Reviewed for Netgalley.com
Many books in this genre seem to dissolve into a thread-thin plot that fruitlessly tries to hold together an endless string of pointless albeit explicit sex scenes. I’m not a prude and have no problem with racy scenes, but my books have to have strong plots and characters that are developed and more than an empty shell with pretty wrapping. Otherwise, the stories aren’t worth reading. Fortunately, Grime and Punishment avoids that pitfall and proves to have a very strong character in Jack, a former firefighter who was terribly injured on the job and now runs his own company, cleaning up crime and suicide scenes and the messes they leave behind.
Unfortunately, even the filthiest crime scene can’t compare to the mess that Jack is on the inside. A brutal betrayal has left him alone and afraid to trust anyone. His life has become an endless string of one-night stands and loneliness. And then he gets the biggest shock of his life. His first love has committed suicide, and the aftermath opens old wounds and exposes Jack to the one thing he never thought he would have: a shot at true love.
Z.A. Maxfield has created an interesting and damaged character in Jack Masterson and explores the effects of injury, betrayal, and healing. If I have one complaint, it’s that I would have liked to see other characters developed more throughout the book. A few chapters from the POV of Jack’s friends would have, in my opinion, made them stronger, deeper characters and would have given the reader a better sense of Jack’s past and the people in his life. There is an incident towards the end that left me feeling like I didn’t realize what a big part of Jack’s life the other characters really were. Some POV from them would have cleared that up.
Overall, it is one of the better M/M books I have read. The pacing was steady and gave readers a chance to get to know Jack and see him change and grow as the story progresses.