Three authors deliver three very good connected stories in "Bayou Blood Brothers," the tales of three childhood friends threatened by someone from their past. Readers looking for steamy suspense will find it here, though some may wish the authors had written a trilogy of three separate books so they could have had more of these stories.
Rebecca York begins the set with "Tyler." An undercover federal agent is surprised when his latest case brings him into the life of the sister of his boyhood friend. Tyler feels he let her brother down. When killers chase them into the bayou, can he do right by her? York doesn't have much room to tell her story, since she has to provide the prologue that sets up the trilogy and the events that lead into the next two tales. Eighty pages isn't much to tell a whole story. As a result, there isn't much to "Tyler," a straightforward couple-on-the-run tale with few surprises but good suspense and a high level of sensuality. There aren't many twists and some may have trouble believing these two could fall in love in such a short period of time. Good atmosphere and page-turning suspense do compensate. Fans of constant action and steamy love scenes will find them here. Four Stars.
Surprisingly, the best story in the set doesn't come from an Intrigue author but from Metsy Hingle. In "Nick," a man returns to his hometown for his brother's wedding to the only woman he's ever loved. When his brother is murdered, Nick becomes the prime suspect. Can he find the truth and reclaim the only woman for him? Hingle's story is the best because she manages to combine all the elements of a full-length Intrigue into her eighty pages. Both characters have interesting and involved histories that make them seem more three-dimensional. Hingle keeps her characters in constant danger, but she also spaces her story over several days. It is fast-paced but doesn't feel rushed. This is the only story where I really felt like the characters had a chance to talk about their relationship. By the end I was convinced they would last as a couple. A good mystery, dangerous situations and enjoyable antagonists make this a joy to read. It's not easy to pull off in eighty pages (some writers can't do it in 250). Hingle does it with ease. Five stars.
Joanna Wayne finishes the set with "Jules." A murder brings Jules close to the truth of the man out to get him and his friends. It also reunites him with his first love. Can Jules protect her when her involvement with him puts her in danger? Wayne's story is a solid follow-up to the second one. It has some good character development and twists along the way. The climax is somewhat weak. The dangerous situation the characters find themselves in is so contrived I couldn't understand how this could be happening to intelligent people. Wayne does offer some chilling scenes and confrontations with a truly evil villain to keep readers turning the pages and the romance is solid. Four Stars.
The Louisiana bayou country is a setting that has mostly been forgotten in Intrigues (out of the last 100 Intrigues, only one full novel and one novella were set in Louisiana, both in New Orleans). It's a shame these stories couldn't have been offered as three separate books to allow readers to spend more time in this setting and the authors more time to build their stories. The idea was strong enough to support a trilogy. For what it is though, readers looking for fast reads will enjoy "Bayou Blood Brothers," so much they'll probably wish there was more of it.