Sequel to Tequila MockingbirdSinners Series: Book Four
It isn’t easy being a Morgan. Especially when dead bodies start piling up and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.
Quinn Morgan never quite fit into the family mold. He dreamed of a life with books instead of badges and knowledge instead of law—and a life with Rafe Andrade, his older brothers’ bad boy friend and the man who broke his very young heart.
Rafe Andrade returned home to lick his wounds following his ejection from the band he helped form. A recovering drug addict, Rafe spends his time wallowing in guilt, until he finds himself faced with his original addiction, Quinn Morgan—the reason he fled the city in the first place.
When Rafe hears the Sinners are looking for a bassist, it’s a chance to redeem himself, but as a crazed murderer draws closer to Quinn, Rafe’s willing to sacrifice everything—including himself—to keep his quixotic Morgan safe and sound.
Got shadows on my ass
Time’s not on my side
Life came to give me a kiss
Then Death took me for a ride
—Riding A Pale Horse
A Couple of Years Ago
RAFE ANDRADE couldn’t shake off the black tendrils wrapped around the base of his brain. Whatever he’d taken the night before lingered, dragging him down, and there were stretches along his back and legs where he couldn’t seem to get warm. His bones ached from the cold, a brutal, icy seep into his marrow. Rafe didn’t think he would survive if he didn’t stop it soon. Moving didn’t seem to help, or at least not when he tried to shift about. For some reason, he couldn’t get his arms and legs to work properly, and his balls were pulled up someplace beneath his destroyed liver. After a moment or two of flailing about, Rafe realized he was trapped, contained in a small, hard box he was painfully banging his elbows and shins against whenever he moved.
“Oh God.” Panic and fear set in when he opened his eyes and found nothing around him but a darkness his vision couldn’t penetrate. “They buried me. Oh God, they thought I was dead and buried me. God, no.”
He fought against the box’s solid, icy sides, his elbows and heels shocked with pain with each glancing blow. The air in his chest grew hot, and his lungs folded in, tightening until Rafe couldn’t draw in another breath.
“Think, dude. I’m naked. Who the fuck buries someone naked? Up. Push. Up.” His feeble brain sparked a thought from its murky drowning. Shoving his hands up against the top of the box, Rafe felt… nothing. His arms shot straight up into the air, momentum carrying him off the cold bottom an inch before gravity slammed him back down.
“What the fuck?” The box wasn’t covered. “Where the hell am I?”
Rafe slowly sat up, ducking his head in case he hit a top as solid as the walls, but once he got upright, he found he could grasp the thick sides. Moving was still a problem, and his foot struck something solid at the bottom of the box. Feeling around the space’s slightly rounded sides, he found a spigot sticking out of the short wall by his foot, its metal surface as frigid as the slick walls around him.
“I’m in a goddamned bathtub.” His relief nearly made him sick. Sucking in heaving breaths, Rafe tried to figure out exactly where he was. There wasn’t a whisper of memory in his confused mind. Nothing to pinpoint where he’d been before the tub’s high walls held him in. The air was warmer once he’d sat up, although his ass was still freezing, and Rafe blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust.
Nothing. Not even a sliver of light coming from under a door.
“Okay, Andrade. You can do this.” He carefully tried to stand up, but his legs didn’t seem to be connected to whatever part of his brain he normally used to move him around. It took what felt like forever before he could hook a leg over the side of the tub and then another long hour or so before he felt the floor with his toes. Stepping carefully, he lowered his foot to the solid tiled surface, then gripped the tub tightly until he could get his other leg similarly untangled.
Being upright was a significant challenge. The dark didn’t help. Rafe couldn’t tell which way was up or even how large the room was. As odd as his blackened prison was, his body seemed to be in a very familiar state.
He ached from sex, and a sour rankness poured off his body, a combination of drugs, vomit, and come filming over swathes of his skin. Rafe wasn’t exactly sure if he was on the upswing of drunk and stoned or coming down. It was too soon to tell. He’d have to give it a few minutes to see if he got happier or sadder with healthy doses of belligerence and anger if whatever he took hit those spots in his brain. Thinking hurt. His skull felt boiled solid by his muddled thoughts, and as he stumbled forward, looking for a wall or a doorknob, Rafe heard his subconscious whisper for him to crawl back into the tub and wait for death to take him.
