Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Malory Claremont has just been released from two years in jail for aggravated robbery. Now on parole, he is expected to try and have a normal life, yet things for Mal have always been far from normal. Malory is one of the awakened, those among us with super powered abilities to control heat, cold, or electricity. Along with his cousin Brady, Malory was raised by his abusive father to be part of the family crime ring. And although Brady wised up years before and got the hell out before that life killed him, Malory could not bring himself to leave his father, despite knowing better. So when Brady made one last ditch attempt to break away from the family that was determined to suck him back into trouble, Malory ended up in jail for his crimes, and without the cousin he loved like a brother.
Now on the outside, Malory is determined to be the model citizen and do whatever it takes to stay out of trouble. He finds a crappy apartment and a crappier job, meets with his parole officer, and does everything he can to reign in the fire inside him. While at his mandated group therapy, Mal meets Theo McCracken, a fellow awakened with his own superpowers, also recently out of jail. At first Malory is so caught up just trying to keep on going that he barely notices Theo. But Theo is determined and soon Malory finds himself drawn to the equally broken man. The sexual heat between them begins to turn to more, and Malory finds that Theo is a source of strength and comfort in a world that seems to always be fighting against him.
But trying to lead a normal life is not easy for either Mal or Theo, and not just because of the restrictions each has as a former felon on parole. Each man faces demons from his past that threaten to derail his future. Theo’s mother is determined to see him, wanting to be a part of his life despite playing a key role in ruining it. And Malory must come to terms with his relationship with Brady, the man he once loved as a brother, the man who saved Mal by setting him up to be arrested rather than one day ending up dead. Both men have faced loss and rejection by those they loved, and both men need to come to terms with their past in order to move on to the future together.
Re-Entry Burn is another wonderful installment in Katey Hawthorne’s fabulous Superpowered Love series. While the other books in the series stand alone and can be read in any order, Re-Entry Burn follows chronologically from Riot Boy (one of my absolute favorites!). In that first book, we meet Malory’s cousin Brady as he deals with his own issues and falls in love with Etienne. Along with his father, Malory is the villain of that story, determined to drag Brady back from the life he has built with Etienne and into yet one more crime. We see the pain Brady feels at having to cut Mal loose, knowing Malory is incapable at that point of saving himself and can only drag Brady under with him. And here in Re-Entry Burn we see things from the other side, as Malory becomes the hero of his own story.
I love a good redemption story and was so thrilled to see that Malory was getting his own book. I think Hawthorne does a fabulous job here of helping us see the other side of Malory, the broken man who, after being abandoned by his mother as a child, couldn’t bring himself to leave his father, despite knowing his father did not deserve his love and loyalty. We see how hurt he was when Brady left, how much he fears abandonment by those he loves. And how hard he is trying to be good now that he is out of jail. So we get enough here to root for Malory, to want to see him happy and not hate him for his past sins. But at the same time, we still see the dark underside here, the parts of Malory that long to let that inner fire out. The side of him that must bite his tongue from speaking his mind for fear of ending up back in jail. It is a nice balance of making him redeemable, but at the same time keeping that inner bad boy.
This story is told from Malory’s POV, and we already know a lot about him from Riot Boy, and so it takes longer to really get to know Theo as well. I did feel like the first part of the book was so focused on Mal that I didn’t feel as much of a connection to Theo, either as a reader, or between the two men. But as they settle into more of a relationship, we get to see Theo’s struggles as well. Both men gave everything to those they loved, risked themselves for others, and then paid the price. Both suffered abandonment, and still face those fears with one another. I loved seeing these two broken men make things work together. They mess up a lot, and they struggle with their own demons, but they cling to each other and find strength in each other’s support. There is a sweetness to them that you wouldn’t expect, along with so much heat and intensity and sexiness.
Hawthorne really captures an interesting element of these guys that comes from their roles as felons on parole. Life in prison forced a roughness out of them, a sense of protectiveness and self-preservation. Malory explains how you learn to keep your head down, to stay out of people’s business, to not expose any of yourself to others for fear it will be used against you. Both men have learned to be closed off from others, yet when they are released into the world, they are forced into just the opposite. As parolee’s nothing in their lives is private. Their apartments are subject to random search, they must report to their parole officers every move they make. And worse, they are required to share their feelings, both with the PO and in their group therapy. It is an interesting contrast and one that makes for really complicated characters.
I also loved the way Hawthorne incorporates the super powers aspect of the story. Malory’s father was a hot thermal and Brady’s father was cold. They used their powers together in their crimes, and from childhood groomed Brady and Mal to do the same. Their fathers tried to teach them to create a perfect balance between the hot and the cold, but Brady and Mal could never quite master it together. When Mal meets Theo, he is wary that Theo is a cold thermal like Brady, still haunted by his past. But these two men manage to achieve what Brady and Mal could not, that perfect balance of powers that can create something amazing, the connection between them just exactly right. Hawthorne incorporates this so well in the little details too, the thrill Mal gets when Theo runs his chilled fingers down Mal’s spine, or the way Mal heats up Theo so he can smell the sweat and passion. It is all built in so well in the big and the small moments.
So yeah, I am a huge fan of this series and was so excited to get Mal’s story. I did feel the first portion dragged a bit, as we are largely in Malory’s head with his own narrative. But as things develop more with Theo they really picked and I loved these two guys together. And I just loved LOVED the ending. Perfectly tied together and very satisfying. Highly recommended.
P.S. This story could theoretically stand alone as most of the backstory is covered. But really, you MUST read Riot Boy because it is totally amazing (Brady and Etienne are like my favorites ever). It also really makes this book more rich to understand things from Brady’s side and then move over to Malory’s viewpoint. So yeah, read them both.
Cover Review: Yeah, so this cover is sort of over the top (even Hawthorne admits it is awesomely porny) but I can’t help but like it because I love P.L. Nunn’s work. Plus it totally captures an amazingly hot scene from the book, so I liked it even more after reading.
Willoughby Spit is a free short story that follows Riot Boy and updates us on life with Brady and Etienne. Brady’s band has moved from a cover band playing local bars to a real touring band. But now that they are set to travel for a couple of months, Brady is panicking and needs Etienne’s support to get him grounded again. The story also serves as a connection between Riot Boy, where Malory is one of the villains, to Re-Entry Burn where he is the hero. We learn a little bit more about Brady and Mallory’s early relationship and what shaped them both.
But mostly this is a story about Brady and Etienne, who I seriously love and adore beyond reason. Riot Boy is one of my favorite books and they are two of my all time favorite characters. So I was thrilled to see them again, especially this time from Brady’s POV. What Hawthorne does so well here is show us that connection between the two men. Despite how Brady has grown while being with Et, he still gets fluttery and anxious and has that flight response when he gets scared. But now Et is there to ground him, to help him through his anxieties, and we really see that so well here. I particularly liked this passage, as Brady describes being with Etienne:
“You’re beautiful.” He pressed his lips to my neck and sucked. “That’s all I thought about all day.” He moved over and out to my shoulder, licking just above my arm pit, then sucking hard, so my whole skin felt like it went tight. “How I wanted to be here, on top of you, telling you that you’re beautiful.” He kissed the softest part of my inner arm, where my half sleeve winds over and around. “Proving it to you.”
The boy knew I needed it, and regular-like, and he always delivered with the sweet somethings in my ear. But today it was even more ridiculous, the way it unwound me little by little, every word pulling at the thread, more and more out faster and faster.
So this short was fabulous and does a great job of connecting the two books. While I think works best read between them, you can read it as a stand alone or really in any order. It is available on Hawthorne’s website on the Free Reads page and is downloadable in a variety of formats.