Cover Me by L A Witt

Rating: 10/10 ★★★★★★★★★★ 
Title: Cover Me
Author: L A Witt
Genre: contemporary, erotica
URL: Carnal Passions
Price: from US $3.90
Other Information/warnings: Violence, explicit sexual content
Summary [from the publisher]:
When paramedic Nick Swain responds to a shooting in a seedy neighborhood, his entire world is thrown off its axis. His life is threatened…twice. Allegations of racism and medical neglect threaten his career and his ability to sleep at night. Not that he’ll be sleeping any time soon after the incident throws him into the path – and arms – of Detective Andrew Carmichael.

One hot night after another with Andrew may help Nick relieve some stress, but sex won’t solve every problem in his life. With the media hounding him and the city watching his every move, he starts to wonder if the world is out to get him.

The world may not be out to get him, but someone is.

And that someone wants Nick dead

My review:

My god it seems ages since I read a book with this much meat on its bones. This is solid, wonderful, absorbing writing. Nick is a great character – dedicated, passionate, realistic, and doing a hard job as best he can. When he and his partner Leon attend a multiple shooting in a deprived area, there are more victims than they can cope with, so he carries out triage and ‘tags’ the victims in order of priority. An unfortunate but all too credible confusion over the technical expression “black tag”, a victim who turns out to be a cop, and heightened tension among the mostly poor, nonwhite residents, leads to Nick being accused of racism – and worse, ending up under harsh media scrutiny and the threat of death from an angry man connected to one of the victims.

Enter the painfully handsome and competent Detective Carmichael,a perfect match for Nick. He understands the post traumatic stress he’s suffering, and the stress and danger from the hostile media attention and the death threat. He also doesn’t mind being used as a sexual stress toy, something which had broken up Nick’s previous relationship (bitterly exposed in a short confrontation between the two men, which shows their personalities well without demonising either.) As you can expect from a romance, the bond between them builds, but so does Nick’s PTSD and the danger, while Andrew works furiously to keep his new lover safe and their new relationship growing.

I loved how vividly Nick’s increasingly paranoid mental state was conveyed, how his reactions become more and more extreme as the threat of death hangs over him and the would-be killer continues to slip out of the police’s grasp. The fewer than expected sex scenes were never gratuitous, instead showing how Nick needs this form of release, while at the same time, opening up an avenue for real intimacy and connection between two men in occupations where the ugliness is ever-present, and just talking about the shitty day can be more than a person can bear. It’s all from his POV, but I feel Andrew was well-fleshed out, his reactions realistic and proportionate. Witt has a gift for dialogue, whether between wisecracking paramedics, or when two pros working in the underbelly compare notes.

She also handled the very tricky issue of racism well (though I say that as a white woman.) The accusation is false, but the reason for it is all too believable, and you know that it’s coming from a place where the assumption that an action or words are racist are grounded in bitter experience. The reactions of the media, the pressure the 24 hour news cycle puts on those under its grinding wheel, are also nicely done.

Really, I can’t come up with any criticisms bar a minor niggle that the final conflict was powered by one character’s somewhat unrealistic motivations – and it’s very minor indeed because I and no doubt the author could point to dozens of cases where an unhealthy obsession leads to tragedy. The scene that this conflict produces is wonderful, and Nick’s situation had me on the edge of my seat. Witt’s writing is tight, elegant, and pithy. She has a wonderful ear, the ability to describe concisely and clearly without dipping into floridness ,and a way of making sex scenes meaningful, which is a rare gift she shares with the likes of K A Mitchell. I loved all the characters in this book, major and minor, and the plot unrolled in an organic way that made it feel much more realistic and believable than many stories of this type.

Besides I’m a sucker for cop stories, and cop/medical type pairings are my favourite thing. What’s not to like about this one? It’s great value, it’s absorbing, and you’ll want to reread it just to spend more time with Nick and Andrew, two of the most engaging heroes you could ever want. Highly recommended.