It would be easier than actually killing himself. And sure as hell less painful than how he’d been at it before.
“Fuck the pity party, Andrade,” he grumbled aloud. “Just find the fucking door.”
The knob seemed to appear beneath his grasping fingers, and he lunged for it, using one hand to slap at the wall nearby. Feeling up around the frame, Rafe found a switch, then flicked it up, hoping to finally see what he was doing.
A simple click, and suddenly he was blinded by floodlights bouncing off of white marble. A turn of the knob, and he was free, blindly stumbling into a bedroom he didn’t remember but knew its stench. It was intimate and cloying, just like the odor bleeding out of his pores. There was a pounding coming from somewhere, but Rafe couldn’t figure out if it was his head or the anxious tap of his heart in his chest.
“Hotel.” He carefully looked around. Double doors, one hanging off its hinges, led to a living room off of the bedroom. “And I’ve trashed it. That’s par for the course. But where the fuck is the hotel?”
The king-size bed was a mess, and something’d leaked on the floor near an overturned nightstand. It was standard high-star hotel fare, slithery duvet crumpled up and probably full of dried come. Somehow either he or someone else got all of the artwork off the walls and thrown into a pile of torn canvas and frames in a corner of the room. Burn marks on the wood pieces were a hint at an attempted bonfire. The water-soaked carpet and an empty ice bucket set on top of the pile spoke of at least a panicked success.
Oddly enough, the bedroom was empty. Rafe’s bedroom was never empty. Hell, even if he had to sneak a piece of ass around Jack once in a while, his bed was always filled.
“Okay, so somewhere, I probably lost a boy.” He rubbed at his face, shivering in the air-conditioned room. “God, I could use a good fuck. Better than coffee.”
His balls were still AWOL, and his dick was limp between his legs. He was thinking about sex, and nothing. Not even a stirring want churning up in his belly. Common enough. The drugs were taking their toll, and for the umpteenth time in his life, Rafe promised himself he’d cut back. A few little blue pills took care of any nonsense his body decided to toss back at him, but au natural was definitely a better way to go. Looking down at his cock, Rafe suddenly realized the chafing on his skin had less to do with fucking himself senseless and more about the condom rolled down his shaft.
“Jesus Christ.” The sheath was hard to get off, and he tugged at it, snapping it clean off, then tossing it into the failed bonfire. Rubbing at his temple, the pounding continued, a muted thump-thump echoing across his skull. “Okay, forget the guy. Where the fuck am I? I don’t even know what city I’m in.”
Panic was starting to set in. He felt like he’d missed something—a birthday or even maybe a show. It wouldn’t have been the first time he’d slept through a gig, but Jack’d been harsh on his ass the last time he skipped out. The band wasn’t going to take much more of his shit, but for the life of him, Rafe couldn’t recall if they were on tour or if he’d just gone someplace all by himself and got stinkingass wasted.
“No, not on tour. Come on, where’s your stuff, Andrade? There’d be a bass in here if—”
He found the guy he’d been looking for in the living room.
Unfortunately for both of them, he was as cold and lifeless as Rafe’s cock. A pretty blond, barely old enough to know better than to let a rock star lure him up to a hotel room, or maybe he hadn’t cared. Either way, it was a decision he’d never live to regret. His lifeless brown eyes stared up accusingly at Rafe, a froth of vomit speckled with something black drying over his parted lips and long throat. Sprawled out naked on the floor, his fingers were covered in dried blood, the carpet near his thighs streaked a dark brown where he’d clawed at the pile. Shock closed Rafe’s throat, and suddenly the pounding grew louder, shattering the silence.
Then the door flew open, and Rafe’s world broke apart.
“Police! Hands up! Clear the room!” There were a ton of cops, too many to count. Hell, too many for Rafe to even see. It was a tidal wave of uniforms, some blue cotton while others wore the red-gray livery of a Los Angeles hotel he’d stayed in before.
