• Reasonable Doubt

  • Hazard and Somerset, Book 5
  • By: Gregory Ashe
  • Narrated by: Tristan James
  • Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (377 ratings)
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Reasonable Doubt

By: Gregory Ashe
Narrated by: Tristan James
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Publisher's summary

After almost 20 years, Emery Hazard finally has the man he loves. But things with his boyfriend and fellow detective, John-Henry Somerset, are never easy, and they’ve been more complicated lately for two reasons: Somers’s ex-wife and daughter. No matter what Hazard does, he can’t seem to get away from the most important women in his boyfriend’s life.

While Hazard struggles with his new reality (changing dirty diapers, just to start), a bizarre murder offers a distraction. John Oscar Walden, the leader of a local cult, is found dead by the police, and the case falls to Hazard and Somers. The investigation takes the two detectives into the cult’s twisted relationships and the unswerving demands of power and faith.

But the deeper Hazard looks into the cult, the deeper he must look into his own past, where belief and reason have already clashed once. And as Hazard struggles to protect the most vulnerable of Walden’s victims, he uncovers a deeper, more vicious plot behind Walden’s murder, and Hazard finds himself doing what he never expected: racing to save the killer.

Only, that is, if Somers doesn’t need him to babysit.

©2018 Gregory Ashe (P)2019 Gregory Ashe

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Back and forth...

I’ve been going round and round with Somers and Hazards for the previous four books. Not knowing what to think of them or their relationship. So this time I figured I’d go into this book with a clean slate and forget that I’ve had issues with them in the past for things that they either did/said or didn’t say or do. For the most part that actually worked. Then again this book brought its own set of issues and this time the mystery wasn’t enough to fully engage me.

This time around Hazard and Somers are investigating a murder in a cult. And investigating cults or within a cult is far from easy as they tend to be tightlipped, unfriendly and not willing to help. However the more they uncover about the people around the victim the stranger it all gets, and in the end they don’t really know who they are supposed to protect and who they’re going to arrest. As you might have guessed, there are many twists and turns in this murder investigation, and it also brings up painful memories of the past for Hazard, things he’d buried a long time ago.

Somers and Hazard are exhausting. They are finally in a relationship – with each other. A relationship they’ve both been longing for since high school. They are open about said relationship – to everyone but each other. What I mean is, we get a lot of internal monologues, and freak outs “what if he doesn’t love me” “Is he still in love with his ex?” “Will he go back to his ex and just haven’t told me” and so on. They haven’t really figured out that talking to each other might be an idea – admitting their feelings to others doesn’t seem to be an issue, but to each other… that’s a whole different story. Some of it was fine and fit, but some just created unnecessary drama and this constant back and forth got old real fast. That might just be me though, so don’t take it as gospel.

There is no doubt that Tristan James is vastly talented when it comes to audio narrations, I mean he almost has it all; different accents, voices and passion. And he’s also able to consistently keep them throughout the length of the book. Well for one exception, there was one (minor) character that when first arriving was talking with a lisp which seconds later magically disappeared. Sure it’s minor and easy to overlook, and personally I do prefer grownup characters to not have a lisp.

I haven’t decided yet if this is the time I part ways with this series or not, but I think it might just be. But then again listening to gay fiction instead of m/m romance is refreshing, so might just cave when the next audio is released and pick up the next one.

A copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review for Love Bytes.

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least good of the series. unsatisfactory.

I’ve been glomming this series despite the main characters being cops, and doing all kinds of bad cop things, like minor abuses of power, while thinking they’re the good guys. Because they mostly are good guys. But they go off the rails in this installment. And nearly every person in the story is terrible or clinging to the edge of terrible by the thinnest margin.

Content warning: for abuse of teenagers, including sexual coercion, thoughts of abuse, & relived trauma. Anyone with any conversion therapy or brainwashing trigger should stay miles away from this.

