Courage – Jesse J. Thoma

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Set in the same universe as Serenity, Thoma has again done a great job of exploring difficult, relevant topics in an accessible way, whilst also managing to include a believable romance and some much needed elements of humour.

Natasha is a social worker with a great reputation on the street. She’s been hand-picked to work with the police as part of a ride-along programme to show how social workers paired with the police can deescalate situations and lead to more positive outcomes for those with mental health and addiction struggles.

Tommy is a cop from a family of cops. She’s not particularly impressed to have been landed with Natasha as her partner, no matter how good looking she thinks she is. She believes herself to be a good cop and isn’t sure why everyone feels Natasha will have something to offer – except perhaps to get her killed.

The book opens with a bang, then cuts back approximately 18 months to tell the story of how Natasha gets to that day. I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks in the majority of cases, but I actually enjoyed this approach for this book. It doesn’t give too much away and introduces some important characters whilst giving you something to provide some context on the journey back to that day.

Covering a number of difficult topics, in my opinion Thoma excels in her discussions of mental health, drugs and policing. The narrative forces you to think and examine your own thoughts and feelings on the topics without ever feeling too

The working relationship between Tommy and Natasha is great and this is where a lot of the humour comes in. I enjoyed the back and forth they both have, along with the way they both consistently reevaluated their approach to work, each other, the ride-along programme and their families. As a couple they have great chemistry and you can really imagine them together. I enjoyed the sort of slow burn they have to have due to the job and how this solidified their want for each other.

Tommy’s family are really well written, especially her mother and sister. I particularly enjoyed the family scenes at the dinner table and the grounding they provided for both the characters and the narrative.

You don’t need to have read Serenity to read this – one bit part character in Serenity appears here in a little more details and a couple of other Serenity characters are mentioned, but you wouldn’t need to know anything about them to enjoy Courage. I would happily recommend both Serenity and Courage and am hoping Thoma has a third book in the works for this universe.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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