And in the middle of it—Jack fucking Collins, lead guitarist and Rafe’s mostly-on-sometimes-off lover, staring him straight in the face. Jack’s handsome face was curdled with rage, and the white light coming from the hotel corridor formed a corona around his broad shoulders, gilding his sun-streaked hair.
“Fucking Christ, Rafe. What the hell did you do?” Jack accused, a hot spit of words and anger pouring from his lanky body. “You’re out of the band. Missing last night? Too fucking much, but—this? I just—God, Rafe. What the hell?”
Naked, cold, and hungover, Rafe did the only thing any rational bass player would do when standing over a stiff corpse and being surrounded by cops. He leaned over and vomited all over the dead guy’s body.
Nine Months Later
REHAB TOOK everything out of him. More than two hundred days of white walls, porridge, and singing “Kumbaya My Lord,” and Rafe’d been about to kill himself just to get free. Sobriety sucked, and even worse, he’d spent his birthday craving a blow job and some coke. What he’d gotten was a cupcake and a call from his mother.
He’d clung to her voice. In an instant, he’d become a little boy again, curled up around a plastic headset and crying, deep, jagged sobs violent enough to tear him apart. They’d been the longest five minutes of his life, too short for his brain to grasp and too long for his soul to take.
It would be the last time they spoke for months.
Thank God for Brigid and Donal, or he’d have gone mad.
Rafe’s skin didn’t stop itching until three months into his sentence. As court orders went, he’d gotten off easy. Locked up in rehab on a suspended sentence was nothing compared to jail time, and despite a grumpy judge’s opinion of Rafe failing the course, he’d done pretty good. Despite what everyone’d thought of him, when he sobered up later that fateful evening, the horror of what happened in his hotel room haunted him.
He also couldn’t seem to get his feet clean of the dead blond’s—of Mark’s vomit.
Now he was slinking home, worn through and torn apart by his own demons. Despite the cleaning service his former manager set up, his Nob Hill penthouse smelled stale and dead. The doorman’d been friendly enough. Once Rafe established he actually belonged in the building and once security reassured themselves of his ownership, the property manager scurried out from his office and handed Rafe his new keys.
“There were some issues, Mr. Andrade,” the beak-nosed man simpered. “Some very hateful things painted on the side of the building, but it was taken care of. Have no worries. We rekeyed the penthouse as a precaution.”
There was no good-to-have-you-back nonsense from the sour-faced man. Rafe knew if he hadn’t actually bought the penthouse outright, there’d have been a fight to get him out. No matter what anyone said, life was always just like high school. Fuck up royally, and people were more than happy to rip his ass to shreds and hand it back to him piece by piece.
This time, he didn’t blame them.
Set on one of San Francisco’s steep hills, the building had gorgeous views of the city and bay. When he’d first seen the penthouse, Rafe knew he had to have it. It was the furthest thing from the shithole he’d grown up in, a symbol of how far he’d climbed from being a charity case begging for scraps of education and food. He’d always wanted more—wanted what his friends Connor and Sionn had, longed for a time when he didn’t have to look at price tags and juggle food against electricity or snatch cigarettes off the back of a truck to sell in a Chinatown alleyway for a bit of extra money.
The water glittered off in the distance, and the city’s spires below hadn’t quite shaken off their foggy veil. On a clear day he could see Finnegan’s, where he’d washed dishes for Sionn’s grandmother, wanting to be too proud to take the day’s leftover food home, but he hadn’t been stupid. He’d taken everything anyone offered and sometimes without permission. He’d sucked out what he could from the private school education his mother’d gotten him and charmed his way out of shit he’d fallen into.
Oddly enough, the penthouse and its million-dollar view meant nothing now. He owned it. He owned a lot of things. Stashing money and hiring people to keep every damned cent he made was the best piece of advice he’d gotten from Donal Morgan. It was a pity that was the only advice he’d listened to.
Despite the months he’d spent in Malibu soaking up sobriety, his place looked almost exactly the same as when he’d left it. Rich, warm buttery walls and comfortable furniture with a few dashes of art the decorator tossed in warmed the empty apartment. A sparkling kitchen armed with gadgets he had no idea how to use and bedrooms with beds soft enough to sink into lay off the main entrance. He’d paid for a room to be soundproofed and set up amps and a soundboard, intending to blow out his own ears while staying up all hours of the night with Jack.
