Title: The Trouble With Tony
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Tony DeMarco, Jack Halloran
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Erotic Romance
As part of the investigation into the murder of a young woman, Seattle P.I. Tony DeMarco poses as a patient of Dr. Jack Halloran, the therapist who treated the victim at a Seattle sex clinic. This isn’t the first time Tony has gone undercover, but it’s the first time he’s wanted to go under cover with one of his suspects. He can’t help it—Jack Halloran is just the kind of steely-eyed hero Tony goes for. But he’ll have to prove Halloran’s innocence and keep the doctor from finding out about his ruse before he can play Romeo.
Dr. Halloran has his own issues, including a damaged right arm sustained in the line of duty as a combat surgeon in Iraq and the PTSD that followed. He’s confused to find himself attracted to a new patient, the big, funny Italian with the puppy-dog eyes, and Tony’s humor slips right past Jack’s defenses, making him feel things he thought long buried. But can the doctor and the P.I. find a path to romance despite the secrets between them?
Tony is a PI, investigating the apparent suicide of Marilyn, all around nice woman. The case leads Tony to a sex clinic where Marilyn was being treated by Jack, a gorgeous former army surgeon whose arm is shot to hell. Tony goes in posing as a patient, but when his first story doesn’t fly with smart Jack, he’s forced to admit his true problem, his picky dick as he calls it. Jack promises to help. Soon Tony finds his dick picking Jack without prejudice, making his case that much harder to solve.
Tony is a confident, big beefcake of a man, while Jack is more rigid, withdrawn into a romance-free life. Tony falls for his doctor and Jack falls for his patient. And all the while Marilyn’s death is beginning to seem more like murder than suicide. There are several psychiatric phenomena here, such as sexual surrogacy, that are significant to the case and the story itself. A fascinating backdrop, not much used except for outright erotica, which this isn’t. In fact, this reads very realistic, making me think Ms. Easton knows her stuff. There are therapy sessions depicted here, both with words and touches.
The characters are wonderful, slowly coming out of their shells and accepting what they feel. The plot is swifter, forcing the men to acknowledge their growing attraction, and Tony still has a murderer to find. There’s a mix of dialogue and action here. Though I found the ending a bit abrupt and the small section of violence there somewhat anticlimactic, this is still a good sweet romance with suspense elements. The case itself is not hard to figure out, but proving it is another matter.
As usual, Ms. Easton’s writing is fluent and expert in every sense, making the reading experience simply effortless and pleasant. Overall, this is not a very intricate mystery, but the characters and the unique background more than make up for it. I read this in one sitting, and was totally entertained, from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Reviewed By: Susan