Guest Review: Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford

Lieutenant Connor Morgan of SFPD’s SWAT division wasn’t looking for love. Especially not in a man. His life plan didn’t include one Forest Ackerman, a brown-eyed, blond drummer who’s as sexy as he is trouble. His family depends on him to be like his father, a solid pillar of strength who’ll one day lead the Morgan clan.

No, Connor has everything worked out—a career in law enforcement, a nice house, and a family. Instead, he finds a murdered man while on a drug raid and loses his heart comforting the man’s adopted son. It wasn’t like he’d never thought about men — it’s just loving one doesn’t fit into his plans.

Forest Ackerman certainly doesn’t need to be lusting after a straight cop, even if Connor Morgan is everywhere he looks, especially after Frank’s death. He’s just talked himself out of lusting for the brawny cop when his coffee shop becomes a war zone and Connor Morgan steps in to save him.

Whoever killed his father seems intent on Forest joining him in the afterlife. As the killer moves closer to achieving his goal, Forest tangles with Connor Morgan and is left wondering what he’ll lose first—his life or his heart.

Rhys Ford has magical powers.

That’s the only explanation I can come up with to explain the beauty and genius that pours off the pages of Tequila Mockingbird.    I ran the emotional gauntlet on this one: I laughed, I cried, I made pterodactyl noises.  I loved every minute of it.
Forest Ackerman is a character that, from the moment he appears on the page, burrows under skin and doesn’t let go.  It would be easy to pity Forest; his introduction is one of the most heartbreaking, rage inducing character meets I have ever read, but Forest has too much pride, too much spirit and too much strength to pity. 

Forest has led a life that would rival any Dickensian orphan.  His childhood was stolen away from him by the twin beasts of abuse and neglect and if not for the intervention of Frank Marshall, Forest’s life would have most likely landed him in the cemetery or the penitentiary.   Frank, an aging hippie with a good heart and a bit of unconventional approach to life, stumbles across a broken, battered Forest and can’t bring himself to walk away.  Frank may not be anyone’s idea of a white knight but he ends up being Forest’s savior, taking him away from a life of hardship and horror and giving him something akin to normalcy.  Frank isn’t a typical father figure-he’s a bit gruff and rough around the edges and he’d probably make June Cleaver clutch her pearls but he loves Forest with everything he has in him and gives him the best life that he can and even though they both know that it’s not quite enough, it’s so much better than anything that Forest has had before or anything that he would have found out on the streets that Frank’s shortcomings don’t really matter.  Forest is loved, he’s safe, he’s warm and he’s welcome and with Frank he finds a place to belong and someone to belong to.

And then, in an explosion of fire and violence Frank’s ripped away from him and Forest is thrown into a sea of grief so deep and dark that he’s afraid he’s going to drown in it.

Enter Connor Morgan.

Now, those of you familiar with this series know that a Morgan man is the embodiment of all that is good and right and HOT LIKE FIRE and Conner is no exception to this rule.  He’s a strong, tall, handsome drink of Irish Whiskey and Forest is ready to chug him down like frat boy doing tequila shots at a keg party…

Except Connor isn’t gay.

And he’s a cop.

And he’s knee deep in the middle of Frank’s murder investigation.

So common sense and self preservation are telling Forest to run—not walk—in the opposite direction from Lt. Connor Morgan.  Unfortunately, his heart is telling him to grab on with both hands and not let go.

And Connor?  Connor is in the middle of his own head vs. heart crisis.  Connor had a plan for his life: wear the blue, honor the badge, buy the house, get the girl, have some kids.  In short, Connor has always wanted to be his father’s son, right down to living his father’s life and the broken, beautiful blond haired, brown eyed and very male Forest Ackerman does not fit into his life plan.  But from the moment he gets his arms around Forest and hold him up while his world burned down around him, Connor’s life plan is thrown off course.  And he just can’t find it in him to care.

Connor and Forest are like caramelized sugar.  They’re sweet but not fluffy.  There’s a lot of doubt on both sides of the relationship—Connor because he’s struggling to come to terms what loving a man means for his life, his career, his family and his sense of self and Forest because he’s struggling to accept that a man as good and decent as Connor can look at him and see a man worth saving, let alone a man worth loving.

And if that weren’t enough, there’s a psychotic murderer on the loose who is bound and determined to see Forest dead.

This book is a wonderful addition to the Sinner’s Series.  There’s a rich tapestry of previously introduced background characters (Donal, Kane, Brigid, Damien, Miki ect) and a strengthening of previously touched upon relationships (Quinn/Connor, Donal/Connor) that make it feel a bit like coming home while at the same time introducing new faces (such as Forest’s friend Jules) and creating new bonds (the Forest/Miki/Damien) so it doesn’t feel like a rinse/repeat of what’s been done before.

And that is where a lot of the genius of Tequila Mockingbird lies.  With a series it’s easy for an author to become formulaic.  As a reader there’s nothing worse than getting into a book series and starting to feel as if the author is “phoning it in”.  While on the surface it appears that every book in the Sinner’s Series follows the same recipe: Take one MC with a history of abuse and serious self-esteem issue, stir in a heroic Morgan man, add a homicidal maniac and a high body, spoon in a sizzling hot romance, bring to a boil, sprinkle with an assortment of Morgan family members and serve…the books themselves all have such different tones and evoke such different emotions that they’re anything but cookie cutter.  And that’s what keeps me coming back for another helping.

The writing in this book is nothing short of fantastic.  There’s a beautiful, almost lyrical quality to Rhys Ford’s writing but it never devolves into the dreaded “purple prose”. 

There was very little I didn’t love about this book.  From the relationships to the mystery to the inclusion of other characters without over shadowing the main couple, everything was spot on.  If I have a niggle it’s that the resolution of the mystery was a bit of a “huh, really” moment because the villain’s motivation is a bit a weak but that’s really my only complaint.

And that ending!!!

That ending had me throwing my down my e-reader and running around my bedroom calling on Jesus because OH MY GOD THAT ENDING!!!
I need the next book like a Real Housewife of Atlanta needs her weave. 
Write fast Rhys, because OH MY GOD!!!!

~Guest Review by Shelley~

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