Courage – Jesse J. Thoma

4.5⭐️ – You can always count on Jesse J. Thoma to write solid but tender stories.

Sometimes on TV shows, the exposure scene happens in the present then viewers are taken back two hours, two days, two months earlier. That’s how Courage begins, straight into action and drama, then we’re dragged back eighteen months to the events that led to this moment. As a consequence, while we’re witness to how the relationship between Natasha and Tommy begins, on the professional as well as on the personal sides, while we see them learn to work together, get to know each other, and, yes, fall in love, there’s this sword of Damocles hanging above them. And that’s not even counting how difficult things get when Natasha’s family’s interests clash with her job.

Tomasina “Tommy” Finch is an excellent cop, always trying to be even better. Still, when she’s partnered with a social worker as part of what she sees as a PR stunt, she isn’t happy. She doesn’t need anyone to tell her how to do her job since she already does it well. Natasha Parsons is passionate about her job and willing to stand up to anyone who will get in the way and prevent her from helping those who need her. Jail isn’t always the right answer to a crime and Natasha’s job is to assess tricky situations when a perpetrator (and society) would benefit more from treatment or other kinds of help than jail time. She also has a gift to diffuse explosive circumstances and pretty soon, Tommy’s reluctance turns to respect, and more.

Neither Natasha nor Tommy are rule-breakers and dating your partner is a huge no-no. Such a powerful attraction can only be resisted for so long and that leads to stolen kisses, each more feverish than the last, lingering fingers – Natasha can’t seem to keep her hands off Tommy, especially off her cheeks, even before anything happens between them, and all that forbidden relationships should be.

Thoma writes very endearing characters, extraordinary people in normal lives. I think I’m in love with Natasha. I’m pretty sure I am, actually, and it only took a couple of chapters. She’s perfectly secure in who she is, despite the way she’s been treated by her obscenely rich parents and it only goes to show how strong she really is. She’s brilliant, driven and the kind of smartass I love in lesfic. Tommy is more basic but she’s a sweetheart and never stood a chance against Natasha’s charisma.

Another very strong point of this book is the secondary cast. From Tommy and Natasha’s colleagues to Natasha’s best friend and, above all, Tommy’s family, they’re all excellent characters. I wouldn’t say no to a story with Harry, Tommy’s older sister, as a main character.

A slow burn romance with plenty of sparks and chemistry, Courage is set in the same universe as Serenity (I’m hoping a third book is on its way, we could all do with some wisdom) and while it can probably be read as a standalone, you’ll appreciate one of the story arcs better if you have read Serenity first and have more background.

5-stars

Courage @ Bold Strokes Books

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