Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Working as a solider for ENAD (Enforced Necessary Arms Division) is the only life Jones has ever known. He is highly trained and skilled and protects the state along with his team on dangerous and dirty missions.
Seven years ago, Jones fell hard for Carver. Their relationship was sex based and solely on Carver’s terms when he would slide into Jones’ bed in the dark of night. The team was then disbanded without warning and Jones has been on his own living in a dying city, moving from one assignment to the next, seeking his next pill to take the edge off.
When the team is called back to ENAD, Jones and Carver meet again and Jones longs for affection that the stone faced and cold hearted Carver can never give him. Protecting each other on missions, Jones finds himself in the midst of a political war he had no idea was going on or that he was helping to fight. When a mission sets him up, Jones is faced with the ultimate betrayal of his heart and body.
What a ride! Set in a technology-driven world with humans, cyborgs, bots, and a whole manner of personal upgrades, this dark, gritty world has a bit of everything.
Jones knows what he is and how the soldiers are looked upon and treated. As he describes them, “The state treated us like dogs, which we were. We were Rottweilers, starved and half-deranged, waiting for someone to let us off our leashes….I knew I was a dog to them, but at least I felt like a pet.” Just having food and some place to sleep is all Jones can hope to expect out of life.
The world building is fairly complete with a sense of the dying city they live in, what personal enhancements are available, co-existing with cyborgs, and the political unrest. We can smoothly follow along what is going on with the government as it’s explained in a concise, clear manner, although the situation has layers of complications. The only area missing for me is how far into the future we are, what specific location the story is taking place in, and how the cyber beings come to be a part of the every day world. (I like all those kinds of details.)
The heart of the story is Jones. Told through his eyes, he has no reason to think anything is not as it seems and he has a morality just below the surface that other soldiers don’t have, especially Carver. What makes the ride so full of adrenaline is that we see everything as Jones does and unravel it as he does, and of course nothing is as it seems.
The sexual relationship between Jones and Carver, while consensual, is gritty, unconventional, and raw, with even a bit of table turning gun play (that is all kinds of awesome on so many levels). There are just layers of emotion that are being suppressed and just below that surface there is love just trying to find a home.
The payoff at the end is so worth it and Jones says it perfectly, “I’d been beaten, battered, bruised, and maimed, had my heart torn out from my chest, just to have Carver shove it back in again.” And the ending has all of us looking for part two. Even if you don’t read sci-fi often (like myself) read this book.