Payback by Charlotte MillsPayback by Charlotte Mills is a crime novel featuring a workplace romance and an opposites attract pairing.

Detective Constable Kate Wolfe is on a 6-month loan from London. Nothing about the “backwater” posting in Warner, England appeals to DC Wolfe. Well, nothing other than Detective Chief Inspector Helen Taylor. DCI Taylor left a high-profile posting in Manchester to come to Warner, and the job had been a quiet one until DC Wolfe arrives. Arson, murder, a missing person’s case – the two women have their hands full chasing down clues while also navigating their growing attraction to each other.

The Characters

Both characters are wonderfully three-dimensional and engaging. Helen loves to give her staff nicknames, and she quickly christens Kate as “Virginia” (as in Woolfe). This is just one example of Helen’s playful sense of humor. We see that Helen truly makes an effort to connect with the citizens of Warner, even those who others tend to overlook. However, dedication to her job has left her with a hole in her personal life. Kate is a talented yet impulsive detective. One of my favorite descriptions from the book is of Kate’s “aggressive doorbell ringing.” What a great shorthand for her approach to life! The attraction for each character is understandable and undeniable.

The Writing Style

This book kept me engaged from beginning to end. It stands toe-to-toe with mainstream crime novels in terms of plot and pacing. Kate and Helen’s approach to solving the crimes is logical, and the plot does not rely on any unbelievable clues for the resolution. Just when I thought the book was almost over, the best twist was still to come! Oh, and there are plenty of steamy scenes that won’t disappoint the romance fans out there.

The Pros

Kate and Helen have excellent chemistry. My wife often says I won her heart by teasing her, and I enjoyed how the banter between the two leads in this novel was playful but never devolved into cloying sweetness.

The Cons

I noticed a couple of typographical errors which did not significantly detract from my reading experience. The power imbalance between the two characters could have been an issue, but I felt the author did a good job of acknowledging it without letting it detract from the story’s flow.

The Conclusion

Readers of both crime fiction and lesbian romance will enjoy this book. It is engrossing, well-written, and sexy! By way of providing supporting evidence, I should mention Kate’s nickname for Helen. It’s “Guv” as in “Governor.” Okay, I’m going to go fan myself now.

Excerpt from Payback by Charlotte Mills

A sparkle danced in Helen’s eyes. It was impossible not to be engulfed by it. She was close enough to touch her. If she had reached out a hand, she could have felt her firm thigh before it disappeared under her desk.

Standing abruptly, Helen had a slight height advantage over her even as she leaned on Helen’s desk. She wondered whether Helen would have answered the challenge in her eyes if the cup hadn’t occupied her hands. Either way, the arrival of another officer in the outer office prevented any further thought on the subject.

Helen raised an eyebrow. “Let’s see this work of CCTV art, then, shall we? Oh, and by the way, Forensics says it looks like the security footage from the Jarvis house has been wiped from the server.”

Kate led the way to her desk in the open-plan office, taking her seat she grasped the mouse clicking on the image she’d uploaded earlier. “Shit!” She met Helen’s gaze. “Do they know if it was done from the house or remotely?”

“They’re still working on it, apparently.” Helen frowned as she looked down at her. “I didn’t realise you were such a tech geek.”

She returned her attention to the screen. “Ah, well, that’ll be my hidden depths, Guv.”

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9783963241253
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Charlotte Mills Online

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