Bad Dogs and Drag Queens, by Julie Lynn Hayes
Series: Rose & Thorne, Book 1
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 25, 2016
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Vinnie Delarosa and Ethan Thorne are partners—on and off the clock. Federal undercover detectives, they’re part of a covert task force designed to promote goodwill between the feds and local authorities. They lend an unobtrusive helping hand wherever it’s needed. No credit required.
Vinnie and Ethan work primarily in the Southeast region of the United States and live together in Richmond, Virginia. A mugger problem brings them to Roanoke, where Vinnie is thrown out as bait to catch the man who’s been snatching purses in a city park, but they end up with more than they bargained for. Why is Vinnie always the one who has to wear the dress? Ethan says it’s because Vinnie looks much prettier in a skirt. How can he argue with that?
Expecting to return to Richmond afterward, Vinnie and Ethan find themselves assigned a new case instead. They are to go undercover at The Stroll, one of the biggest gay nightclubs in Roanoke. Someone is terrorizing both the customers and the performers. Could they be dealing with a hate crime? Someone has to protect the drag queens of Roanoke, so it’s Vinnie and Ethan to the rescue!
Imagine if your favourite series started at the second book. Or perhaps even Chapter 22 of the first one. Because that’s how it felt when I read the first chapter.
From the start, I was suddenly plunked down in the middle of a undercover police operation with two federal agents who have been together (both on and off the clock) for five years, one of whom is wearing a skirt and heels for apparently the umpteenth time while the other whispers, supposedly familiar sweet nothings through the ear piece of his partner.
And that’s our first introduction to our two protagonists, Vinnie Delarosa (the one with the skirt) and Ethan Thorne (the one with the sweet talk).
Generally speaking, books featuring established couples usually provide some sort of background information on how the couple met, either through a conversation between MC’s or some sort of flashback chapter, but here we get nothing. No explanation on how they became partners. No explanation on how they became lovers. No explanation on how Vinnie is so familiar with wearing dresses or being in drag. Nothing.
Here’s what we do learn: Vinnie and Ethan are part of a secret task force that has been established to help local police departments with any issues they are unable to attend to, which seems a bit odd to me but let’s suspend reality for a moment and pretend that a neighbourhood purse snatcher would be exactly the type of thing the feds would throw their assistance behind. When that investigation is completed, they not only find themselves as foster parents to a purse-stealing dog, they are assigned as the new undercover operatives at a local club called The Stroll. Sent to investigate a series of escalating assaults against performers and vandalism to the property, Vinnie and Ethan are ‘hired’ as talent and bartender respectively.
(I’m going to rant a little now)
Now, I admit that I don’t know too much about drag queens other than they are generally fabulous and extremely talented performers. But I’m pretty sure that the average man couldn’t possibly shop for a dress and all the accoutrements that a drag queen requires, come up with even a competent routine and put on a show in front of a crowded nightclub within a couple of days. I’m quite certain the average woman couldn’t do it either. But Vinnie? Well, Vinnie must be special because he CAN do that and he DOES do that and if I even had a little bit of background on how that could be remotely possible, I *might* have been convinced. As it stands, the book makes it seem like any guy who goes undercover in a dress can become a drag queen, capable of putting on a wonderful show. This seems incredibly insulting to all the hard-working performers out there who entertain crowds of people every day and who practice, practice, practice to be the best they can be.
(okay, I’m good now)
This could have been a decent, light-hearted little book but there were too many things left unanswered and unexplained for me to overlook. I hated not knowing more about our MC’s and how their romance began (and yes, how Vinnie knew exactly how to perform in drag). There were little mentions of things throughout the book, but nothing detailed or fully explained. A romance novel should have some sort of meet cute between the MC’s or a defining relationship moment, even if it happened in the past. I don’t mind the use of flashbacks if it’s going to help me understand the MC’s and their motivations but excluding “that” moment altogether is unacceptable in a romance novel, IMO.
I would love to read more romance novels featuring drag queens. There aren’t enough really good stories out there, but I’m open to recommendations. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one in turn.
Julie Lynn Hayes was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she’d never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another’s arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and her cat, Ramesses, loves books and movies and role playing on the Internet, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. By day, she’s an administrative assistant for a global elevator company, by night she writes and is also an editor for Wayward Ink Publishing and MuseitUp Publishing. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn’t mind. Marching to the beat of one’s own drummer is a good thing, after all.>
You can contact find Julie on her website (http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com) or on Twitter (@ShelleyRunyon).
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.