I'm starting to find myself at a loss for words when it comes to this series. I loved the first two books 'Terms of Release' and 'Articles of Release' and I have to admit I wasn't sure how it could possibly get better but for me this book is just a tiny bit better than the first two. I'm not totally sure why or how but I just felt like I connected with it just a bit more than the earlier stories.
Dakota Landry has spent the past 12 years in jail for a crime that he swears he didn't commit. When he's finally released it's Sage Redding (we met Sage in book 1 'Terms of Release) who meets him at the prison and helps him begin the task of becoming re-integrated into society. Once he's had a chance to meet him and talk with him, Sage becomes convinced that Dakota gave up 12 years of his life for a crime he didn't commit. Sage's partner, Adam "Win" Winchester, isn't quite as easily convinced and while this does create a bit of conflict between them, it's not over the top drama and they work through it, but not before asking his friend Jayden Wilson former prosecuting attorney to look into Dakota's case. Jayden's bored with his current life as a real estate lawyer so he's more than willing to take on the challenge. But it's meeting and getting to know Dakota that convinces Jayden that Dakota's been screwed over by the system. What he doesn't understand is why.
As Jayden continues to investigate Dakota's case and spend time with him these two men fall for each other but it's by no means easy. There are more than a few obstacles to overcome for both of them. The romance in this story is slower to develop than the previous ones, however, I was totally enchanted with this pairing and found that Dakota and Jayden while an unusual pairing were also a really good fit for each other.
I loved the conversations in this book. The humor was often dry and at time self-deprecating, but not to the point of being demeaning.
"Oh yeah? My best friend in middle school did that. He left for the summer and when he came back, he was six inches taller and twenty pounds lighter and learned how to drink beer."
"Wow." Jayden tilted his head as if considering. "I think I learned how to get a wedgie."
"I learned that in the second grade, I think. I'm an overachiever."
Along with all the laughs there were moments of heartbreaking and sometimes brutal honesty, especially from Dakota...
"...I'm still an ex-con that's never had a beer or a blowjob. I still won't be able to get a job in an office. I'm still a guy who's been raped so much that I don't think you can call it rape anymore. The whole idea that I'm going to be more than I am right now just isn't true. I'm sorry, but it's a fact."
(yeah, my eyes were a little damp here, I probably need to dust or something.) I liked Jayden and how staunchly he believed in Dakota and wanted to make his world better but even more I loved Dakota. He was strong...not physically...ok, maybe that too. But he had the strength of character to want to move forward and create a life for himself and not dwell in the past and let himself become consumed by an anger that quite honestly he had every right to feel. I'm not saying he didn't have any, he just didn't let it run his life or make him a bitter person.
While the story is predominantly Jayden and Dakota's it was also really nice to see a bit of Sage and Adam as well as Eric and Troy. We were also introduced to Jayden's parents. I have to admit I really liked them both. I did have a moment where I wanted to give Jayden's momma a shake, but as a mother I also understood where she was coming from and she did have the humility to realize that she'd been out of line and Jayden's dad was even better. He loved his son and I got the impression that maybe it took him a bit to get his mind around having a gay son but it was never about not loving and supporting him...so awesome parents in my books. Dakota didn't do so well in the parent lottery so I was just as happy that his parents stayed off page. We also got to meet Patrick. Patrick is Jayden's administrative assistant and I adore him. He excels at two of my favorite activities (after reading that is) shopping and drinks. What's not to like, right? Just a thought maybe Patrick will get his own story...he needs somebody to love.
This story worked for me from beginning to ending and the ending was for me just right and that's all I'm saying about that.
'Catch and Release' is a story that can easily be read as a stand-alone but I have to say I loved that I'd read the first two books and it gave me so much familiarity with some of the secondary characters it's something that I really enjoy in a series where you get new MCs in each title, but that's just a personal preference and this book can quite easily be read on it's own if the reader chooses to do so.
An ARC of 'Catch and Release' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.