I really, really, really wanted to give this more stars. A major issue kept me from doing so.First, the good stuff.1) The author brings the hurt/comfort like WOAH. I kind of want to know if this person spent some time in the fan fic trenches, because she knows how to ROLL with the h/c. They say you always hurt the ones you love and she ain’t messing around here. The flashback sequences to when Cam and Austin are kidnapped and tortured by Psycho are well written and hard to read in how explicit and graphic they are. It’s scary and totally believable, almost to the point of going too far. However, it’s just the line that I want to walk with my h/c fiction. I HATE when author shy away from REALLY hurting their characters because they don’t actually want to hurt their characters. First of all, they aren’t real. Shoot them, stab them, what does it actually matter- they aren’t real people. Get over it.Clearly, this author doesn’t have that problem. LOVED IT. It makes total sense that Cam and Austin are as screwed up as they are because what they went through is totally messed up. I’m frankly surprised they’re as functional as they are.2) I loved the personality balance here. There isn’t that terrible alpha male/femme male bullshit that I don’t dig on. We’ve got two guys who were thrown together and who fall in love. There’s an interesting pull between them of who tops and who bottoms but it isn’t a REAL battle of control. It seems to be more of a shift based on who needs what, and when. I really liked that.There also seemed to be a touch of bondage and control that ran through their relationship but it was light enough that I don’t think you’d even really want to call it that, not really. But just a dab.Fun stuff and super hot. Which leads me to…3) The SUPER HOT SEX.Man, did I think the sex was hot. I did have a few bones (heh) to pick here but I’ll get to those later.I thought the sex scenes were well written, super steamy, and there was enough back and forth between Austin and Cam, in terms of who topped and who bottomed, to keep my attention and to keep me interested. 4) I liked the build of the love story. I liked how the author showed, both through the flashbacks, and through the present day stuff, how they fell in love and how they realized that they’d fallen in love. It worked really well and it was clear that it hadn’t happened instantly, even the realization. Both men took some time to figure it out, and it wasn’t that one had figured it out first and then sat there pining for the other- they both were working through their many issues, this being one, and had to figure out just what the hell they were feeling, what it meant, and so on, coming to the same conclusion at roughly the same time. While that might seem coincidental, it felt like a natural movement of character and did work well in the story.And now, the not so good.1) My biggest issue was with Jade. What happened with her presentation happens in a lot of m/m romances and that is, she’s presented as a 2D character- flat, unempathetic, hardly any personality of her own, existing in the story solely to act as a villain. We get this a lot when there’s a female character that the author needs to get out of the way quickly, or when the actions of the hero will be questionable if the female character is likable but the reader won’t care if the female character is written as a harpy or a bitch.In the book, we’re given a character, Jade, who refuses to listen to Austin after his kidnapping, who refuses to go to any counseling, who wants him to simply put his experience behind him and return to being the man he was before. She comes across as uncaring, as lacking empathy, as being unsympathetic. We aren’t given much more than this about her.And when you get to the scene when Austin cheats on her with Cam, you realize WHY. You, as the reader, can’t have any empathy for her, as the jilted wife, because if you do than AUSTIN becomes the bad guy. He’s the one cheating on his spouse, after all. But if his WIFE is the mean, bitchy wife who doesn’t understand him, who is emotionally unavailable, bordering on cruel, then it’s totally understandable why he would find comfort in the arms of the one person who understands.That’s not fair. It’s not a fair portrayal- it’s a caricature of a wife. In a book that takes great pains to show Cam as a real person and not a sketch of a person with Asperger’s, it’s disappointing that Jade would be portrayed in such a way.There are so many ways that Jade could have been presented as a decent person, as someone who cared about her husband but simple could no longer be with him, and yet none of those options were used here. There were many options that would have allowed Austin to discover that he was in love with Cam and no longer in love with Jade (without her looking like a total bitch), that would have allowed him to leave her without looking like an asshole, and none of THOSE were used here.I mean, a mutual realization that they were no longer the same people they were when they got married, that it was no longer a healthy marriage, that she couldn’t handle his anger and that she needed to not be with him, and he agreed- that would have worked for me. Instead, she’s manipulative and sneaky, uncaring and cruel, and it all seems to be so that when HE cheats on HER, you as the reader are cool with it.Well, I STILL wasn’t cool with it. He was still with her, still married, and NOT separated. He hadn’t left her yet, hadn’t even contemplated it yet. Infidelity is NOT kosher with me and that ruined Austin for me as a character, no matter how terrible of a person Jade was portrayed to be. I came up with a long list of ways this could have been rewritten to make this work without him cheating, without her being a terrible person and it just makes me sad that no one brought them up (more to the point, the author chose not to use them).I just wish that Jade had been given the respect, as a character, that Cam and Austin were given, and that was to be a three dimensional person, who had feelings, emotions, wants, dreams, etc. I wanted her to have the chance to be just as real on the page as the guys were, and to not just be a prop or a device that stood in the way of our “heroes” hooking up. Instead, she was simply a cardboard cutout of a person, and it, frankly, sucked.2) Sex issues.As hot as I thought the sex was, I did have a few issues.a) Fingering with no lube? Yeah, no. Just spit? Oh honey, HELL NO. Nothing goes up my ass without lube and according to all my gay buddies doing it up the ass, they’re right there with me. It ain’t lubricated with actual LUBE, don’t even bother. And THREE FINGERS? Honey, you trippin’.LUBRICATION. USE IT. LOVE IT. SPIT IS NOT ENOUGH.I grant you this- it was ONE TIME and from that point on, there was lots of lube, lots of condoms, and once they go barebacking, there is lots of talk about testing, etc.But that one time had me CRINGING.b) For a guy who only had ONE previous threesome experience, Austin is REALLY good at the buttsex. Like, suspiciously so. I know this is a fantasy, but I was a little, “Woah, where is all of THIS coming from?” when they had sex the first time. I would have believed it a little more had Cam done the topping that first time. I get the emotional place that scene was coming from, but WOW, it just felt like someone going to their first gymnastics class, being shown how to do a forward roll and suddenly, they can do a series of backflips right away. REALLY unbelievable.
