I'm not new to read a cop themed novel, and even if it's not my preferred genre; some of them are very good. But there is a thing that usually let me a bit cold, when the cops are self-righteous perfect hero, maybe with a baggage of bad experiences in the past, but always so damned perfect. Truth be told, sometime, they are so perfect that they are also boring, sincerely I'm not for the big bang-come here baby type of men. In Personal Demons, James Buchanan managed to avoid all of above, without making the heroes losers.
Special Agent Chase Nozick lost his partner (work partner, not private partner) during the same mission in which he was badly injured. Now some years later, he has the chance to capture the man who did it, and so it's quite understandable that he is eager to accomplish the task, but I think that, in any case, Chase faces the new job with big professionalism, yes, true, he has some personal reasons, but they are not distracting him from doing the job by the book. Chase seems to always behave by the book... almost. He is right there on the edge, he drinks a lot, but not enough to dim his judgement, he let his gut drive him, but not enough to take the wrong path, he is gay, but not "enough" for him to be kicked out of the FBI.
Chase has not trouble with his homosexuality, he knows what he wants, but he also knows that he can't be an openly gay Special Agent, and so he simply doesn't mix the two things: when he is on the job, he is asexual, and when he is out of the job, he prefers to hook up with strangers, so no strings attached to worry about.
Problem is that on the new job he is partnered with Enrique, a LAPD cop with a lot of connection with the Cuban society, among where their target is hiding. Enrique is the perfect man for the job, but he is also the perfect man for Chase: gay and like Chase, not flaunting it to avoid to be kicked out of the Police Department, Enrique is not against the idea to mix work with pleasure, at least for the time of their mission. Chase is not offering more, and Enrique is not asking. I like this attitude since no one of them is disillusioned or hurt. And even when the simple partners with benefits relationship moves to something more, the attitude is more or less the same: Enrique makes clear that he is interested in seeing where their relationship will go after, but it's up to Chase to take a chance. Enrique is not hiding his feelings, and above all is not hiding that they are "feelings" and not simple desire, but he doesn't play the guilty card: he asks, he suggests, but he doesn't force Chase to take a decision. I can feel that Enrique is really involved, and I think that he makes it clear also to Chase, but Enrique's way to face the relationship is new to me, no pressure, no forceful behaviour, no attitude like "I love you so you owe me something". The way to face it is dry but not cold.
On the other side there is Chase, who pretends that he is not interested in a serious relationship, but who is also the first to behave as they were in one, and even if the word "love" is not speak between them, I think that Chase is the first to fall for Enrique.
As I said the novel is a classical cops themed one, but the love relationship always remain in centre stage, it is never overwhelmed by the mission; it's the mission that helps Chase and Enrique to be near and near, which helps them to understand that they are perfect for each other, and so in the end, this is more a romance than a thriller novel.
There are some points that I'd like to see developed, but probably, if the author will decide to take in hand again these two heroes, it can be done in another book: Enrique is not a lone-wolf; he has a family, a family that is quite near and supporting, so I'd be interested how they deal with Chase. Then there was a hint on Enrique's former partner, but it was not developed: again, it seemed an interesting story.