Title: Swing Shift
Author: H.J. Raine
Length: 8,500 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Valentine’s Day is just another day in the line of duty for Officer Ed Sorenson: investigate a murder, save a life, file the paperwork. But when Ed has to step out of the closet to help an injured boy and to be a role model for the New Amsterdam Police Department, he finds unexpected solace in a man who understands what it takes to keep the city and its citizens safe.
This Valentine’s Day set short has police officer Ed who is trying to get through a typical day. After meeting with a potential witness he is on his way back to the station when he interrupts a gang of men who are beating up a young gay man. As the day progresses Ed realises that he could do much more good for the gay community if he had the courage to come out of the closet.
The story is set in a world created in Hearts Under Fire and has links with another Valentaine’s Day story, Luck in the Making by Kelly Wyre. There was quite a lot to like about this story, mainly centred around the very sympathetic character of Ed. He’s a good man and a great cop, full of compassion but also thorough. The sort of man who is well liked in general by his peers. Ed is worried that if he reveals that he is gay, then he will lose the respect he currently has. As the story unfolds we see a number of barriers are broken down and Ed come to the realisation that it’s better for him to be out. I liked the way that the story worked out in this way and that Ed’s sensible and moral feelings contribute to his making that bold step.
The relationship Ed begins with a nurse is rather understated. In many ways the focus of the story isn’t on the romance but rather it’s a pleasant add on and made me happy that Ed had found a potential lover who would understand his erratic work pattern but also support him in his period of coming out.
There were a couple of niggles which I think stemmed from the book being linked to other stories. I wasn’t sure about the setting and whether it was supposed to be contemporary or slightly futuristic. I also felt that I was somehow supposed to have previous knowledge of some of the characters and that threw me a little.
These were only minor niggles though in what was a nicely written Valentine’s tale with a serious message. Those who know this author and the books she has written with Kelly Wyre will enjoy this one too. It also works as a standalone, and with a great character in Ed is definitely worth reading.