Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
When secret operative Jack Hunter sees Christian Manning servicing a client in an alley, his body reacts in ways he has kept buried. There is something about the young Christian that calls to Hunter on so many levels, the physical response being the most noticeable.
Sure Christian thinks Hunter is attractive, but just like all men they are a means to an end: drug money. When Hunter turns Christian down, Christian goes on his way, but not before telling Hunter where he can find him if he changes his mind.
Hunter is trying to distance himself from the dangerous security and mercenary business he helped create. Before heading out of town for an extended period of time, he is compelled to check up on Christian. When Hunter sees Christian being attacked, he steps in and brings him to his secluded cabin.
Together in a remote cabin, both men struggle to take control of their lives. Christian fights his heroin addiction and Hunter needs to distance himself from his organization, which is becoming increasingly unstable and volatile. The close quarters the men share have sparks igniting. Even though it’s Hunter’s first time with a man, his feelings run deep. Christian has no interest in commitment, does not even understand it, and has never learned how to love someone. Christian knows Hunter wants more, but Christian is young, scared, and doesn’t even feel worthy of love. In an effort to push Hunter away, Christian crosses a line that there is no turning back from.
When their paths cross again, Christian is pulled into a power struggle between high end operatives looking to keep Hunter in his place. On the run and fighting for their lives, the men have to trust each other to survive and come to terms with the dragons they are both chasing.
The opening of the story, a dark alley with Christian on his knees, immediately sets up the characters and the attraction. The first part of the story moves at a good pace. Hunter, being over a decade older than Christian, really protects and cares for Christian as he tries to help him get clean and healthy. Christian is attracted to Hunter, but sex is just sex for him, without emotional attachments. During this first portion, the story is really character driven and seeing Hunter and Christian bond and grow to need each other in different ways was the heart of the story. When Hunter develops feelings for Christian, Christian freaks out as he has no experience with anyone wanting more from him then sex. Christian crosses a huge line that goes a long way to show how damaged he is, but some readers may have issues with what he does and will have a hard time moving on from it.
Time moves forward and the story then becomes more plot driven, but the pace of the book slows down considerably. Hunter’s business comes into play and it is so secretive it was hard to get a handle on exactly what it was for a while. There are bad guys, but at the end of the story, it was somewhat unclear if all of them were indeed bad guys or if they were part of a set-up as the big confrontation was sort of snuffed out. Hunter is an operative and one of the best in the business. Yet, when on the run, he doesn’t think of the small things like if a room is bugged and gets played a few too many times for the level of experience he is said to have. The drama of the company takes a larger focus and less is placed on getting the guys back together and it is a slow road there.
At the onset, Christian is a believable character as he has a lot to deal with and change does not happen overnight. While Christian does grow on page and the apologetic words were spoken, he never quite appears to be fully sincere or that he really gets the full impact of his actions and Hunter will forgive him anything. Hunter opens up way more than Christian does and at times it just doesn’t seem like Christian really got it. I liked both characters as they are flawed, complex, and from different worlds. But, a lot of time is spent on their chemistry in the beginning and then the story shifts to the larger plot. There is then less time with the two of them alone together and there is a lot for them to deal with as they circled around moving forward and figuring out a relationship.
This story has a bit of everything and would be a reasonable choice if you are looking for a mix of adventure, action, lust, and two guys putting it all out there for each other.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.