book reviews · m/m romance

Book Review: Kaje Harper’s “Tracefinder: Changes” (Tracefinder #2) (2016)

30047519There’s nothing as satisfying as being able to read the sequel of an amazing book as soon as you’ve finish the first! I tried to show some self-restraint and wait at least a day before I bought this book, but of course I didn’t succeed. I jumped straight into this sequel and read non-stop until it was done. No regrets!

Even though it’s Brian’s needs that form most of the action and plot of this book, I felt that Nick’s journey and development was given a lot of attention as well. His self-identity as a cop is slowly, torturously stripped away, and he has some very hard questions to ask himself about what he wants- what he needs- in life, and where his true priorities and desires lie. I think that the author has done a very good job at balancing these two very complicated characters, at such a complicated time of their lives. Both the development of them as individuals and the development of their relationship are treated with great skill and care.

What I found particularly nice was just how mutually-supportive their relationship becomes, with the striking power imbalances of the first book being slowly evened out. That’s hard to do when both members of the relationship have their own mental issues and their lives are going through such big changes. So it’s just really touching to see how they care for each other and give whatever they can. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story.

I did stifle a groan when the inevitable action of this story began properly, when Brian’s brother and sister re-appeared and the plot kicked into high gear. Is it so awful that I wanted dozens and dozens more chapters of Brian and Nick being domestic and happy at home, playing with dog, cooking, growing, living? Well, okay, that’s not all they were doing; but I just enjoyed that part of their lives so much, and I knew that it would all be over once Brian’s brother showed up. But of course it was inevitable, and completely necessary to Brian’s story- the need to confront his siblings, to re-define their childhood experiences and their present and future relationships- and had been building since well before this sequel, and indeed well before the first book in this series.

It was probably also inevitable that this confrontation would be explosive, violent, and charged with volatile emotions. The author certainly delivered well on that front. These three siblings have a very complicated history of secrets and manipulation, of hiding their true selves from each other. The author describes very well their feelings of betrayal and loss when those true selves come out.

As with the first book, the story goes on for several more chapters after the obvious, external plot is complete. I loved it- thank you, Kaje Harper! I adore seeing the fallout and the consequences of these big plots, and so few authors spend time on them. I think authors and readers have been led to expect that books will end after the physical action does- often so abruptly- and for that reason, it can be difficult for authors to instead privilege the “emotional” action as the true ending (if we’re lucky, we get a “several months later” epilogue and a snap-shot of their happily-ever-after lives). If we follow the traditional “rules” of writing, then the story would end with a quick “I love you, let’s spend the rest of our lives together”, and that would be it. That’s all the time that the traditional story structure, with its rises and falls of action, and its need to end with a strong climax instead of a soft anti-climax, would allow for. Thank god Harper ignores those rules with this book.

There’s easily enough story here for another sequel. There’s a baby on the way, after all, and a brother off by himself doing god-knows-what. And what has happened to Brian’s ability, after everything he’s been through? Will he still be able to use it, will he still want to use it? How will Nick build a new life for himself, now that he’s thoroughly destroyed his life as a cop? Yes, I think we need another sequel…or ten. And a lot more of the dog.

{Summary from Amazon.com:}
Brian can Find a lost child or a wanted criminal, but when his secret gets out, even Nick’s skills and connections may not be enough to keep them safe.

Brian Kerr is now free of his dangerous boss and his domineering brother. He’s eager to start using his psychic Finding talent to help people, if he can figure out how to do that safely. His dyslexia, and his tendency to act simpleminded under stress, make building his new life a daunting challenge. And while his not-quite-boyfriend, Nick, is willing to support him, in bed and out of it, Brian doesn’t want to lean on Nick. If their relationship is going anywhere, he has to be a full partner and handle his own problems.

Nick Rugo’s walking a tightrope instead of settling into the ordinary cop’s life he’d hoped for. He’s hiding too many things from too many people. He has told professional and unprofessional lies that will come back to haunt him. Now, with Brian determined to start Finding again, he’s not sure he can protect the man he cares for. If all that wasn’t enough to make him start punching walls, he also has a suspicion that Brian’s brother Damon and sister Lori may be out there, lurking, ready to complicate their lives.

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