I started this book right after reading another of the author's books, "The Kiss". While that book was a bit disappointing, this one made me an instant fan. "Naked Dragon" is a well done gay romantic mystery with a more serious tone.
David Harris is a police officer. When the story opens, he has been called to the scene of another brutally murdered young Asian man. Seattle has a serial killer, and he's hunting in Dave's district. But, the killer has struck in two other states so the FBI is stepping in to help. Agent Robbie Taylor is "psychic." So, he knows the killer is far from done, and also that Dave is attracted to him. Robbie quickly invites Dave back to his place. This is Dave's first time with another man, and Robbie eerily knows that too. So, their first sexual encounter is frenzied, but paradoxically tender as well. The characters have very good chemistry, and their instant attraction and consummation is very believable in this story. They are under a lot of stress from a tense and dangerous case; Dave has been keeping his feelings tightly under wraps so his fellow officers don't discover he's gay and Robbie is still working to earn the respect of his fellow agents who think he's weird or crazy. All these factors lend a certain gravitas to the story that isn't often found in gay romance, even mysteries. And, the serial killer is BRUTAL. Hauser doesn't sugar-coat the murder mystery. The men need to take solace in each other as the killer gets more and more out of control the closer Robbie gets to catching him. Their passion slowly evolves into love that keeps them going.
One aspect of the novel I really liked was Robbie's ability. Throughout the novel, he anticipates not only Dave's and other people's thoughts, but also the killer's actions. Yet Hauser never confirms that he's actually psychic, or if he's just enormously gifted in observation (such as the characters from television's Psych and the Mentalist). It prevents the character from being laughable, and places him in the real world. Another good point is how the author tackles stereotypes head on, but in a subtle way. Robbie's fellow agents quickly pick-up that Robbie and Dave have a relationship. They are surprised "that big, black cop is gay." Robbie takes them down a peg for their prejudice with some pointed remarks that bring home how intelligent he is, and the issues he and Dave must contend with. The law enforcement community is not known for its open-mindedness, and being ostracized could put their lives in danger if back-up doesn't show. Robbie and Dave both earn the respect of their fellows with their professionalism and determination on the case, but these issues still linger. This isn't the first interracial romance I've read, but I liked how Hauser handled it - which was not at all. Readers get a physical description of each man, and the men express how attracted they are to each other, but the fact that one is black and the other white is irrelevant to them.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent story. The book has a lot of action as the men chase the killer, and the conclusion was exciting. Though the resolution of Dave living in Seattle and Robbie in Virginia was blatantly predictable, it worked anyway. Both characters are engaging, realistic and their romance is lovely. The sex is hot and frequent, but not too explicit. I found this to be a romantic mystery rather than erotica. The very dark case was a surprisingly good back drop for the romance - it's in our darkest hour that we need our loved ones the most. I would love to see a sequel with these two characters on another case; this would make a great series!