Guest Review: Ripping Off the Mask by Harper Jewel

Can injured Sgt. Cooper Brandt, with the help of Dr. Westley James, rip off the mask he donned as self-imposed penance at the end of high school, or will fate determine a different path for both men?

Thirteen years after high schooler Cooper Brandt suffered a life-altering tragedy, Newark Police Sergeant Cooper Brandt suffers yet another earthshaking misfortune while on duty. As a result, he lets the mask he donned because of his first grief-filled setback slip. When overwhelming guilt consumes him for a second time, an unexpected, and oftentimes unwanted, helping hand tries to force him into making a choice: face his demons and rip the mask off, or continue living a lie while his facade stays put.

Upon his move to New Jersey, aqua therapist Dr. Westley James meets his toughest patient yet when a snarly police sergeant accuses him of duplicity at the start of their first session. When he discovers the reason for Cooper’s ornery attitude, an odd, empty feeling he’s lived with for as long as he can remember begins to fill in like missing pieces of a puzzle.

As a fragile relationship between Cooper and Westley grows, an unhinged sociopath threatens to ruin everything. Will fate force the emotionally bruised sergeant to fasten his mask on even more tightly, or will the couple’s blooming love and partnership be strong enough to help Cooper rip his mask off for good?

Reviewer: NeRdyWYRM

Unmask Me Anytime, Baby

There isn't anything I didn't like about this story. It was really phenomenal. Cooper tugged on all my heartstrings. There is something to be said for someone who is a professional self-flagellator. I was pulling for him to pull his head out of his ass the whole time. In some ways it was exhausting, but I was invested in his journey and that made it easier.

Westley was a rock for Coop. There was a lot going on. A lot that had to be hard to deal with. Cooper certainly didn't make it easy with his cactus routine, either. Thankfully, Wes was no stranger to hard work or going after what he wanted even if it was hard ... and painful.

I had to reread the blurb so I don't spoil anything too much and it's making this review hard going, I won't lie, because there's so much to say that I just can't! So I'll leave it with a bullet point summary.

There are some great themes in this one: repeated personal tragedies loosely tied to one MCs sexuality, a 'chance' meeting paving the way for a second-first-chance, hurt-comfort, personal growth/realization, lost family ties, a small paranormal twist, murder, mystery, general mayhem and all of that and uniforms, too. Mm-hmm.

You'd think that that many complications in one book could turn into one hot mess, but no. Jewel did an excellent job of twining everything in the plot into a cohesive and fluid story that pushed all my buttons.

I'm going to keep it simple because I really can't do anything else. Read this book. Read it now. It's that good.

More reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be found on Goodreads here.
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An ARC copy of this title was provided for an honest review.

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