway?” Ross looked as baffled as Mitch felt.

“Who knows? Perhaps there’s something else going on here besides manufacturing. Has this place been flagged for anything suspicious?” Mitch pulled his collar away from his neck; it was still early, but it was heating like a sauna in the confines of the giant tin can of a building.

“Nothing yet, but we’re still looking, so I wouldn’t rule it out yet.”

“Maybe it was just a case of wrong time, wrong place?” Paolo suggested.

Mitch snorted. “Yeah right! There’s no such thing as coincidence where these guys are concerned. There’ll be some reason for the Rabbit to have been here. We just need to work out what it is.”

“Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to it,” Paolo said. “I’ll let you know what we come up with once the forensics are complete.”

“I’ll put my money on death by bullet to the head,” Ross said.

“Ha-ha,” Paolo commented dryly before he turned and made his way back to his team.

Mitch looked at the body again. The sight of the brain matter and congealed blood, together with the coppery stench overlaid with machine oil, turned his stomach. He’d never been so grateful not to have had time for breakfast before the call came in. Although caffeine was another story.

“C’mon, let’s get out of here. I need a coffee.” He tilted his head toward the exit.

Ross fell into step beside him. “I need a stiff drink.”

Mitch glanced at his partner and raised a brow. He sounded like he was half-serious. “Why? The job getting to you?”

“Nah, hair of the dog, mate.”

Mitch almost stumbled, the words being so unlike Ross. They’d worked together for three years, and this was the first time he’d remotely indicated coming into work with a hangover. Not that Mitch could say the same thing. They ducked under the checkered police tape again. The crowd had thinned, obviously bored by the lack of action.

The dark-leather interior of the sedan was hot when Mitch slid into his seat, the metal of the seat belt buckle hot to the touch. “Jesus, it’s going to be a stinker today,” he said, almost to himself.

“Bloody oath.” Ross clipped himself in and pulled a pair of dark glasses from the top pocket of his suit jacket. He laid his head back against the headrest with a sigh.

Mitch started the car and threw an arm behind Ross’s seat. He reversed one-handed, dodging the police cars and the ambulance and the couple of news vans that had finally turned up. He said a silent prayer he’d avoided the journalists, knowing they’d be hounding them for information about the case if they had even the remotest sniff of something gang related.

It didn’t take long to clear the industrial area, with its block after block of gray and dreary buildings, all surrounded by equally gray concrete. Fuck, it was bleak. It was now peak hour, and the traffic was horrendous. It looked like it would be a while before Mitch enjoyed that first longed-for cup of coffee. He put it out of his mind along with the desire for a smoke. He had taken up the habit after breaking up with Peter, the only thing he regretted about that relationship.

“Fuck,” he muttered under his breath.

“What’s wrong?” Ross asked, straightening in his seat.

“Nothing, just wanting a cigarette.”

Ross chuckled. “Nothing new, then. You always want a ciggie.”

“Fuck off.”

Ross laughed again and reached into his pocket. He passed the piece of gum to Mitch, who popped it into his mouth with satisfaction. Yeah, there were benefits to working together for so long.

“So you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

“Who says anything’s wrong?”

He snuck a sideways glance at Ross before returning his gaze to the road. “Hair of the dog. Remember?”

Ross sighed. “It’s Shelley.”

“Things still not going well between you guys?” Ross and Shell had been married for only two years, but maybe the seven-year itch had already started to settle in.

“Understatement of the century.” Ross sighed again. “She’s not happy with the way things are going.”

“Yeah?” Mitch braked behind the line of cars crawling toward the city.

“She wants to have a kid, but I’m not sure now’s a good time. I mean, we’re in the middle of the investigation, and I’m hardly ever home. I can’t be there through the pregnancy, and what about when the baby is born?”

“I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask, mate. I know nothing about having kids. But from what I hear, there’s never a good time. If you wait for the stars to align or whatever the fuck sign is needed, you’ll never have one.”

“The voice of reason, as usual.”

Mitch snorted, then breathed a sigh of relief as the traffic started slowly moving again. “So what is it? Money? The commitment? Other than the kid thing, are you and Shell okay?”

“Aside from fighting all the time, yeah.” Ross chuckled, and then his voice grew serious. “I love her and really want a family with her.”

Mitch could hear the warmth in Ross’s voice and swallowed down the flare of jealousy. He was happy for Ross but slightly envious of his relationship. “So what’s stopping you?”

“I don’t like the thought of something happening to me. What if she’s left alone to raise the kid?”

“Jesus, Ross. That’s a bit pessimistic, isn’t it?” He glanced at Ross, who shrugged.

“Maybe, but fuck, cops are killed on the job all the time.”

“And a lot of cops aren’t. Half the department is married with kids. Hell, there are mothers out there on the front line.” Mitch indicated and pulled off the freeway, joining the line of cars heading downtown.

“I know. I know I’m not being logical, but these guys are bloody dangerous.”

“Too right they are. But that’s why we’re taking them down. We’re close, Ross, especially now with the tip-offs we keep getting. I know we’re closing in.”

“I hope you’re right.” Ross sighed. “I wish I could be like you, all gung-ho and positive energy, but it’s sucking me dry, mate. The hours, the shit we see every day….” They drove silently for a while.

Mitch had no idea what to say to Ross. He was shit at this type of thing. He was okay at listening, but when it came to advice? He couldn’t even make his own relationship work, so what good would he be at giving advice to anyone else? And especially advice about women? No way in hell. His sister, Vanessa, was still a mystery to him, and he had grown up with her. He’d spent the last twenty-nine years of his life trying to get a handle on her and had finally come to the conclusion it was never going to happen. They might have been twins and had a special bond, but they were like chalk and cheese.

“You want me to get the coffees?” Ross’s question pulled Mitch from his reverie once he parked the car in the underground parking garage.

“Sure. That’d be great.”

They crossed the car park and got in the lift together. Ross exited when it reached the ground floor. Mitch continued up to the seventeenth floor, where the doors slid open onto the headquarters of Operation Solo.

Author Bio:
Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!

When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family–an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters–and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.