This heart of the book kind of redeemed itself toward the end but…
(minor spoilers, no crucial reveals)
-it retconned a major messed up backstory for Hazard.
- Somers’s drinking is ignored utterly. At the end of the last book he’s nearly become an alcoholic. I did not need for him to become one and “hit rock bottom” since his rock bottom was admitting he wanted Hazard as a lover since that’s also his apex event, it could lead to a reduced dependency on alcohol. But he apparently stopped cold turkey and even in times of panic and peril doesn’t think once of using his primary learned coping mechanism of drinking? He drank enough that at 8 weeks out, he’s still going tp be thinking of booze as an option. But we don’t even see him have the thought and turn away from booze by choice. It’s magically solved.
- the guys can read each other like books except for their feelings toward each other which they get backwards and sideways and do anything to avoid addressing directly. Their fears here are ones that would prevent them getting together, not staying together. The end made it make more sense but it was a tired plotline that I thought was resolved already.
- it has the yet another “I finally realized how I felt about him” moment contingent on a yet another near death experience.
- the murders kept piling up and piling up and that never seemed to be enough to get all the cops to talk to each other. One would think they’d, at some point, have an all hands on deck meeting to share case knowledge with the entire force when murder 3 or 18 (or whatever the body count got to) popped up.
- It was a 12 person cult. How hard could it be to keep an eye on them? How many people can they kill? (If the were not white, they’d have been rounded up long before murder 2 or 3 or 12 happened.)
- They let Clyde get reabducted by the cult. I almost DNF’d right there. Then, despite thinking he was in immediate danger, H & S did not move heaven and earth to find him. Or even really think about him all that much. It was a whole catastrophe deserving of swear words, and no mistake, that was badly done. Honestly, I don’t know why I kept listening.
- unless I missed a timing change (can’t flip back to check dates easily on audio) Somers gets upset about a phone call before the phone call happens.
-Hazard is passively mean to Nico who isn’t even in this book. Just speak up, man. Say literally anything. Even I’m sorry. These guys just seethe with toxic masculinity and that they are trying to overcome that along with their internalized homophobia is what makes them worth the bother. When they keep doing mean things it makes me less likely to bother with them.
- Hazard spends pages not talking. Even when he calls 911, he never tries to say anything to help make sense of the situation, just gets jammed up in his head. And ok, he’s not a talker and it’s tense, but there were several obnoxious silences too many. I’m still mad Hazard made Somers feel bad about his birthday. And he should have found that dvd in his cleaning fugue.
- stalking behavior and jealous actions are still discussed, in some cases, as love. No. Abuse isn’t love. Stalking, for instance, is about power and wanting to own someone’s attention. It is not a sign of caring. It is selfish. There are at least 3 times when one of the numerous creepy bad actors is this mess could and should have been taken more seriously. The final time when Hazard tries to talk sense to them, but fails to disarm them, remove them, or even warn other people to be on guard about them was not enough. Just another time when cops think stalking isn’t a problem. Almost DNF’d there, too, but figured I’d read to the end.
- Through deliberate action, accident, inattention, and fighting, Hazard bleeds so much it’s a wonder he has skin and blood left to make it halfway through the book.
- Most people can tell roughly what time it is based on their routine or how hungry they are or the sun or shadows in a room or…
- I’m getting really tired of every other person in the book throwing slurs at H&S at every possible opportunity. I don’t care if it’s as realistic as them being obnoxious about not showing badges when asked and doing dangerous things in traffic. It feels excessive. As do the traffic related incidents.

I’m going to take a break from the series now. May or may not start it back up. The storytelling is engaging and the mysteries are more complex than most, for all that there is intensive navel gazing and a generally toxic atmosphere. It’s Somers & Hazard trying to overcome the toxicity of their past & environments that make them interesting. They don’t try hard enough not to be jerks in this installment. They even do deliberately wrong or mean things like play in traffic. No, I will not let that go. If they need to be obnoxious to each other, they can do it without risking other people’s lives.

Steam: Low. There are M/M encounters with some vague details. There is lots of frustrated teasing and smoldering looks. There are a few minor physical skirmishes that double as flirting but skirt the line of acceptable behavior.

