Guest Review: Sins of the Father (Wilde Love, #2) by Sam Burns

Six years ago, Keegan Quinn was working for his father in the Irish Mob. When a shootout left him shattered in more ways than one, he left the family business and opened a bar in downtown Chicago. Now with his father sick and the FBI investigating the family, his old life is threatening to tear his new one apart.

The last thing FBI agent Jon Brookfield expected to find while investigating the mob was a kind, soft-spoken man like Keegan Quinn. Dating wasn’t in Jon’s plans, but he’s willing to make changes. When the Quinn family business and Keegan’s ex-boyfriend threaten to come between them, Jon has to decide just how important their newfound relationship is to him.

This novel is intended for adult audiences, and contains swearing, violence, and sex scenes.

Guest Reviewer - Annery

I waited an eternity between the reading of this book and the writing of a review. Why? Did I love it or hate it so much? Not at all. In many ways it was a leaps and bounds better than the first book in the series. The big improvement for me was the almost absolute absence of Alex & Liam from “Straight from the Heart”, the first book in the series. Small favors that mean everything. I dragged my feet because I couldn’t summon enthusiasm for or against the book and that just blows.

This book picks up a short time after the first one ended and deals with the fallout of the events at the end of book one, mainly Patrick O’Hanrahan giving himself up to the authorities and taking the heat off Brendan Quinn. Except things haven’t worked out as expected and the FBI has opened up an investigation into Brendan Quinn and his business. Go figure. Part of the this entails interviewing all known associates of the Quinn family including Keegan Quinn, Brendan Quinn’s eldest son and owner of Wilde’s. Enter Jonathan Brookfield. On paper Jon is an excellent character:

“Jon was an out and proud gay man in the FBI, and the bureau didn’t have a problem with that. The problem was that he wasn’t one of those guys with biceps the size of a normal person’s thighs, who had a deep voice and easily passed for straight. Jonathan Brookfield was one of those guys that everyone knew was gay.”

Nice. It made me happy to have a guy who wasn’t all macho bulk and basically a cis wet dream. I thought we’d turned a page, or in this case a book, and that’s true to a certain extent. This book is quieter, less gabby, and the relationships more believable than the first book. Improvement is always a good thing. The problem is how we get to the relationship between Jon and Keegan and of course the celerity with which they get from meeting and falling head over heels. At this point I should just accept that Insta Love is just the speed at which Sam Burns works, and I’m not necessarily averse to it, I just have to believe in it and this didn’t get me there.

Jon and Keegan meet when Jon goes to Wilde’s to interview Keegan about the Quinn family affairs. Keegan has extricated himself from all Quinn business for valid reasons which are touched upon in “Straight from the Heart” and explained further here. So far so good, except that when an FBI agent comes digging into your dad’s illegal business, is your first instinct to flirt with him? And if you’re investigating the scion of a crime family do you just say ‘screw it’ and start dating him instead? Apparently, yes. This is the first meeting of our love birds:

“He turned, pasting a smile on his face and holding out his hand to shake. It faltered when he got his first look at Keegan Quinn in the flesh. His mugshot had been a horrible, filthy lie. He’d looked decent in it, but nothing like the man in front of Jon -- a GQ model, complete with the artistic stubble, piercing eyes, and Armani suit.”

Our boys are immediately drawn to each other and Keegan is readily confiding in Jon and Jon decides that he wants to date Keegan and recuses himself from the investigation. All of this after one brief meeting. Sure. Let’s go with it. I can roll with almost anything. It was just the accumulation of small irritants that ultimately left me underwhelmed.

Here’s Jon when he comes to ask Keegan out and finds him sad about his father’s health. It’s the second time they’re meeting:

“For the first time in his life, Jon didn’t know what to want. He hated Brendan Quinn on principle, but he couldn’t stand anything that made Keegan look so dejected.”

Here’s Keegan mad because his father, logically, questions why an FBI agent is dating his son:

“He slammed the bureau shut. ‘Seriously? Are you telling me that he’s dating me to get information about you? Jesus, Dad, I know you don’t trust federal agents, but that’s about the most self-centered thing I’ve ever heard. Did it even occur to you that maybe he’s dating me because he likes me?”

Jon admiring Keegan’s beauty:

“Even objectively, he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen a more beautiful man than Keegan Quinn. Maybe that was the problem, though. Keegan was as beautiful as he was handsome, with full lips and long eyelashes that some people might see as feminine.”

Keegan thinking about his situation with Jon:

“The whole thing was ridiculous. He wasn’t a Capulet. Jon wasn’t a Montague. And he really wasn’t sure why he had just assigned himself the feminine role in his own stupid, nonexistent fantasy universe. Jonathan, oh Jonathan, wherefore art thou FBI?”

I could go on but that would be exhausting so I’ll list what I did like.

I could become invested in the romance between Jon & Keegan if I separated them from everything the author tells us is their world. I liked that though perhaps slightly swishy Jon doesn’t back down in the face of what is right, that he’s protective of Keegan, and even when the author flirts with the possibility that Keegan may be asexual Jon is okay with it:

“And in case it wasn’t obvious, I’m not in it only for sex. Or sex at all, if that’s not what you’re into.”

Keegan is a bit more opaque, and I felt like there was so much more that could have been developed with his story, but I liked him and his low key self. I really liked, and was pleasantly surprised, by the sexual dynamics of these two as a couple. I was rooting for them. Alas the annoying friends straight out of sitcom-land where like sand in a bathing suit. I’m looking at you Brit, the overly involved straight girlfriend, the members of the band who continue to be just as irksome as they were in the first book, the conversations between grown men, gay or not, bonding over cake, that could be lifted from any rom-com. However the real stake through the heart is the whole concept of Brendan Quinn. He’s like a character from some dark mafia book dropped into a story that, despite what the author would tell us, is all sunshine and flowers. Brendan Quinn is meant to be the main Irish mafia boss in Chicago and yet all we get is a cantankerous but sweet older guy, loving and accepting of his two gay sons. Sure. I didn’t believe a word of it. I don’t know why the author felt compelled to have the mafia involved in this at all. Jon & Keegan with no reference to Keegan’s family origins would have worked quite well for me, in spite of the insta and the annoying friends.

To end on a positive note I’ll say that this was an improvement over the first book in the series, at least for me, and I could see the lovers of fluff being happy with this read.

A review copy was provided.

Trivia Question: Which book features an MC that lost his high school boyfriend in a car crash while reading a sext from him? 10 pts

Random winner will be chosen 11/22. I'm traveling all week so I'll do my best to notify the winner no later than 6 pm EST.

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