>> Friday, August 17, 2007
TITLE: What Hides Inside (for e-book: here)
AUTHOR: Ally Blue
PAGES: Print version will be 260 pages
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
SETTING: Contemporary Alabama
TYPE: Gay paranormal romance
SERIES: Second in the Bay City Paranormal Investigations series.
REASON FOR READING: After reading the first book, Oleander House, I wanted to know how Sam and Bo's relationship turned out.
Sam Raintree's life changed forever when he started his dream job with Bay City Paranormal Investigations. In one fateful week, he learned he was psychic, discovered he possessed the power to open interdimensional portals, and accidentally let loose a horror like he'd never imagined. He also began a relationship with his boss, Dr. Bo Broussard, a man who'd been in the closet all his life.THE PLOT: WHI takes place some three months after the events of OH, and Sam and Bo's relationship hasn't really progressed all that much. Oh, Bo has separated from his wife, but only now has gotten around to asking her for a divorce and he's nowhere near ready to come out and be with Sam out in the open. He's not even ready to go beyond hurried hand jobs when it comes to their sex life. As much as he loves Bo, Sam is beginning to get tired of skulking about like a teenager. He's an adult, and would like an adult relationship.
Now, three months later, the burden of secrets has become too heavy for a fragile relationship to bear. Bo isn't ready to come out, and Sam is tired of hiding. When Bo hires a new investigator, Dean Delapore, Sam is intrigued in spite of himself. Dean is bisexual, attractive, and very interested in Sam.
During the intense investigation of South Bay High School, from which three students have mysteriously disappeared, Sam and Dean draw closer together, while Bo pushes Sam away despite their feelings for one another. When the investigation erupts and Sam comes face-to-face with his worst nightmare, he has to decide whether to fight for Bo's love, or let him go.
Events come to a head when a new tech is hired. Dean is bisexual and not shy at all about being attracted to Sam. With it looking more and more unlikely that Bo will ever be really ready for a real relationship, should Sam just cut his losses? He'll have to make some very big decisions as the BCPI team begins a dangerous investigation at the local high school, scene to some recent mysterious disappearances which bring back uncomfortable memories of the events at Oleander House.
MY THOUGHTS: I'm really liking this series. The romance in this first entry is a bit heavier than in the first book, but it and the very nice paranormal plot still balance each other beautifully.
Sam and Bo's relationship continues to be very interesting and absorbing. These are very real issues that they are facing, and it works to have them juxtaposed with the more fantastic plot elements. I did feel like shaking Bo a couple of times, but couldn't help but understand what he was going through.
Something happens here which I was very surprised to find myself having absolutely no problem with. This probably qualifies as a spoiler, so stop reading if you'd prefer not to know, but I think it's something most readers might prefer to know beforehand.
Still here? What I'm talking about is Sam going ahead and having sex with Dean one night. Bo has broken up with him and he's really down about it, so he gives in and takes what Dean has been offering. Not technically an instance of infidelity, then, but I really prefer my protagonists to be only with each other. What made the difference here was that I felt this episode was a really positive experience for Sam. It basically helped him really understand his own feelings and cemented his determination to persevere with Bo. I know, I know, I can't believe I'm writing this, either. Having sex with someone else (and not in an open relationship context, either), positive for the relationship? But I bought it here, and I thought it worked for the story.
Plus, Dean was a lovely surprise. From the moment he was introduced and made his attraction to Sam crystal clear, I half-expected him to be some kind of agent of mischief, to actively try to break up Sam and Bo. Well, I was completely wrong, and this was something else that worked really well.
As for the paranormal plot, it was really good. Very creepy and original, and I still very much like the angle of having these events investigated in as scientific a manner as the BCPI people do.
Like with OH, we don't get full closure in either the romance or the plot. We do get some resolution, though, enough to make the book satisfying. The romance has taken a definite step forward and this particular "haunting" has been shut down. But Blue leaves the door wide open for the next book. Bo and Sam still have a way to go before they get to a real HEA, and while our characters know a lot more about these mysterious "portals" now, it's clear there will be more of them. And there's that intriguing suggestion of them intensifying, even.
Well, the next book, Twilight, is coming in October, so I guess I'll see.
MY GRADE: A nice, solid B.