Badge of Loyalty, by Jude Tresswell
Publisher: Rowanvale Books Limited
Release Date: February 28, 2018
Mike Angells is an openly gay CID inspector based in North East England. There are three men in his life: Raith Balan, Phil Roberts and Ross Whitburn. Mike is particularly close to Ross.
Following a routine but significant investigation into thefts of farm machinery, Mike investigates the suspicious death of a footballer. The suspect’s father threatens to expose a crime Ross committed many years earlier, unless Mike withholds evidence that would incriminate his son. Mike must choose which badge he is loyal to–the one he was given when he joined the Force or the tattoo he wears that symbolises polyamory. His decision leads to a brutal conclusion when two men who bear grudges, an ex-con and Balan’s ex-lover, combine to exact revenge.
Interspersed with Mike’s story are comments made by Raith, Phil and Ross about Mike, each other, and the nature of their polyamorous relationship. It works for them, but, as Phil explains, they work at it.
Neither full-on erotica nor hard-boiled crime, and with many light moments, this is a story about love, hatred, and the price which is paid for loyalty.
Trigger warnings for suicide of side character, mentions of child abuse and mention of sex with a minor.
This book was a bit of an enigma. It’s not a romance, although love is a motivating factor for the protagonists. It’s not really a police procedural, although much of it takes place in a police department. It’s not exactly light-hearted, although the dark themes don’t override the more amusing moments. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was a bit different than a lot of the books I’ve read lately – and that’s a good thing.
Mike Angells is a respected CID Inspector in Northern England. He lives with his partner, Ross, but is also involved with Phil and Raith. Although Ross is only monogamous to Mike, he considers Mike’s lovers to be family. And while this may seem unconventional to outsiders, the men are committed to each other and to the success of their relationship. Communication and honesty are key.
When a dark secret from the past threatens both their relationship and Mike’s career, Mike has to decide where his loyalties lie – with Ross or with a job that he loves. But his decision will have a domino effect that threatens to topple everything he holds dear.
This isn’t the kind of book you breeze through in an afternoon. There are POV changes and flashbacks that help move the story along and often give you clues as to what might be coming next. Not that the story is hard to follow, it just helps to pay attention to the motivations of each character – because everyone has a motivation.
Admittedly, I haven’t read a whole lot of books featuring polyam relationships, and certainly not one where one of the characters is only involved with one other person. But I liked how it worked for all of them. Just a heads up though, one of the characters does cheat (does not obtain the consent of the others in the relationship) so if that’s a dealbreaker it might be best to pass.
It feels weird to recommend a book that probably won’t appeal to everyone, but I definitely feel it’s worth reading if you need to break out of a book slump, or if you’re just looking for something different. It does end in a way that might feel a bit jarring but not in a cliff-hanger sense. FWIW there is a second book in the works so maybe keep that in mind as you read.
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Copy received from NetGalley