“Ripping Off the Mask” by Harper Jewel has great elements but a few too many forced coincidences for my tastes. The dramatic consequence to Cooper’s coming out, the eerie communication with his partner, the amazing connection with Dr. Westley James, and several more. I think I could have suspended disbelief for one or two coincidences, but as they kept piling up, things became kind of a farce that distracted from the relationship that blossoms. Despite this, the tension and danger escalate to an exciting and chilling climactic scene and this, combined with the character growth that takes place, made this an enjoyable light story to read.
A dramatic event forces Sergeant Cooper Brandt to face his closely guarded secret, even as guilt prompts him to retreat into his shell. The unexpected connection to his new physical therapist combined with an uncanny set of circumstances prompt him to start healing…until an evil criminal threatens to destroy everything.
Thirteen years after high schooler Cooper Brandt suffered a life-altering tragedy, Newark Police Sergeant Cooper Brandt suffers yet another earthshaking misfortune while on duty. As a result, he lets the mask he donned because of his first grief-filled setback slip. When overwhelming guilt consumes him for a second time, an unexpected, and oftentimes unwanted, helping hand tries to force him into making a choice: face his demons and rip the mask off, or continue living a lie while his facade stays put.
Upon his move to New Jersey, aqua therapist Dr. Westley James meets his toughest patient yet when a snarly police sergeant accuses him of duplicity at the start of their first session. When he discovers the reason for Cooper’s ornery attitude, an odd, empty feeling he’s lived with for as long as he can remember begins to fill in like missing pieces of a puzzle.
As a fragile relationship between Cooper and Westley grows, an unhinged sociopath threatens to ruin everything. Will fate force the emotionally bruised sergeant to fasten his mask on even more tightly or will the couple’s blooming love and partnership be strong enough to help Cooper rip his mask off for good?