Friday, March 10, 2023

Lisa Henry - Two Man Station

Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.
Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.
Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.
In a remote two man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.

Comment: After seeing some positive reviews on this book, I got interested enough to want to try it. Finally, I was able to start the book and it turned out to be very addictive...

In this book we meet police officer Giovanni "Gio" Valeri, who has always wanted to be a cop and who has lived his entire life in a big city, used to the noise, the people, the demanding speed in which many things are done. However, one day he makes a decision at work and tries to do the right thing, but it backfires and he sent to Richmond, a small town which most officers would not even dream of wanting. Gio plans on staying low, do his job, endure his "punishment" and after two years he hopes he can go back, and ask a transference to another city.
Jason Quinn is the sargent in Richmond, a police station which only needs two men, and he knows Gio was sent there for some kind of mistake, believing him to be a traitor to his fellow police officers. However, as he gets to know Gio and dealing with him in such a small town, he realizes there's more to his story. The demands of the job aren't much but Jason also has a lot to worry about, namely his 10 year old son and now, apparent,y the fact he finds Gio quite attractive...
Will these two be able to become friends after all, or even more than that?

This was a very addictive story to read because the writing made it so, but more importantly because the story line captivated me and I wanted to know what had Gio done to force him to be sent away and I wanted to see the (I hoped) slow burn journey from simple acquaintance to being in love between the two protagonists.

The idea of this novel is not very original but I liked how it seemed so very likely, perhaps because I have this idea the majority of people in Australia might be more understanding and receptive to the idea of bisexuality and homosexuality, which made me believe that if two cops in a small town would have a romantic relationship, most people there would not mind it. I don't know Australian culture that well to say this, I only know what is conveyed in some TV shows (which always try to show how acceptance is made look like it's no big deal), but somehow the mix between the romance and the location where the novel is set made me imagine everything a certain way.

The setting was very interesting, besides the ideas I've thought of because of my limited notion about the Australian way of life, it was also very nice to imagine the situations they faced in regards to the descriptions... I also checked the map of the area, it felt as if Richmond would be even more isolated but I suppose that's the point, by comparing to big city areas.

Gio and Jason felt like well fleshed characters, I could imagine in my head how their personalities were and how they might have behaved and moved just by how they were described. I think the author did a good job regarding them as individuals. Jason seems like a good guy, he is raising his son since the death of his wife, and his worries feel very mundane in a way, such as how to get a babysitter he can trust, without finally exhausting the goodwill of Sandra, the receptionist at the police station. Of course this is exploited more in depth as the story moves along and I liked how things were made to seem serious and important to Jason, and not just an excuse for his son's presence.

Gio is, obviously, more fascinating because he is a bit more mysterious as well and I wanted to keep reading to learn why he felt he was being punished. The author gives us clues/information very slowly to make it feel as if this is dramatic- which it is - but not so overwhelming that Gio would be a walking despaired guy. I liked this, for it made it even better when Gio slowly started to trust Jason and and we finally have his side of things on why he is in this situation, it's hard not to think he was clearly prejudiced and not given the chance to explain his actions.

The romance is quiet, even when they give in to the attraction, everything is slow, one step at a time, a lot of respect between them and even though both make assumptions and have one or two scenes where they go over the top in their reactions without thinking before they speak. This added drama and I imagined it would create the possibility of some kind of "make up" intimacy but they were, once more, respectful. The way the story ends is not a detailed and amazing HEA but it's more a HFN with a lot of hints and even an epilogue that their relationship might be even more solid with time.

I suppose some of the misunderstandings between them felt like taking too long, but at the same time, if things had been rushed I probably would like it even less.
There's a sequel, but not with familiar characters - at least the protagonists aren't -  which I will read too some day, since the vibe and writing in this book felt so appealing.
Grade: 8/10

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