I finished The Brothers Grime: Grime and Punishment by Z. A. Maxfield. I’ve been on a bit of a romance kick for the last couple of days, so I’ve been tearing through some new titles. As you may remember from my last review, this doesn’t always turn out well. I fully believe that all genre literature can be great. It doesn’t just have to be “good enough for urban fantasy” or “good enough for romance.” With a little work, these can be excellent.
While Grime and Punishment doesn’t knock it out of the park, it makes a solid play for respectability. Jack Mastersen is a former firefighter (I know, who doesn’t love a firefighter?) who was injured in a massive fire. He know owns and operates his own crime scene cleanup company. Think like a more gay Sunshine Cleaning. Anywho, the novel centers around a suicide of Jack’s former high school lover, Nick. When he gets to the house, he is confronted with Ryan, Nick’s lookalike cousin. Though both Jack and Ryan have written off Nick for different reasons, they click over a mutual desire for closure (and each other).
I’ll be the first to admit: Nabokov it’s not. But the book is really fun and it moves quickly. Maxfield throws in enough details about crime scene cleanup that the environment seems real without being shoehorned for effect. The characters act in a believable enough fashion. Sure, no real relationship is probably going to move as fast as the one in this book, but its a romance novel, and that sort of thing is de rigueur. Jack and Ryan are both sweet, and the reader rightfully roots for them.
The only place where Grime and Punishment really falls down is on the revelation of Jack’s big secret to Ryan. Because Jack won’t tell, his cousin and later his former casual fling show up and spill the beans. The ramp up in these scenes is incredibly quick (I’m talking like two Kindle pages). I’m not saying these scenes have to marinate like Ivy Compton-Burnett is writing them, but that’s a little fast to go from nothing to get the hell out of my house. Or nothing to full disclosure. This scene is a mini-climax of the book, and it acts as one of the main points on which the latter part of the story turns. But it could have been handled more deftly.
For people who don’t read a lot of romance, but like the occasional catharsis, I think this book can give it to you. It’s a little steamy, but tame enough to take it home to your I-Didn’t-Read-50-Shades-Okay-I-Totally-Did mama. What a literary allusion heavy review…don’t know what’s gotten into me.
JMF Rating: 7/10
‘Til next time,
Note: (I never write these the same way…I really, should just copy/paste) I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for reviewing it.