Killian Frost is surprised when Colton Dècarie shows up on his doorstep asking for a favor. Colton is a shapeshifter, a deadly enemy to a werewolf like Killian. Although their families have agreed upon a truce, the two men don’t exactly socialize. Killian is even more shocked when he hears Colton’s request: he wants Killian to kill him.
Killian has no idea why Colton would ask such a thing and certainly isn’t going to agree without knowing what is really going on. So on a whim he tells Colton he will consider the request if Colton gives him one night in his bed. Never expecting the man to agree, Killian is pleased when the alluring shifter accepts his proposal. Even though their kind are mortal enemies, somehow Killian and Colton just fit together. Colton thrives on the submission Killian demands and revels in the aggression that Killian loves to dish out. They are the perfect match in bed, and soon find more between them than just sex.
As the men grow closer, Killian demands to understand just why Colton wants to die. As it turns out, dark forces are brewing among the shifters and Colton is in the middle of it. His family is at risk and he knows the only way to end it all is to sacrifice himself. But Killian has now claimed Colton as his own and has no intention of letting his beautiful shifter die. Killian is determined to find another way that will let Colton out of the clutches of evil and still return back where he belongs in Killian’s arms. But the enemy is very strong and Killian and Colton’s chances of survival are slim. The men must fight against the evil forces that threaten so that they can have a future together.
This is one of those books about which I have heard tons of good things, but never had a chance to read. So I decided to give it a shot for a Throwback Thursday review and I am really glad I did. A Thread of Deepest Black is a really interesting take on the shifter world, filled with a lot of depth and complexity, and some definite dark undertones.
The world Marlowe has created sees shifters and werewolves as deadly enemies. The wolves are children of the moon, hunting humans to steal their souls. And the shifters are of the light, hunting the wolves in return for their actions against humans. But Colton’s and Killian’s families have formed a truce, keeping them from harming one another, and Killian does not kill or hunt humans. So they are definitely enemies, but there is an uneasy peace. A peace that would be threatened if anyone knew what Colton was asking of Killian, or even if they knew that the men were together as friends, let alone lovers. I found this a really clever and unique set up and I like the way Marlowe has these two types of creatures at odds with one another, with many similarities, but also differences in their abilities and their ways of life.
Just as their inner animals are creatures of dark and light, Marlowe plays with these ideas for the men themselves. Colton is blond and sweet, and while not exactly an innocent, definitely a gentler, kinder man than Killian, despite his incredible power. He has been pushed into doing things he hates by a Council that is corrupt and it is killing him, this thing he has become. Killian, on the other hand, is a child of the moon. He is dark and aggressive, possessive and hard. He enjoys power, especially when wielded over his beautiful golden shifter. There is a really interesting dynamic between them. I have labeled this book BDSM, although it doesn’t totally fit the traditional mold. But there is a definitely element of dominance and submission here, a need in Killian to claim and in Colton to submit. We also see Killian help Colton work through his emotional pain, seeking penance for the evil things he has done in the Council’s name and freeing himself up emotionally after Killian helps him open up and release it all through pain and punishment. It is a really fascinating dynamic between them and I enjoyed it a lot. Killian isn’t always easy to love, but it is also so clear how much he cares about Colton and how hard he tries to rein in his baser impulses to protect and love Colton.
I will point out that the first time these guys are together, there are definitely some elements of coercion going on. While Killian doesn’t force Colton into having sex, he is bargaining with him, dangling the promise of giving in to Colton’s desire for death if Colton will sleep with him. Colton definitely doesn’t want to do it at first, and although ultimately it is a night both men greatly enjoy, I wouldn’t say it is totally consensual. I think it works with the dynamic between the men, and really sets up their future relationship. But I did want to point out that there are definitely some tones of dubious consent here early on for those for whom this is an issue.
I think where this book stumbled a little for me is just in the complexity. I’ll be honest, there was a lot that I didn’t fully understand. The story starts off with a little jump in time, then we move back to see the original conversation between Killian and Colton. So right from the start we are a little off kilter trying to catch up with what is going on. Then a lot of Colton’s motivation is slowly unveiled as he builds up enough trust to share his secrets with Killian, which I think makes sense. But I’ll admit, I didn’t always totally understand the politics, the machinations of the Council and what they were trying to achieve. I found the Prince of the shape shifters confusing; I didn’t quite “get” him or his role and kept expecting more to come out of that plot line. It also took me a while to really understand shifters versus werewolves and why they were fighting. Most of these issues resolved themselves over time, though not all, but I just never totally felt like I was “getting” it all. There were also quite a few times where the language drifts between the metaphorical and the literal and sometimes I honestly was confused — were those real thorns, or metaphorical ones? I don’t mean to sound like this was convoluted or anything, because it definitely is not. And I was able to keep up and definitely enjoy the story. But I did find the style a little hard to follow at times and I am not sure I got everything out of it I was quite supposed to.
Despite that I really enjoyed this one and I am so glad I went back and read it. I loved Killian and Colton together and found their relationship so fascinating. I loved to see both these men grow and open up as the story progressed. I am a fan of the big growlers and Killian has just that perfect amount of possessive “mine” about him. I loved to see how the big, strong Colton was willing to submit to Killian, and in fact needed that. And I loved the way the two bicker and banter and push one another, yet you can still see the love shining through. Marlowe gives us a really creative world here and a story I really enjoyed.