Line of Duty by VK Powell is a romantic story about finding what you want the most in the person you least expect to.
ER Doctor Dylan Carlyle is certain that getting involved with Finley Masters would be a mistake. Finley is infamous for her unabashed, no-strings liaisons with nurses. Beyond that, Dylan comes from a family of police officers and she refuses to date one. She’s already lost her father and grandfather because of the badge. She can’t and won’t set herself up to lose others. So, it doesn’t matter how attractive Finley is or how disarming Dylan finds her when they talk. That they can’t keep their eyes off one another isn’t important. The way sparks fly between them is irrelevant. She has her rules; she just wishes her friends and family would stop encouraging her to break them. They worry that she’s shut herself off from living, but even if she has, Finley would be the worst mistake she could make.
Finley Masters has seen up close the devastation that love can cause. She’s cultivated a playgirl persona to manage the stress of being a police officer and protect herself from intimacy. She avoids relationships, preferring to keep her sexual adventures casual. Dr. Carlyle’s resistance to her flirting intrigues her from the first. But Dylan’s older sister is a police captain and Finley’s boss. With the entire Carlyle family practically being police royalty, pursuing Dylan would be career suicide. Yet her common sense disappears when they are in close proximity. She finds herself drawn to Dylan, longing to get to know the woman behind the professional façade.
When an active shooter event injures Finley’s best friend, both women’s fears and vulnerabilities are exposed. Dylan, tired of being told to let herself live a little, allows herself one magical night with Finley. They both agree it’s only a fling. No matter how connected they feel, that’s all it can be. Anything else would be disaster, wouldn’t it?
I think most people have a favorite when it comes to a romantic pairing. One of the characters is usually easier to associate with than the other. It’s like being asked which Star Trek captain is the best (the answer is Picard). You may like all of them, but there’s the one whose journey you are slightly more invested in (still Picard).
This is not true of Dylan and Finley. I truly loved each of them. They were both complex, flawed and heroic. Finley has never really known what it’s like to have a family. Dylan is used to her family surrounding and occasionally suffocating her. Finley is trying to come to terms with the pain surrounding her father’s death. Dylan too, for very different reasons, hasn’t made peace with her own losses. They both have a specific kind of loneliness. They are fulfilled but incomplete.
At the risk of dragging out an overly sentimental metaphor, a puzzle missing a piece can be beautiful, but the hole is still there. I was rooting for Dylan and Finley. It’s reassuring to see two people discover that sometimes what fits isn’t what you could have ever predicted.
The Writing Style
As I write this, I find myself wanting to reread the book, because the path each character takes is unique. The series of moments where their beliefs are tested and transformed are both big and small. I loved the pacing and I enjoyed that nothing ever felt like filler.
The sex scenes are also worth a mention. Before our two heroines share a bed and during, there is a teasing quality that makes the scenes electric. Balancing heat and intense connection can be challenging, and here it is done perfectly.
There are some wonderful touches of realism to the story. The need to quickly make impossible, life-and-death decisions as a doctor is explored.
Finley’s dedication to her job and to her fellow officers rings with absolute truth. Have you read a book that felt so substantial that you suspected it had to be written from direct experience?
Immediately after I finished the book, I looked up the author’s bio in an attempt to verify my suspicions.
I will not reveal the results of my detective work. However, should you wish to call me “Sherlock” after this review, I will not object. It’s elementary, my dear reader.
While I loved both characters, some of Finley’s emotional changes were rushed. Given her history with her father, I prepared myself for a navigation of her deep-seated fears of surrendering to love. Instead that loose thread is sewn back into the narrative pretty quickly. Of the two of them, Finley winds up being much more at ease with the idea of being in a relationship. I would have liked a few more scenes where she battled some of her inner demons on that topic.
The active shooter scene may be triggering. It isn’t incredibly graphic, but it does convey the intensity of the fear faced in that situation. The event happens at a family carnival, so while only adults are wounded, children do see the violence, and this is touched on briefly in other parts of the book.
I like to think of reading a story as entrusting yourself to the pilot of an airplane. You’re in highly capable and talented hands here.
I am already looking up other VK Powell books to buy.
Excerpt from Line of Duty by VK Powell
“And Finley and I talked all the way to Durham. I mean really talked. She’s not like her reputation, or what I imagined. She’s deeper. Like you said, a soft underbelly. I saw her as more than a cop for the first time.” She clamped her hands over her mouth. “I sound like a bad romance novel. The more she talked, the more I liked her. By the time we got back to her place, I was so turned on I couldn’t imagine not having sex with her.” Heat flooded Dylan’s body and she reached for her iced tea. “What have I done?”
Holly smothered a grin. “And…”
“Oh, Holly, it was unbelievable. It wasn’t just sex. It was sex max. I’ve never been so…but none of that matters.” She waved her hand through the air as if she could erase everything they’d enjoyed and the lingering effects. “Besides, she was probably just getting on my good side so I’d let her know when the shooting suspect woke up. She got what she wanted this morning, and he apparently gave her a lead. Now she’s off to find his accomplice. She’ll boost her career, make detective, and I’ll be a footnote.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“It doesn’t matter what I believe. We agreed to one night. Now life returns to normal.”
Holly reached across the table and cupped Dylan’s hand. “But that’s not really you, is it?”
Dylan didn’t answer. Couldn’t answer honestly, so she said nothing.
“Talk to your family.”
“About having sex with a near-stranger? Are you mad?”
“About life with a cop. Norma, Gayle, Kerstin, and even Emory can provide perspective, soften this hard line you’ve drawn between you and Finley based on her profession.”
“There’s nothing to talk about, Holly.” Discussing the challenges of life with a police officer hadn’t occurred to her because she was never going to be in that position. But what if she was already heading in that direction? Finley’s easy dismissal as she rushed toward her next chase made that seem unlikely. They’d enjoyed each other in the bubble of a magical evening, but the bubble burst at daybreak.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 978-1635554861
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
VK Powell Online
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Note: I received a free review copy of Line of Duty by VK Powell. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site.