Fleeing the questions and horrific memories in Miami-Dade, Trevor Garrett accepts a deputy position in the small town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi. Plagued by anxiety attacks and an abhorrence to being touched, Trevor rebuffs his best friend’s attempts to set him up. He has no desire for any type of relationship; until the local golden boy strolls into his line of sight at the neighborhood dive…
Logan Andrews just wants to take care of his mama. After years of serving his country in the Army Special Forces, Logan resigns when he learns his mother is suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A night out with old friends turns heated when the newest deputy in town catches his attention…
When a sexually deviant killer sets his sights on the gay men in the area, Trevor is assigned the case. In a wicked twist, all evidence points to Logan. Can Trevor’s past be repeating itself? In a race against a killer, Trevor struggles to overcome his own insecurities and clear the man whose touch sets him on fire. Will he succeed or will their budding relationship become Collateral Damage?
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Book – Collateral Damage
Author – J.T. Cheyenne
Star rating – ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 269
Cover – Great!
POV – 3rd person, multi POV
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – LGBT, Crime, Contemporary, Romance, Military
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
TRIGGER WARNINGS: War scenes (Kosovo), Alzheimer’s, Rape, Anxiety Attacks, and a reference to Haphephobia (a fear of being touched), sexually deviant killer (author’s words, but a good description of what you’ll read about)
Okay, so let me first say that this totally would have been a 5 star read if not for one problem: there were a bucket load of editing mistakes. Now, I normally don’t remove stars for editing, unless it’s severe, and this one is. It’s not just the spelling/grammar issues, though there are plenty (missing words, missing commas, extra spaces, misplaced apostrophes, tense switches etc) but there was a serious issue with mislabeled characters. In one scene, I was totally confused because the name Logan was used instead of Trevor and I spent half a page trying to figure out why Logan was in the scene, talking about himself in 3rd person, because most of the speech labels were ‘he’, before I found out it was really Trevor in the scene.
Other than the issues mentioned, this book was fantastic and I really, really wanted to overlook the issues to make it 5 stars, but I just couldn’t.
Another issue I had with the story is that it’s billed as an “erotic paranormal” at the beginning of the book. There is nothing paranormal about this story.
I really enjoyed the start. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think. I don’t really like books that begin with a sex scene, but this was so different that I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Beginning the book with neither of the main characters, but the actual killer was a great surprise and learning his motivation so early on came as a bit of a shock. However, after that first chapter, we didn’t meet the killer or hear about their crimes until 35% which was a little late into the book. As I was reading, until that point, I begin to wonder why it took so long.
When it comes to the main characters – Logan and Trevor – I really liked and connected with both of them, through both their POV’s. Trevor is scarred by his past and, though Logan should be too, having been in Kosovo and the army, he’s actually much more prepared for the horrors of daily life. He’s strong in a way that Trevor needs and it’s great to see them connecting with each other.
At the same time, I love Noah, Ashton and even Dristan. I enjoy seeing them in all their scenes, even if I didn’t get their POV directly. Dristan was intriguing, Noah and Ashton were fun and, surprisingly enough, I even enjoyed the killer’s POV, because it gave so much away, without ever really giving too much. I’m not going to name the killer, but I really did understand the motivation, why they’d done what they’d done and how. It’s only the second time that I’ve ever felt sympathy and understanding for a serial killer, despite how heinous the crimes were.
The story was full of surprises; from the Noah aspect of the story, which totally shocked me, the extent of the crimes and that last attack against Trevor. The crimes were shown in just enough detail, nothing too awfully disturbing, and always held an emotional edge. It was a little cruel of the author to let us get attached to Scotty, right there in the first chapter and the same with Noah, when his storyline came along. It was all so touching and so many of the plot arcs took me by surprise. From Brae to Dris and all the little bits in between, Trevor’s back story and all, there was always a new secret to discover, a new surprise waiting around the corner, until the final chapters, where everything came together.
There was great attention to detail, when describing Alzheimer’s, which I happen to know a lot about. It wasn’t used as a side-story or as something to keep Logan busy and bring him home, but which never went anywhere like some books do. This one fully explored the mental and emotional implications of Alzheimer’s on the patient and the family.
On the negative side: I knew who the killer was at 50%, which was basically just picking up clues that the author dropped into the story. It lessened a little of the surprise, but that’s not the author’s fault.
Going back to the issues, there were some incomplete sentences, and places where it’s implied that Logan is being questioned during a conversation, but where Trevor actually answers as though it was directed towards him. There are a lot of little inconsistencies like that. I also didn’t really like the phrases “air sawed in and out” for breathing. It was repeated often enough that it got annoying, rather than being a strange, different way of describing it.
I also had to spend quite a bit of time confused, while reading, then do some research when the book was finished. Acronyms like BDU (Battle Dress Uniform), MLB (Major League Baseball), PDQ (Pretty Damn Quick), are completely foreign to me. I had no clue what they were without the help of Google, which meant I floundered quite a bit during the areas they were mentioned, because I had no clue what they were talking about and nothing was explained or even hinted at. There was a very brief glossary at the start of the book, but it only contains the foreign Spanish and Afghani phrases used by Braeden and Dristan.
Some of this is because I’m not American. I have no need to understand MLB or BDU, since I’m a civilian like many readers and have no experience with these acronyms. I’ve also never heard of PDQ and, unfortunately, none of these are “obvious” or instantly make sense in the context of the story. If there had been a hint of what they might mean or what they might refer to, it would have been so much easier to understand the events as I read them, rather than Googling, going back and having a total “Ah!” moment when I finally understand what the author meant.
I feel that it was important for this to be addressed in the very brief glossary at the beginning, since it pops up multiple times, without any explanation for us civilians. The same went for the term ‘bacrim’, which I had to look up and could only guess meant what Google said it would.
I really loved the mystery, the surprise and the total attention to detail in this story. From page one, it was a fantastic piece of storytelling that I never got bored with. I read it in one sitting, determined to find out who the killer was, from the very first page.
However, due to the inconsistencies with the editing – mostly contained to spelling/grammar and understanding of the story, not with the plot – I had to take points off. If the story hadn’t been so compelling, I might even have docked it down to 3 stars, because it was such a prevailing issue.
Thankfully, the whole book was captivating and enthralling. Not too much romance, not too much crime/gore and not too much sex. Just a great balance between all three, that left me willing to read so much more about these two. If the author decides to give them another mystery to solve, I’ll be there with bells on.
#1 Best Selling Author of Grand Slam, J.T. Cheyanne is a genre crosser who writes romance and paranormal in the m/m and m/f genres. J.T. Cheyanne resides in the beautiful state of Alabama. J.T. lives with her two sons and daughter. An avid reader since fourth grade, she has only just started writing her own stories. She also has several works published with her co-author, V.L. Moon.