Review of Courage by Jesse J. Thoma
I love cop stories and Jesse J. Thoma has once again delivered a good one.
It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of a person in distress, especially if the person is armed, to calm them down and de-escalate the situation. Natasha Pearson, a social worker, has the ability to do this as a mental health clinician with the new ride-along program, where she is called to situations with a cop as her partner where people are volatile because of mental distress or substance abuse. Natasha is partnered with Tommy Finch, a cop through and through, from a family of cops. She is a role model and is absolutely convinced of the importance and rightness of good and fair police work. But being paired with a social worker is definitely not one of them. She has her concerns about safety when she has to babysit the unarmed Natasha and has no one to watch her back herself. How is that supposed to work?
Jesse J. Thoma brings two stories to life in parallel, one being the work and dynamics of the new ride-along program and how the two protagonists deal with it, and the other the romance between the two. I loved both parts. I liked riding along in the car with Tommy and Natasha and listening to them argue, fight and reach out to each other, and watching them slowly develop into a good team. They challenge not only their partner’s work but their own to make the program a success and convince other police officers that it has many positive sides. The descriptions of the situations the two get into are narrated very well and kept me on the edge of my seat hoping for the best ending.
Despite all the arguments and fights, both characters are attracted to each other from the beginning. The chemistry is there, not overwhelmingly sparkling, but good chemistry. Due to police rules forbidding a relationship between partners, the romance is a bit of a slow-burn without really being a slow burn – if that makes sense – because the author did a good job of showing their mutual feelings and how they struggled not to break the rules. I clicked with both of them from the beginning. Tommy and Natasha are confident and strong on the job, but as in real life, they also have insecurities that appear every now and then.
The supporting characters also play a strong role, especially Tommy’s family, who show Natasha that there are indeed hard-working, loving, and caring families, not just on TV. In particular, Tommy’s sister Harry and her mother play an important role. Natasha’s family is the complete opposite, rich and spoiled, who think they can do anything with money.
Even though Thomas’s book Serenity is set in the same universe, Courage can easily be read as a standalone. I haven’t read Serenity and I don’t feel like I missed anything important but I will definitely read Serenity as well.
Highly recommended for anyone looking for a good cop/social worker story who enjoys angst and tricky situations.
My rating 4.5 stars.
Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for receiving an ARC for an honest review