Happily retired from his life as a detective, Gavin DeGrassi is thrown back in head first when his ex-partner/sister-in-law is kidnapped. Awakened by a phone call from his brother, Gavin and his shrink boyfriend Ben immediately head for the police station. There the discover Myah’s abduction on video tape. Her captor then fled and was seen later boarding a plane to Chicago, the city Myah was forced to leave years ago because of dirty cops. Chances are Myah has crossed state lines and if that’s the case, the case will be tied up in politics that will take far longer to deal with than actually finding her. Determined to keep his family together and safe, Gavin devises a plan and, with the St. Louis captain’s tentative approval, leaves for Chicago to start his own investigation into whoever took Myah.
When his investigation leads him to two of Myah’s ex-partners, both with something to hide and both who come up dead, Ben knows he’s on to something. Eventually the Chicago PD figures out Gavin isn’t exactly who he says he is and he’s lucky all they ask is that he leaves quietly. A trail leading to pimps, drug dealers, and shady Doms takes Gavin and Ben down a road they never expected to walk, putting them both in the path of danger. As the case takes an unexpected turn, Gavin, Ben, and Gavin’s brother Cole are forced to make a choice—ask the department that turned their backs on Myah for help or go in alone. Either way, there’s no evidence saying Myah is alive. They only have each other as they cross their fingers and hope for the best.
This is going to be a difficult review to write because it was a very difficult book to read. The thing is I absolutely love this series with a passion. I fell hard for Ben and Gavin a long time ago, so I’ve been looking forward to this book forever. In fact, after I finished Safeword I emailed the author and practically begged for a third book, at which point I was told there would probably not be a third. Imagine my surprise and excitement to learn of Consent. Okay, that being said, there are things I absolutely loved about this book, things that were just okay, and things I abhorred to the point of nausea. I struggled over a period of days reading this book and that’s not like me, especially with this author. So let me explain why.
Let’s begin with what I loved. Gavin and Ben. These guys are reason enough to read the series, so if you haven’t picked up the first two books, I’d suggest doing so. The former power struggle has found balance and is now perfection in their relationship. Geez, they are so damn sexy. And just when you think there’s no growth to be had for them, we see just a tad. No, I’m not talking about the ménage—we’ll get to that—I’m talking about trust issues and double standards. I wouldn’t say they have a long way to go, very short, in fact, but still it’s growth. They’re solid in this story. Finally. Ben still has issues showing what he considers weakness to Gavin and Gavin still has issues vocalizing his stress, but they work it out. It’s classic Ben and Gavin.
Okay. So, that’s my love for this book. All of it. Sorry. Next comes the “just okay” part. This series has always been one hundred percent about Gavin and Ben with a suspense/mystery subplot/side story, which I’ve always loved. The romance has always been the focus. Not so much with Consent. In this book, the romance takes a back seat to the mystery. I felt like Myah, Cole, Marshall, and Brady took up most of this story. They were the focus and Ben and Gavin were just the tools used to sift through the mess to the four back to safety and happiness.
Okay, now to the threesome heard ‘round the social media world. This scene was a teaser before the book even came out and after the drama that surrounded it, I worried about how it would be handled. Let me start by saying, ohmigod, it was seriously hot. Like, seriously, scorchingly fucking hot. But—and yes there is a but—where it did actually add to the plot believe it or not, it felt like it was there to lend credence to a romance plot that not up to par.
Finally, to the part I’d rather forget. I want to start by saying I have no issues with rape or abuse to advance a plot in a story. That being said, I had the hardest time with the scenes in this book for several reasons. It started with the fact that Myah is a character that I know and love, have known and loved for years, so seeing her hurt is devastating. My issue is not with the rape, but the fact that it’s basically there for the shock value. In my opinion, raping Myah wasn’t meant to break her. She was already broken and weak from the heroin they forced into her. And then it happens over and over and over and over—when I say I was nauseated, I am not exaggerating. I came to a realization as I was reading the first scene. Every book I’ve read from this author, whom I adore mind you, has had some sort of graphic rape or abuse scene, but this one—Myah—was too much. Way too much. And it wasn’t just one scene. It happened again and again, to the point that I was skimming her chapters so that I would catch only the pertinent information but I could skip the ever increasing brutality.
There’s so much loss in this book and I won’t give away the biggest shocker of all, but I was heartbroken. Another good thing I can say for this story and author is that the writing, no matter my issues with content, is phenomenal. If it weren’t for the senseless rape scenes, I’d have really liked the story, and it certainly wouldn’t have taken me a week to read it.
I wanted so badly to love this book. Gah! I’ve waited for it forever, and there were some parts that I absolutely loved, some I just liked, and then some I couldn’t stomach. Which is where the rating came from. At times I wanted to give it a one star, but I couldn’t justify it because of the parts that are so good. And then there are those parts that would make this book a four or five star if not for the parts I couldn’t handle. So I had to come to a compromise. I’m not sure how much it’ll help in the end. My whole being is hurt and broken for what happened in this book. Unfortunately, this is not a book I’m going to recommend.