KAGE marks the first book in the KAGE trilogy. The book is told solely from Jamie’s first person point of view, which allows intimate access to his thoughts. Jamie is a junior in college, has a good looking girlfriend, and is one of those guys where it seems everything comes easy for him, but his professor tells him he is capable of so much more. For a school project, Jamie secures a press pass to the MMA tournament where he meets Michael Kage.
Kage is an underground fighter trying to make a name for himself. He is charming, strong, talented, gorgeous, and Jamie is drawn to him immediately. Kage also has a darkness that surrounds him and he can be downright dangerous if provoked. To get to the next level in his career, Kage needs a publicist, and that’s where Jamie is headed as he is hired for a summer internship with Kage in Las Vegas.
The pull between the men is intense and Jamie finds himself completely in awe of Kage. But, there is a lot lurking behind Kage’s tough exterior and if Jamie wants him, he has to accept all of him. When Kage makes it clear that what he wants is Jamie, will Jamie be able to change his entire life to have a public relationship with Kage?
This book is a slow build and a wild ride all at the same time. It is a difficult book to evaluate since as part of a trilogy it is largely incomplete. We get to know Jamie’s thoughts and feelings immediately and continually throughout the book. He is well liked and life just works out well for him. His professors like him and his cheerleader girlfriend completes the picture. His relationship with his girlfriend is mostly about sex, but something is missing and Jamie isn’t even sure what it is. There are certain allowances that have to be made upfront, such as Jamie being able to secure a backstage press pass hours before a sporting event, but okay we move on quickly from there.
The internship itself is questionable at first as Jamie is hired by Kage’s uncle, whom Jamie has never met and has some mysterious control over Kage. Jamie is then left to his own devices as far as building up Kage’s online status and presence.
The book excels with the sexual tension between Jamie and Kage and it is an excruciatingly slow burn to get these guys together. They spend time together as Kage trains and Jamie works on getting Kage exposure. Kage is extremely careful with his diet so he can be in the best shape possible, yet drinking and getting high remains on the menu which was a large contradiction. There is a substantial element of mystery surrounding Kage with regards to his uncle, his training, certain areas of his health, and really his entire life in general. It’s just not his story yet.
The relationship between Jamie and Kage is increasingly complicated and the story line really takes off when the men get together physically. Jamie has never been with a man, yet he wants nothing more than to be with Kage and their time together is intense, primal, and so very hot. It’s one of those scenes that stands out within the genre. As for Kage, his desire and need for Jamie is clear, but the men talk about very little.
While the physical relationship was indeed something to read, they do not discuss their relationship as a whole or how it will be handled in public. Kage wants to demand everything from Jamie, knows Jamie has never been with a man, and yet offers little disclosure in return. When Kage meets Jamie’s family, it is for a specific reason and there are a lot of issues and dynamics at play all at the same time. This is where the lack of communication really does the damage. Since we only get Jamie’s view, in some ways it was clear how Kage felt, but in other ways Kage came off as largely throwing a temper tantrum given the circumstances.
But, I am reserving judgment on that and other issues as well, since their story is not finished as is evident by the three words, “To be continued,” and it’s a hell of a cliffhanger. The book is not perfect mainly because the story is incomplete. It does offer a tremendous start to what is a heated, intense, and volatile relationship between Jamie and Kage and I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment in August.