This was a pretty cute romance and for the most part I liked all the characters, characterizations, etc.However, I did not like how the plot line with Ty was just dropped. Ty is supposed to be Ash's best friend and he gets all weird all of a sudden, for no reason, and that NEVER gets resolved. As it looks like this is supposed to be a series, my guess is that Ty will be book 2, but you know what? It's not handled well here and I feel cheated. Their relationship was important to Ash in this book and it was made front and center a number of times as part of the Ash and Fee story, so why is it okay to use Ty when necessary then but to just drop him without explanation before the end of the book? Not cool and I feel cheated. My other complaint was about the dark moment of the book. While I felt like it was well done, in terms of how dark it was and where the authors were willing to take Fee and his family I felt like Ash was pretty stupid and selfish, and frankly not worthy of the risk that Fee took on Ash's behalf.Ash never ONCE considers the fact that there could be any other reason as to why Fee doesn't want to take him home. That there could possibly be any other reason beyond Fee beyond ashamed of Ash and who Ash is (or isn't, as the case may be).Ash lives in the real world, and he's been gay a long time, in the American gay community. You're telling me he's never seen someone disowned or beat up for being gay? He's mentioned before how lucky he is that his family is so accepting, which says that he knows that other families AREN'T, so why doesn't he go there?Because the AUTHORS don't let him. Either that, or he's SO self-centered that he's not worthy of Fee's time and effort. And either option is disappointing.When Ash goes to see Fee, his reaction is what I would have hoped for, but it's the "too little too late" reaction of the person who has done the wrong thing and I was super disappointed in him and in the book.If it weren't for that, this would have gotten 4 or more stars.
Closer to a 3.5 than anything else, let's be fair.I picked this one up at the recent RWA conference because it looked cute. I liked the cover and I thought the premise sounded like something that pushed a lot of my storytelling buttons.I was right. It was cute, in all the right ways. It had enough weight to not be annoying- I enjoyed the subplot of the teenager trying to get over her mother's death while finding love of her own- while not being heavy.I have always been a fan of the trope "old friends fall in love" or "old loves come back together" and this was a nice version of that.I did think that even though the author actually brings it up in the book, the fact that when the supermodel tells the tabloids that she's engaged to Grif, the fact that Nicole actually does get mad about it did annoy me a little bit. I felt like she was doing so well to not fall for that trap and then failed to communicate when she really needed to do a good job at it. *sigh*All in all, I felt like it was a fun, fast, light read that I would pass on to anyone who likes a quick romance.
I didn’t actually expect to like this book. It has the hallmarks of books that I haven’t liked in the past. It’s in first person. The narrator has the white blond hair of self-inserted, Marty-Stu’s that I have loathed. He’s good looking and knows it, in a way that I generally despise.And yet, I found myself falling for Vincent in a way that apparently EVERYONE does.I was intrigued by both the brutality and the sexualized nature of that brutality. This felt like a book in the same vein as “Dexter”, where our heroes would be the bad guys in any other novel.I loved Frank. I disagree with other reviewers that found him to be uneven or inconsistent. We’re seeing him through the eyes of a first person narrator, so that’s the nature of the beast. We’re only ever going to observe his behavior, and never get the inside scoop on the why’s or how’s of it, because we aren’t ever inside his head. It can’t be inconsistent because we aren’t given a real set of rules that must be followed, based on anything other than what Vincent has observed and his interpretation of that data, which doesn’t make it accurate, just data.I enjoyed the story thoroughly and loved that Vincent ended up with Frank, and Frank ended up with a book store. That made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I was glad that they had left the assassin life, although knowing that there is a second book in the works, it makes me think that they might get sucked back in. I feel like since Frank’s brother is dead, perhaps he might be able to get back to work for his former employer, although I’m not sure if he’d want to. Since he felt it was safe to return to Paris, I feel like it’s not totally outside the realm of possibility. I liked that we did finally meet Bella, although I wished we had met her earlier. She seemed like a cool, fun character that would have been interesting to see Frank interact with, and would have caused all sorts of trouble for Vincent. I hope that she shows up in the next book. I could have done without Casey and Maggie completely. I hated both of them and felt like they were author favorite characters but the story could have done without them. I know that there was the whole thing with Maggie’s boyfriend being a lawyer and his threat of litigation is how Frank got out of trouble but that whole plot line was total and utter bullshit and made NO SENSE. That’s not how the law works, friends. It just doesn’t. And the timing of where Casey and Maggie were to get there quickly, etc- it was unclear and made no sense, and the whole thing had a kind of deus ex machina feel to it that I didn’t like after getting this far into the book. HATED THESE CHARACTERS OH MY GOD. I would have given this book five stars if it weren’t for these characters. Not kidding. The stupid Titanic painting. JFC.Dear lord, please don’t let them be in the next book. PLEASE. It’ll be just my luck that they’ll be main characters. *sigh*.I highly recommend this book. It is gruesome and dark, but I loved it. I found it fascinating and twisted but something that I found very, very difficult to put down. I didn’t have a problem with much of anything until I got to about the 82% mark, when Casey and Maggie really came into play. Other than those characters, I loved it and would suggest it as a purchase for anyone who has read or watched Dexter or is a fan of Criminal Minds, or enjoys darker stories, fanfics, etc.