Hi there! I’m sharing a review for a newly released M/M contemporary romance from Layla Reyne. VARIABLE ONSET features an introverted FBI instructor and analyst, now on the case of the serial killer he’s studied for more than a decade, while also pairing off with the most frustrating academy student as his partner. While their chemistry might be explosive, their timing is not helpful. Not with a clock on the
When the serial killer known as Dr. Fear seemingly reemerges after a cooling-off period, Special Agent Lincoln Monroe wants on the case. He knows his research on the calculating criminal, who targets couples and uses their worst fears to kill them, could prove invaluable. But nothing can prepare Lincoln for the agent waiting for him in Apex, Virginia: a brash and cocky former student. Carter Warren is everything Lincoln is not, and somehow everything he wants. And they’ll be going undercover. As newlyweds.
For Carter, seeing Lincoln again—and flustered to boot—pokes his raging bear of a crush something fierce. He thinks posing as lovers will provide the perfect bait for Dr. Fear. But pretending to be married forces them to confront fears of their own…like giving in to the very real chemistry between them.
With evidence pointing to the possibility of a copycat killer, Lincoln and Carter will have to race to separate truth from fiction. But when another couple goes missing, finding the killer will test every ounce of their training, skills and the strength of their bond like never before.
FBI Academy forensic genealogy professor and Agent Lincoln Monroe is an out bisexual caregiver for his teen daughter. He has a great relationship with his ex-wife, a globe-trotting state department employee and his sister who babysits his daughter if he goes on assignment. Lincoln’s thesis work was profiling Dr. Fear, a serial killer that captured random couples and subjected them to their worst fears for 40 hours, or until they died–which they all had. He’s been active for 25 years, and never caught, but now it seems a copy cat has kidnapped a senator’s daughter and partner, and Lincoln is pressed into active duty. The senator, a former agent, was Lincoln’s mentor and the former lead investigator of the Dr. Fear crimes.
Lincoln is an introvert and suffers intense stage fright and fear of fire. He’s awkward and goofy, and not ready to be paired with a former Academy student who pushed all his buttons in class eight years ago, Special Agent Carter Warren. Carter was in the western Virginia mountains looking up old wrecks to find his missing birth parents when he found a connection to the Dr. Fear victims. He’s arranged a cover story for himself and Lincoln in winter wonderland Apex, Virginia, where they will have unimpeded access to police and genealogical records to help find not only the copy cat, but also the true Dr. Fear. But, uh, they are posing as husbands, much to Lincoln’s discomfort.
Carter has had a crush on his former professor since that very first class, and he’s not beyond having some liberties, if time allows. Not that it really does, with the clock ticking on the missing couple. Their endeavors are hampered by lack of familiarity with the small town folks, oh, and being attacked by crazies and the police department getting firebombed. While one case gets wrapped, two more pop up and the spotlight seems to shine on either the former, or current, police chief–who happen to be lifelong Apex residents…and brothers. When local residents are kidnapped, it’s up to some amazing detective work, involving the bells and whistles of forensic science and good ol’ library research, to bring this killer to justice.
This is a fantastic romantic suspense, with two MCs that have both tremendous respect and attraction for the other. Lincoln and Carter are great guys, who make the best of the tension, but never let their professionalism slide. It’s a total slow burn on the romance, while these men devote themselves to overcoming all the obstacles to find the killers at-large. There were moments of levity, especially regarding Lincoln’s self-deprecating humor and Carter’s mooning over his crush. And those also brought some nice tender moments, as these men bonded over their deep-seated insecurities. It’s a standalone romance, but I’d read another book with these two if it came available.
About the Author:
Layla Reyne is the author of the Fog City, Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!