Title: Finders, Keepers
Author: Chris Quinton
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Cover Art: Reese Dante
Amazon Link:Finders, Keepers
Genre: contemporary m/m
Length: Novel (244 pdf pages, 51 k words)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Beguiling unsuspecting targets is part of Jeff ‘s job, but when the lie becomes truth, making the right decision can be a tough call–and sometimes, there is no right choice at all.
The Blurb: Coming off a high-pressure undercover job for his company’s covert Retrievals Department, despite being on the edge of burnout, Jeff is thrown straight into another mission, Operation Janvier. His assignment is to trap illegal metal detectorists who’ll be planting a priceless medieval reliquary in a field, and retrieve it. The detectorists are part of an international ring, and the police of several countries are collaborating in the operation.
To be in the right place at the right time, Jeff seduces Alan, son of the farmer who may or may not be in on the million dollar scam. Should be straightforward, easy, and it is. Until Jeff finds himself falling for Alan. But Alan is trying to shake off an obsessive ex-lover, and doesn’t want commitment, just their no strings, friends with benefits relationship. Events have a way of changing minds.
The Review: This book is very loosely connected to another one by this author, Paradox, released earlier this year, insofar as the same international insurance and retrieval company features in both, and both stories take place near archeologically significant sites in the south of England. Nevertheless, Finders,Keepers is a perfect standalone read. I found it well-written and gripping, reasonably paced overall and with just the right amount of action, erotical and otherwise.
The backdrop plot about fraudulent metal detectorists who go ransacking unexplored archeological sites only to place precious items elsewhere in order to discover them and rake in the finders fee–I’d never heard about such a thing, but found it very interesting, and it was depicted in a way I found completely comprehensible. The villains in and of themselves were mean and somewhat over the top, but this made for a satisfying action-filled showdown which I thoroughly enjoyed, not lastly for Alan’s mother–she’s quite the character, that one.
The story was mostly about the romance though. Jeff is used to live along the lines of the end justifying the means, for all intents and purposes prostituting himself in order to accomplish his missions. But lately, he’s come to doubt his credo, particularly since he finds himself falling for his newest target, Alan, son of a farmer who might or might not be involved in the metal detectorist’s antiques fraud.
As a character, I found Jeff the more interesting of the two, and the better developed one. He sure was fascinating, with his talent to change personas like a chameleon, and his conflict was worse than Alan’s. Once he realized that there were feelings at play, his own as well as Alan’s, Jeff found himself torn between warring loyalties. His mission or his feelings, what was more important? His job, which he had come to realize cost him more than he was willing to invest in the long haul, or a future relationship which was nebulous at best, and in fact unlikely to happen once Alan discovered his guile? Basing a relationship on lies and betrayal is likely to cause quite a lot of angst, but with the characterization of Jeff, I found this very well done, dramatic without sliding off into melodrama, and quite fetching. I particularly liked the fact that he didn’t simply do a one-eighty for Alan’s sake. He did his best to cater to both sides, knowing he was digging his own grave but still taking the risk, and this was what won him my heart. Jeff is a liar, and a cheater, but still a very likable character.
Alan on the other hand was so wholesome and guileless he appeared almost naive. He recently came off a relationship with an unfaithful yet possessive closet case, and he told himself he was done with relationships, done with falling in love with the wrong guy and most of all, done with being lied to. Finding out about Jeff’s betrayal hurt him deeply, and of course he went into his sulking corner. Even though I could’ve slapped him for not being more forgiving to Jeff, I could also relate to Alan’s behavior; and although it scraped hard on the edge of the Big Misunderstanding, the two of them cared enough to try and reconcile with each other–or at least had enough common sense to listen to their well-meaning friends. Along with the latter, I thought Alan and Jeff could be good for each other; Alan helped waking Jeff’s conscience as well as his self-awareness while Jeff appealed to Alan’s sense of adventure and showed him that some risks are well worth taking. Anyhow, I found myself crossing my fingers for them.
Overall, this is a pleasant, enjoyable and highly entertaining read, with angst as well as action, and laced with a little bit of delicious humor. I warmly recommend it.