Rating: 3.75 stars
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After Sutter fled his vampire den and his sire Petrus, he was attacked by a hunter and almost killed. He barely makes it to a motel in the middle of nowhere when he collapses for the day, on the verge of death. He knows that Petrus won’t rest until his hunter finds Sutter, but there is no way Sutter can go on with his terrible wounds, starvation, and exhaustion.
Sutter is shocked to wake to find a gorgeous Marine in his room. Max lives and works at the motel his father owns and when he saw Sutter’s blood outside the door, he knew he had to help the man. He has seen too many people die to sit back and do nothing. And he is even more determined as he gets to know Sutter and realizes how much he likes and is attracted to the other man. But Sutter can not keep his secret from Max for long; he needs to feed and the attraction he feels toward Max is making him impossible to resist. Both men are hot for one another, and Sutter feeding from Max just makes the connection between them even stronger.
Sutter wants to leave the motel as soon as it is dark again but Max knows Sutter is not strong enough yet. And neither man feels like he has had enough time with the other to say goodbye. But staying put means putting his own life and Max’s at risk and Sutter knows he must go even if it is means the men will lose their chance to be together.
I really enjoyed the set up for this one with the vampire Sutter wounded and on the run, saved by the gorgeous hunky Marine. Much of the story takes place between the two of them in the motel room, which adds a sense of intensity and urgency to their relationship. There is a great chemistry between them, both emotionally and sexually, and you can really feel the connection they have.
Max and Sutter each are interesting characters and I loved the dynamic between them. Sutter has been a vampire for 20 years and is the lowest ranking of those in his den. As such he has been subject the whims and needs of the other vampires. He has been abused and hurt and made to do terrible things by a sire that has no regard for human life. He is a creature of such strength and power, but also one with a submissive vibe, who enjoys bringing pleasure to others. And now that he is injured, it accentuates this dichotomy between his inherent power and also his need to give in and allow others to take control. I do feel like we are missing some back story here though. We learn almost nothing of how he became a vampire, what made him decide to escape the den, or how he managed to get away. And if we are going to hear how horrific and evil Sutter’s past behavior was, I also wanted to understand him more and get how he has changed.
Max is a former Marine who has been sort of going through the motions for a while now, living at the motel and sort of drifting along but not really happy. He is strong and confident and handles this craziness with Sutter in stride. We know his past in the military makes him determined to see Sutter safe, as he can’t stand the idea of losing someone else he cares about. But again, I feel like his back story really needs more developing. We get little snippets, but I wanted to understand more about his dynamic with his father, more about what happened in the military to leave him so troubled, and why he is in limbo working at the motel when it is clear it is not what he wants. This is a fairly short novel, but I just felt like I needed a few more elements fleshed out with these characters to really understand them fully.
My other issue is that there are some logic inconsistencies early on, or at least things that made me confused. For example, Max doesn’t want to sleep with Sutter until he is fully healed, both because of his injuries and because he has just escaped the abusive Petrus. But then he takes Sutter to a club to find someone else to feed on, which he knows will be accompanied by Sutter having sex with the man (and just FYI, there is a threesome scene that takes place at the club). So what is the real difference? Or another example is with Sutter’s car. Max wisely moves it away from the motel to lessen the likelihood of Sutter being tracked. Then they decide it makes sense for Sutter to fake checking out to again throw off the hunter. But they worry the night clerk is very attentive and will wonder why Sutter leaves with no car. So they both leave together and get the car, bring it back, have Sutter check out and drive the car away, and then walk back to the motel again. How is the second plan any less weird or conspicuous than the clerk just not noticing Sutter doesn’t leave by car in the first place? The car thing was so complicated half the time I had no idea what was going on with it. These are small things, but there were several of these issues I found confusing or illogical.
Ok, but then things go sort of off the rails as the story closes ends, along with a whopper of an epilogue. It is obviously hard to describe in detail without spoiling, so I will do my best and put the specifics behind the spoiler tag. But basically, I found the ending to be very confusing as to various character’s motivations. And then the epilogue comes out of nowhere, making things even more confusing. There is nothing to even hint at how things end, even in hindsight, with no clarity of why these people behave like they do. I think how you feel about this story will largely depend on how you feel about the epilogue. Some readers may enjoy the sheer crazy unexpectedness of the ending, but I found myself somewhat frustrated that it doesn’t make much sense and seems more for shock value than because it makes sense in the story.
Ok, so don’t read inside the spoiler tags if you don’t want the ending revealed, because I have to explain in order for you to understand my issues with the plot. This is your final warning…[spoiler] So I feel like nothing that happens at the ending or the epilogue makes sense in hindsight. When Sutter escapes, Petrus supposedly sends Two Dog after him to scare him back to the den. But Petrus knows Two Dog works for Sutter. He assumes Two Dog is out to kill him for escaping. Not that there are bad guys out there and Sutter is safer in the den, which is supposedly Petrus’ intention. So sending Two Dog makes Sutter LESS likely to return home not more.
Then once Sutter takes off, why does Two Dog continue to chase him if he is not supposed to bring him home? Why not just let him go, continuing to think Petrus is after him? After all, this is the end result anyway. Or does was Two Dog supposed to bring him back, but chooses not to because of Max’s threat with the police? This makes even less sense because somehow being on the wrong end of a pissed off vampire when you failed a mission seems a lot worse than the possible threat of jail for his assault on Max. And what does that mean now? That Sutter is home free and no one else is coming for him? I just found this all very confusing and nothing really is explained well enough for any clarity. It feels much more like the epilogue is added for shock value, not because it make sense within the story. [/spoiler]
So I was of mixed feelings here. I actually really liked the plot set up and found Max and Sutter great together. I think Dean manages to make their feelings for one another believable even in the short time frame of the story, and I could feel the heat and connection between them. Although some of the back story needed more developing, we do get a nice sense of both men in fairly short novel. I just felt that there were too many places, both large and small, where things didn’t make sense or were confusing. The epilogue especially didn’t work for me as more than a shocking plot twist. That said, if you really like that sort of crazy turn of events, you might find the confusing aspects less of an issue. So a bit of a mixed review, but overall an enjoyable story.