The Brothers Grime: Jack - Z.A. Maxfield Jack Masterson is one of the owners of Brothers Grime, a crime scene cleaning company. A former firefighter who suffered a career ending injury on the job, he sees this as his way to continue helping people through a traumatic time. Jack bears the scars of that injury, but is also deeply scarred by a brutal betrayal by his former best friend and first love Nick 15 years earlier. He has never gotten over Nick and has never revealed Nick’s secrets. The closest he has been with anyone since is with Dave Huntley, another high school friend and closeted cop, who is seemingly happy to remain friends with benefits.

When Jack gets a call from Dave telling him that Nick has committed suicide, old feelings that have never been dealt with rise to the surface. Jack meets Nick’s cousin Ryan, who looks like Nick, but that’s where the similarities end. Jack and Ryan bond during the cleanup of the scene, but those closest to Jack, who saw him through Nick’s betrayal, are uneasy about allowing Jack let the relationship go any further. Even Jack has to wonder if he is just using Ryan as a replacement for Nick and must confront the person he has become and who he actually wants to be.

This entire story takes place over the course of a few days. While the attraction between the two men is instant, this is not a case of insta-love. Both men have reasons to not be involved, and when Jack’s overly aggressive cousin Gabe and best friend Dave get involved, he realizes how deep Nick’s actions affected not only him, but those who love him.

Z.A. Maxfield packs a lot into this short book, with complex secondary characters (especially Dave) and a lot of issues that could have made for an angst heavy book. I particularly enjoyed Jack and Ryan’s “first date” which was filled with humor and a glimpse of what the two men could have together once they put aside their grief and Jack accepts that he can be happy in a relationship again. While I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I think the emotional impact it could have had would have been stronger had there been a little more time to explore Ryan and Jack’s issues. Since this is only the first in the series, I hope that there is more follow-up for the two.

*A copy of this book was provided by Loose ID via NetGalley*