Xavier makes a lot of people nervous. The rest, he flat-out scares. More than his hulking, tattooed body, it’s his predator’s gaze that makes people feel vulnerable, as if he had the power to read their thoughts and see their soul. For his lovers, it’s Xavier’s ravenous appetite for all things carnal—for the taste of flesh under his tongue and the feel of a trembling body under his control, for whispered pleas and muffled cries—that makes him dangerous.
But recently, driven by a festering rage against the men who attacked his sister a decade ago, Xavier has developed a taste for a different kind of hunt and conquest: stalking men who do truly bad things and punishing the predators he sniffs out. The problem with vigilante justice, though, is sometimes the man in your trap is innocent.
Carson suspects he’s playing a risky game with dangerous men. But the lies are convincing, especially when they’re slipped to him among hundred dollar bills. He never guessed how big and dark the secret hidden under all the lies and money could be. And he has no idea he’s not the predator, but the prey, until it’s too late.
And you can’t beg for mercy when there’s a gag in your mouth.
But when Carson escapes from Xavier’s trap, he’s forced to accept that Xavier is far from his most dangerous enemy. Xavier may even hold the key to overcoming the painful past that has kept Carson prisoner for almost two decades.
The above is the published blurb for Bad Things. Generally, here at the blog we provide our own overview of the books in our reviews, but the author did an incredible job with this one so I decided to use it instead.
Bad Things falls into the universe of one of the author’s previous books, Dangerously Happy. While it is not a direct sequel, the MC in Bad Things, Xavier, is introduced in that book. There is also a plot line referred to here, as well as scenes with Dario and Aidan ,the MCs from the first book. It will certainly enhance the experience of Bad Things to have read Dangerously Happy, for the connection to the MCs alone. When Dario and Aidan appear, the tone of the book seamlessly changes. Seeing them again was like visiting with the most favorite of friends and we get to live inside their world again, listen to their language of smiles, and I can read page after page after page of Dario and Aidan.
Bad Things is a perfectly and appropriately titled book as Xavier does do bad things–very bad things. So, the question is whether it is possible to like a character that admittedly does such bad things. It’s a tough balance to achieve and Krylov does a stunning job. It’s Carson that tips the scales in Xavier’s favor because if he can see the good in Xavier, that is what makes all of the difference. But perhaps I should back up.
Xavier and Carson meet while working at a club. Carson is a bartender and Xavier is working as a bouncer while doing his own undercover work. Ever since Xavier’s sister was raped almost a decade ago, Xavier works his own kind of vigilante justice and is convinced the club is a front for sexual crimes against women. There are various rapes described throughout the story that have all happened in the past. When Carson gets in over his head with the club owners and in turn gets caught by Xavier, Xavier sets out to show Carson exactly who he is dealing with.
This starts out as Xavier’s story within the plot line of the club. It then becomes a character study of Xavier and Carson both separately and together. The story, like any true journey, wanders along a twisted path. What’s remarkable is that it all fits together in the same book. There is a lot of sex in the story. Xavier and Carson communicate through sex as they both have all kinds of demons slithering along inside of them. But, here’s the interesting thing. Each sex scene, while ramping up the very erotic nature of the story, moves the story along, moves the characters along, as it opens them up, breaks them down, and then builds them back up again, as they examine desires that may lie beyond their own moral boundaries.
Xavier lives in a dark place and he takes Carson and us along with him. His actions at times are entirely questionable, as his version of vigilante justice reeks at times of dubious consent, living outside of the law, and will have your moral compass spinning. But in the midst of it all, Xavier sees something in Carson that he needs to fix, that’s also what he does. What Xavier never expects is for Carson to be able to touch what is broken inside of Xavier and then long to attach himself to it.
Carson’s story goes back to his childhood and there are layers upon layers of shame, utter sadness, guilt, and denial that cause him to just basically coast through life as best as he can. While his childhood issues are clear and are handled with a deft hand, I would have liked to have been invited to a scene as Carson was a bit older as he left home. And, as there is mention of undercover agents having been discovered through the club organization and meeting with a violent end, Xavier and Carson seemingly have fewer issues of infiltrating the club hierarchy without trying all that hard, especially Carson.
Varian Krylov is an extremely unique and talented writer. The perfect choice of words as well as their delivery leave magic in their wake, even with dark, raw, and intense subject matter. This is the reason to read. The characters and the scenes are clear, visual, pull you directly into the moment, and lend themselves to a hypnotic pace. Start with the lyrical love story of Dangerously Happy and then move on to Bad Things for vengeance, forgiveness, and love all swirled together.