Hell & High Water (THIRDS Book 1) - Charlie Cochet
4.5 Stars

Ah, book obsession, what would life be without it?

Charlie Cochet has opened up a whole new world of action and danger in Hell & High Water, Book One in her new Urban Fantasy series, set in a New York City where Therians (a race of shifters) and humans (the TH in THIRDS) co-exist, though not always peacefully, which is why the THIRDS exists.

Introduced at just about the lowest point in his life—post-trial after doing the unthinkable and unforgiveable: testifying against his own partner, post dump after his boyfriend bails on him for it—Human Police Force detective Dexter Daley finds himself beat up and booted out of the HPF because he followed his conscience. Much to his surprise, Dex is thrown into a new company of brothers and sisters in arms, Destructive Delta—a highly dangerous and respected unit within the THIRDS—to fill a position left vacant after losing one of their comrades. One of the things Charlie Cochet does so perfectly with Dex, right from the outset, is show the reader who it is we’ll be dealing with. He’s part Energizer Bunny and part cheeky-freaky sidekick to his altogether too fierce fellow teammates, which includes his Therian partner and team leader Sloane Brodie.

To say Dex got off on the wrong foot with his new partners is an understatement, there’s some residual pain and resentment left unresolved there, but Dex just keeps going and going and going… spreading his particular brand of mischief and mayhem while watching their trust and respect begin to grow, albeit somewhat grudgingly. Dex’s intuition about what the men and women of Destructive Delta need to help them heal, while watching some of them fight their own growing feelings of acceptance, was a great backdrop to a serial murder investigation where all the clues kept adding up to a lot of nothing. Dex is about as loveable a guy as has ever been written, and he played the perfect foil to Sloane’s gruff exterior and wounded heart.

Which leads us to our two MCs. What would a Charlie Cochet book be without a little romance, right? I loved Dex and Sloane together. And, what would a Charlie Cochet book be without a painful backstory that tugs at your heartstrings while it’s at it? Dex has the memories of a former lover to compete against, and Sloane doesn’t make it easy on either of them to find a way to reconcile their growing feelings for each other. The past isn’t the only complication these two are up against either, considering that fraternizing with a fellow agent is against the rules, which adds a great bit of conflict to the drama of both men being openly gay but not being able to act openly on their connection with each other. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out, for sure.

Hell & High Water starts off with the world and character building, the slow simmer of introduction which then leads to a boiling finish, when a killer is finally culled from the red herrings in an action packed showdown that left me with plenty of pent up anxiety as I turned page after page to see what would happen next. If you’re a reader whose imagination brings books to life to play like a movie of words in your mind, you’re in for a treat with this book.

All the characters play beautifully off of each other in Hell & High Water, and there are plenty of them to love, both human and Therian: from Cael and Tony, Dex’s teammate and Commanding Officer, who also happen to be his adopted brother and father; to Ash, who’s a big jerk but, yeah, he grows on you; to Rosa to Letty to Calvin and Hobbs. To Dex and Sloane themselves, who’ve been set up at the end of this book with one hell of a taunt that will lead beautifully into the next book in the series. It’s one I personally can’t wait to get my hands on.