That bit of life never happened, and Rafe wondered if it ever would have to begin with.
To the left of the front door, unread books lined a bank of cases, and the view from the midcentury modern living room was heart stopping, the Golden Gate Bridge poking up through the far-off mist. His favorite part of the place were the guitars hanging from a long wall separating the rest of the house from the long living space, bright spots of color splashed up against white paint and what he’d used to pull himself up out of perdition.
Some of which were now gone, taken by the man he’d built his escape on.
There hadn’t been love. Not the love he felt for Quinn Morgan—the love he’d tucked away deep inside of himself so it wouldn’t hurt—but a casual affection, a kindred musical spirit he’d not found in his other relationships.
Fuck, Jack dumping him out of his life really hurt.
The gaps in the guitars hurt the most, and Rafe stumbled to sit down on something before he fell to his knees and cried. Of all the things Rafe’d fucked up in his life, losing Jack Collins’s friendship left the biggest hole. It was more than hurt, he realized, staring at the white spaces where Jack’d once hung some of his favorite instruments. It was losing parts of his life Rafe knew he’d never get back. The band was gone. Jack was gone. There was no one he hadn’t fucked over, including the person he’d thought he’d always have, his own mother. As empty as he felt inside, Rafe knew he’d run out of excuses. Reality came back and bit him hard because he’d been the one to set it all on fire and laughed when it burned to a crisp.
A note was tucked into one of the wall mounts, and Rafe debated leaving it there for the housekeeper to clean up. His resolve lasted about a minute before he snatched it out of its perch. He wanted a drink, something to steady his nerves, but the stint in rehab left him with a sour taste for numbing his brain when things got rough. While anything chemical was now off-limits, alcohol hadn’t been his problem—wasn’t his problem, Rafe corrected himself.
“Shit’s not going to go away just because you want it to. Always going to be there.” He sat down on a fluffy armchair he didn’t remember owning. The whole place looked odd, unfamiliar in so many ways, leaving him to wonder if the guitars weren’t the only thing Jack took with him.
From the look of the handwriting on the folded paper, Jack at least left him a Dear John letter.
“More like a fuck off and die,” Rafe muttered, opening the note.
It was everything he’d imagined. Clear and strong in black ink, Jack left Rafe with no delusions he’d ever be welcomed back into Jack’s band or life. There’d been too many times, too many disappointments, and one too many deaths for Jack Collins’s liking, and Rafe Andrade could go twist in the wind for all he cared.
They’d not been in love. They’d fought as much as they’d fucked, bound by rhythms, words, and a shared hardscrabble past. Rafe wasn’t a fool to think Jack cared for him more than he liked a good piece of steak or a fine bottle of tequila, but they’d been friends. Hell, they’d gone through so much together. Rafe’d created the band with Jack, and despite it all—or maybe because of it all—he hadn’t fought Jack when he’d been pushed out. It was all over between them except for the legal wrangling as lawyers and record companies untangled Rafe’s half ownership of a band he’d help put on the map.
“I should fuck them all up and refuse to sell.” Even as the spite gushed from the sourness in his belly, Rafe knew he wouldn’t do it. He owed Jack. With as much shit as they’d been through at the start, it’d been Jack who’d held it all together once Rafe began to destroy it all in the end. “Hell, Jack. I wish you’d just let me say I’m sorry. Would you fucking at least give me that much?”
He’d fallen so damned far, crashing down on sharp rocks and tearing out the wings he’d built for himself to get away from who he’d been. And now Rafe was back where he started. Alone, unwanted, and most of all, scared down deep into his soul.
“Damn it, Andrade.” Rafe swallowed around the pain hitching up through his throat. “Should have just done the shitty world a favor and taken one last handful of fucking pills. ’Cause after all of this crap, no one’s going to fucking want you around.”
Rhys Ford has yet again written a wonderful story in this series. Rafe and Quinn are made for each other. Rafe is the only one who can truly understand Quinn’s genius and his magpie is the only one who can accept all of Rafe’s past.
