Title: Variable Onset
Author: Layla Reyne
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: MM Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Tropes: Fake Marriage, Forced Proximity, Opposites Attract, Undercover LEOs, Single Dad, Hot for Teacher
A mystery whodunit with a romantic will-they-or-won’t-they.
To catch a killer, a special agent and his former student will need to get close—to their target, and each other.
When the serial killer known as Dr. Fear seemingly reemerges after a cooling-off period, Special Agent Lincoln Monroe wants on the case. He knows his research on the calculating criminal, who targets couples and uses their worst fears to kill them, could prove invaluable. But nothing can prepare Lincoln for the agent waiting for him in Apex, Virginia: a brash and cocky former student. Carter Warren is everything Lincoln is not, and somehow everything he wants. And they’ll be going undercover. As newlyweds.
For Carter, seeing Lincoln again—and flustered to boot—pokes his raging bear of a crush something fierce. He thinks posing as lovers will provide the perfect bait for Dr. Fear. But pretending to be married forces them to confront fears of their own…like giving in to the very real chemistry between them.
With evidence pointing to the possibility of a copycat killer, Lincoln and Carter will have to race to separate truth from fiction. But when another couple goes missing, finding the killer will test every ounce of their training, skills and the strength of their bond like never before.
Lincoln bent to pick his socks up off the floor, and Carter admired his firm, round ass in well-worn jeans. He’d never seen Lincoln this dressed down before. Not that the professor wasn’t handsome in slacks, a button-down, and argyle, but jeans, a tee, and said argyle was a look Carter could get behind.
That gray tee and pink-and-purple argyle rucked up around his torso, those jeans stretched around lean, muscular thighs, that perfect ass in the air, pale skin flushed for the kisses Carter would like to…
A sharp clap broke through the fantasy unspooling in Carter’s head. Lincoln was on his way back from the mudroom off the kitchen, exasperation painting his face, as if he could see inside Carter’s head. “Explain this,” he said, using his ring finger to gesture between them. “Beverley said I was going undercover as the new librarian at Apex U and that my partner on this case would be teaching a survival course to Apex PD. He said nothing about living together or pretending to be married.”
“Because I asked him not to,” Carter replied. Lincoln opened his mouth, no doubt to protest, but Carter spoke again first. “It wasn’t only Agent—Senator—Kirk who asked for you on this case. I asked for you too. You are the Bureau’s resident expert on Dr. Fear. But it doesn’t take an expert to know who Dr. Fear targets.”
Carter nodded and waited for the implication to register.
It took a few seconds, but then Lincoln paled and braced a hand on the end of the island. “You want us to be bait?” he squawked.
Carter dipped his chin to hide his grin. When he was sure his face was in order again, he lifted it and said, “If they’re active again, or even if this is a copycat, who better to lead the killer to than to two trained agents instead of to more innocents?”
Layla Reyne is the author of Dine With Me, and the Fog City, Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance.