Rating: 3.75 stars
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Tired of the constant pressure of fame as guitarist for platinum-selling rock band Flesh Hook, Scott Thompson just wants an escape. Scott’s always been one for the adrenaline rush though, so a quiet trip to the beach isn’t his style. Instead, he books a “ride” with The Company—a business dedicated to fantasy fulfillment, paying three rednecks to chase him through the woods and potentially catch up to him, a la the movie Deliverance.
Johnny Lee’s used to the type of guys that book time on his ride—rich, powerful, and completely forgettable once he’s done with them. He’s damn good at what he does and the Deliverance set is one of the most popular rides at The Company. He’s run politicians, CEOs, and celebrities through his ride giving them all exactly what they want, a few hours of not being in charge, and never once has he broken character or connected with any of them—until Scott.
From the very first night, things don’t go at all the way Scott planned, especially his strange attraction to the ringleader of this particular ride. Johnny Lee seems to return the weird feelings of connection, but The Company has strict rules about what’s supposed to happen on these sets and the two other men Scott hired aren’t about to let Johnny Lee go soft on Scott. Scott wants to see if his attraction to Johnny Lee goes beyond this cabin in the middle of nowhere, but first he’s got to survive the weekend.
I went into this book not having any idea of what to expect, and I’m glad I went into it with an open mind because this wasn’t like anything I’ve ever read before. This book can’t really be pigeon-holed into one category and I really appreciated that. I enjoyed the action elements to the story, I enjoyed the elaborate set up and the direction the fantasy fulfillment took this story, and I enjoyed the subtle hints of romance tucked in between the torture and sexual sadism. There were a few things that kept this from being a perfect read, but on the whole, I was content to take a ride with this book right alongside Scott.
One of the things that really worked about this book was the pacing. Everything kept moving inexorably forward and it kept the action from ever feeling dull or repetitive. I would have liked maybe a touch more time before the action really got rolling to get to know the characters, but I also liked that we were just dumped right in as well, so.
The biggest downside to this book is the lack of characterization. I liked all of the characters in the book, and all of them felt “real” and not just like cardboard cutouts there to fill spaces in the plot, but we never really got a sense of what was driving any of them, and I really wanted to. Specifically Johnny Lee. He tells Scott that Scott is different, that he’s never done the things he’s doing with Scott while in character before, and I just really wanted to know why. Scott is the same way. We get more about his motivation than we do about any of the other characters since we’re in his POV, but I still would have loved to see that explored a little more. I loved the hint of backstory we got from him and I really wanted some expansion of it.
As far as the actual plot goes, I think it worked pretty well for the type of story this was. The lack of character motivation meant that some of the scenes really lacked the emotional pull that should have accompanied the action, but on the whole I think it worked. The sex scenes were somehow both tame and too much so that was a bit of a disappointment, and there isn’t really much of a resolution at the end—although there is a sequel, so I’m hoping for a little resolution there.
I’d recommend this for fans of extreme role-playing or kinky rednecks. Don’t go into this expecting a lot of romance, or really a ton of emotion in general, but it’s a fast, action-packed read.