I love the way the Morgan clan and the Sinners complete the story.
"As empty as he felt inside, Rafe knew he’d run out of excuses. Reality came back and bit him hard because he’d been the one to set it all on fire and laughed when it burned to a crisp."
It seems impossible to me that I'm so late getting around to reading this fourth book in Rhys Ford's 'Sinners' series. I mean, I'm almost always a release day review. Not this time, though. Life got in the way. Somehow I don't think the author will mind. Even as late to the party as I'm getting, I've really been waiting for 'Sloe Ride'. I've been watching Rafe ever since he popped up, and I've got a special place in my heart for Quinn. Let's just say I understand what it means to be different in a large family. I understand the need to get away from all of the noise and confusion for some quiet. Not to mention Quinn's genius causes some seriously adorable societal oopsies. Obviously I don't know what it means to have his genius. *grins*
Rafe has come home after pretty much burning all of his opportunities, his luck, his fame, and his friendships. Well, all except for the Morgan clan. Growing up with a single mother, the Morgans were his de-facto parents and siblings. Of course Rafe being who he was, he usually instigated any of the trouble they all got into. But it was always the youngest of the Morgan boys, Quinn, who made the spit dry up in Rafe's mouth, and made Connor warn him away.
Quinn is different. He's a genius, with a brain that can definitely do SQUIRREL at inopportune moments. His brain is wired differently than most other people’s. He has difficulty in social situations with just remembering how to act. He struggles with his brothers and his da still thinking he's a little boy. He may not be a cop, but he isn't stupid, he knows how to take care of himself. When it looks like Quinn's life is in danger, he's going to need his family, and the calm strength of Rafe, to help him survive.
It's practically impossible for me to describe the brilliance of this book. The ebb and flow of the dialogue, the characters I desperately want to be real because I want to be a part of their family, and the love between Quinn and Rafe, two men who are so different in many ways but complete each other in every way.
"We wouldn’t have worked before,” Quinn replied, his lips ghosting a kiss on Rafe’s thumb as it moved across his chin. “You needed to get lost, and I needed to get found. But now….”
“Now’s different, babe.” Rafe cocked his head. “I wandered off way too far before. I had to come back to you to find myself. Man enough to admit it. Man enough to know I’m shit without you. All of the noise and screaming inside of me just goes away when you’re near me. I forget about the crap that doesn’t really matter.”
This idiot who's trying to hurt Quinn - tried to run him off the road, blew up his car, killed his ex-boyfriend, and killed one of his students and left her body displayed on his car - he went too far when he shot at Quinn and Rafe and hit Brigid instead. The moron has no clue how serious the wrath of the Morgans can be, and it's all coming down on his head. He'll have nowhere to hide. And, by the way, the scene with Miki and Quinn at the hospital? I cried, sobbing through the whole thing. Beautiful.
I'm blown away, again, by the talent this author has, and I'm just grateful that writing is her profession so I can continue to derive pleasure from her books for years to come. I loved this installment, and I'm looking forward to more. You didn't think she was done yet, did you?
NOTE: This book was provided by the author for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews
Sloe Ride.. Well, I loved it!
Because I am that moron who jumps at the chance of reviewing for one of my favorite authors, I read this book and had no clue what was going on. Still, I enjoyed every second of it.
Rafe has been through hell and lost almost everything. Being kicked out of his band after one of his wild nights, he comes back home where he tries to piece his life back together.
But, coming back reminds him of everything he left behind and brings him close to that one who got away.
Quinn is a very complex character. Everyone sees him as a nerd and that’s not far from the truth but that’s just one “side” of him. He’s … special and he’s stronger than anyone thinks which shows over and over again throughout the book.
I’ve read a few of Rhys’s books, but this one was brilliant. One of the fascinating things about this series is how Rhys created each and every character.
There’s so much more to them than what’s immediately obvious. You’ll just have to learn how to read between the lines. I’m curious to find out what everyone who reads this book will see in Quinn.
The chemistry between the MC’s is off the charts and their connection is still present after many years apart and a lot of changing for both of them.