Narration: Honestly I’m not too mad the narrator and editors phoned this one in. I wouldn’t want to spend extra time to fix all the mispronounced/substituted words either. The voices are still mostly right, but this was no one’s best work.

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4 people found this helpful

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a bit repetitive.

I have enjoyed this series, and I do recommend it but I'm stopping here. The magic is missing, the chemistry lost. Poetic yes, but could have shortened it and covered the same territory. wonderful author but they ran out of steam with this series, sometimes that happens. Time to start fresh.

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3 people found this helpful

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Hazard & Somers keep getting better

I’m so invested in these two that I don’t think I could dislike any book about them. They’re together finally, but still working through some personal doubts and insecurities. The crime they’re solving in this one is straight up crazy with the religious fanatics. I adore Hazard’s love for Evie and I’m absolutely thrilled that Cora wasn’t written as the vindictive ex. The three of them trying to figure out how to co-parent is everything. Idk I really just love everything about this series

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Love this series

I like Tristan James as a narrator. He did a great job with this series. I love this series. My only complaint is the level of bigotry and the vitriol that some of the characters spew. I kind of feel like the author could have expressed how ignorant the people were without all the name calling.

Having said that, the writing is great. I'm not a slow burn person but I loved this couple. One is a loveable butt and the other is a cheeky sometimes scared to act man.

This is my second go round on this series. the spinoffs for these books are just as good.
All in all great listen.

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A total and complete delight...

Gregory, you have put together an intriguing tale with twists and turns, philosophical quests, and just a plain old excellent piece of work! I commend you for the intricacy of the plot and the thought behind the many different aspects of life's questions. Your're writing is refreshing, as well as, intriguing. Bravo!

Tristan, no one else could do this like you. You are these characters and I so appreciate listening to your adorable tones and tenures...

Listener, get ready to listen because there are twists and turns that if you don't pay attention, you'll miss the story. You'll think, you'll feel, you'll laugh...and even though the best course of action is to listen to each book leading up to this one, I rarely ever say this, but you could listen to this one all on its own and find an excellent piece of work.

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First rate mystery! Outstanding narration!

This is one of my all time favorite series. I love mysteries and angst, intelligent writing and good editing/proofreading. I want steam but not gratuitous sex. I look for MCs with strong personalities and kind hearts, with depth of character, and if they're a bit broken, so much the better. With every book in the Hazard and Somerset series, I get all of this and more.

Reasonable Doubt is a first rate mystery with a generous dose of romance, humor and heart. The MCs have been dancing around one another throughout the entire series, and while they spent much (perhaps a bit too much) of this book convinced they were each going to be dumped by the other, their relationship has clearly grown by the end.

Reasonable Doubt had me on the edge of my seat and on the verge of tears several times, in part due to the outstanding narration of Tristan James. As much as I want to know what comes next for this couple, I will wait patiently for the next book to be released on audio--they are that well done!

I highly recommend Reasonable Doubt and previous books in the Hazard and Somerset series. They are not to be missed!

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Nakita Thomas

Loved it I will definitely be listening to it again and listening to book 6.

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Favorite in the series so far

Ok the Hazard + Evie content has me hooked. I loved seeing the very hard outer shell angry broody MC turn into a puddle with toddler. Yes, yes, good, good.

Glad there is finally some romance! The slowest of slow relationship arc in this series. I love how in they both are, and it's nice seeing them happy (for once).

The religious cult element of this and conversion therapy was really hard to get through. I also would so love it if slurs stopped getting tossed around in everyday conversation, but it's the norm in this world it appears. Also, not sure if it's different in the ebook/physical book but I need to get a tally going of the amount of times 'scarecrow eyes' and 'turquoise/tropical eyes' are brought up. Pls, maybe the narration is just a bit noticeable for those phrases, lol.

Da*mnit, now I want more kiddo content, it's very sweet and refreshing with the constant pain, angst, murder, and general evilness going on in their world.

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My favorite so far

OMG what a story!
the development of the relationship between Ree and John is really well done. I really appreciate the questioning bring by the mystery.
Do not hesitate to listen to that audiobook

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