There’s no insta-love here. The story builds one step at a time and there’s a lot going on. The way Rhys managed to interwave the more dramatic aspects of this novel with the romance and the occasional humor, kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
It was so easy to connect with the characters, to love them; Quinn for his quiet strength and unwavering support when it came to Rafe, and Rafe for his determination and his willingness to take back what he lost, for not allowing the disappointments to rule his life.
Definitely a must read I highly recommend.
NOTE- this is NOT and standalone novel. In theory, it could be read as a one but you won’t understand much of what has happened before and you won’t be able to connect the characters and various stories. If you’re willing to give this series a try (and you should), start with Sinner’s Gin.
I really love the Sinners series. A lot! I feel like I have been waiting forever for Quinn’s story. I have gravitated toward him since the first mention of him. This was a special sort of treat. In a family as big as the Morgan Clan (That keeps growing with in laws) it’s easy to feel left out, different… even if Brigid is the Mom of the Year. Quinn has had a hard time finding a groove that people understand. But a past love comes back and it’s like the best understanding ever. BUT, it wouldn’t be a Sinners book without a mad, crazed loon trying to murder a Morgan. (Either adopted or blood) I really wonder what their blood pressure must be because my lord! Someone has set their sights on Quinn Morgan but he’s oblivious and worse stubborn. With the whole Morgan family and the love of his life, Rafe, guarding him, he has to try to finally live the life he has always longed for.
I adored this book it was suspenseful, thrilling, funny, and exciting!!! It’s a great series by an amazingly talented author!!
Oh, how I love Rhys Ford’s writing! She’s top of the list for me when it comes to an author who is able to paint a picture with words. Add in those sexy Morgan men, stir with the hot band members who are their mates, and you have a win:win combination. Oh, and did I mention a little murder and a little chaos? This book would be number one on my wish list to give to friends this year.
This installment of the Sinner’s Gin series is about that mysterious Morgan we’ve heard of in past stories but never really got to meet until now. Quinn Morgan is everything I had hoped for and more. He’s tall, slender, sexy, studious, laid-back and the one Morgan who prefers not to be in the middle of the chaos also known as the Morgan family Sunday dinner.
Connor Morgan’s long-time friend and adopted family member, Rafe Andrade, is finally back home where he belongs after a lengthy stint in a drug treatment center. Rafe destroyed everything he had built up in his life: his band, his relationship with his long-time bandmates, and his own reputation when he was found with a dead man in his apartment after a night of drinking, drugging, and debauchery. He has no idea what happened to cause the man’s death but has taken on the burden of guilt, and he is struggling to find meaning and purpose in life now that’s he back.
He doesn’t really want much more than a chance to play his bass and a chance to take up where he left off with Quinn Morgan many years ago when he gave Quinn his first kiss. Of course, that’s all he gave him at the time because Quinn’s big brothers would have killed him if he had taken liberties with their younger brother, a brother whom the family considers damaged. Just because Quinn’s mind doesn’t work like the rest of them, and his perceptions and perspectives on the world seem to be totally off-the-wall sometimes is no reason, in Rafe’s opinion, for the family to treat Quinn as if he’s deficient or defective.
When Rafe and Quinn get together this time, there’s more than a brief kiss involved as the two pick up where they left off years before, and they realize they are perfect for each other, accepting each other just the way they are. Then Quinn gets a chance to audition before a reluctant Damian, Mick, and Forest to see if he can “fit” into their band as the bassist they’ve been searching for, and his hope for a future with both Quinn and music in his life might become a reality. Unfortunately, just as he starts to gain confidence and look forward to the future, it becomes evident that someone is out to hurt Quinn and may destroy their chance to be together before they can make their dreams a reality.
As I said at the beginning of this review, I loved this story, and I highly recommend this book. If you are a lover of M/M romance, and if you love mysteries or stories about musicians, this one will be perfect for you. Since there’s so much overlap with the other stories in the series, I would also recommend that you read those books first. But the whole series is so outstanding, don’t hesitate to leap in with both feet. Hmm, or is that with both hands on your ebook reader? Either way—just do it!
Review by Barb
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