Archer Hart is a hitman. He has been at it for years, first for the government and now as a private killer for hire. Archer is ready for retirement, however. He knows his heart and his head are not in it anymore. And when he is shot at just after making his final hit, Archer knows for sure the time has come to get out. But now someone wants him dead.
When barrister Conrad Black is hit by a car, leaving him hospitalized, no one believes him that the driver was aiming right for him. Months after the accident he is still recuperating, finally able to walk again but just barely. He has rented a house on the coast for some quiet recovery, though he is mostly miserable and depressed, especially since he is still not over a breakup. When Conrad sees Archer drowning in the sea, knocked out by his surf board, Conrad doesn’t hesitate to go in to help, even though he is barely walking himself.
Archer knows his life in is danger and being around Conrad is only going to put Conrad in danger as well. But somehow he finds himself sticking around Conrad’s cabin long after he should have left. The guys who want Archer dead are powerful and clever and he must stay one step ahead if he has any hope of survival. But the part of him that is ready to retire and live a normal life craves Conrad, even though he knows just being around the man is putting him at risk. The two men are both alpha, toppy guys used to being in charge. The aggression and dominance they share turns them both on, especially when they each learn to let go just enough to make things actually work between them.
But even as Conrad and Archer are opening themselves up to the idea that there could be more for them, the people who want them dead aren’t stopping. Despite the police refusing to believe it was more than an accident, further investigation makes it clear that someone really did try to kill Conrad with that car, and they have not yet given up. And Archer’s life continues to be in danger, even as he tries to track down just who wants him dead and why. The guys are on the run together, desperately trying to stay on step ahead of the bad guys, even as they know one wrong move could end it all for them. But just maybe if they can stop the people who want them dead, Conrad and Archer can have a future together.
Breaking is a high speed, romantic suspense that kept me flipping pages frantically. Right from the start we are in the action as we follow Archer through his final job, only to see him become the next intended victim. It is fascinating to watch his mind work as he makes his escape, loses his tails, gets rid of his equipment, and just disappears. Elsborg really manages to capture all those details that set your pulse racing and make their adventures seem so real. Just the little moments, like when the guys evade a tail on the train, or how they find a safe place to stay for the night, are done so perfectly you are put right in the middle of the action. The book is just so exciting with clever twists and turns and the suspense continues throughout the book.
We have two really interesting heroes in Archer and Conrad. First, you have one man who is a criminal and one who makes his living upholding the law. But beyond that, these are two men who are similarly dominant and in need of control. They are both exclusive tops, both who are used to being in charge, and at first they are at odds with one another because neither wants to give in. Not only does it make for a lot of heat between these guys, but I also loved watching them both come to accept that other side of themselves, the part that is willing to be open to someone they trust. It is hard for both of them, Archer especially, to trust and become vulnerable to someone. But is very rewarding to see them get to that place where they can let down their walls and open up.
This story is the second in Elsborg’s Fall or Break series and follows Falling, which features Conrad’s ex-boyfriend Malachi. These stories are an interesting match in that despite the connection between characters, the tone is very different in the two books. Falling is so much a character driven story and not a thriller at all. I loved it, but was surprised to see such a shift in the tone of this second book. If you read Elsborg’s excellent Every Move He Makes, I would say this story is much more similar in style to that than to the first book in this series. So just be prepared if you read the first book that this one has a very different feel.
The only real issue I had here is with Conrad’s relationship with Mal. At the start of the book he is still mourning that lost relationship, and we know from the first book that Conrad made lots of mistakes that lead to his breakup. In fact, Mal is pretty scarred by that relationship and Conrad doesn’t come across particularly well in that first book. I love a good villain redeemed (although Conrad never falls fully into villain territory), so I enjoyed seeing the other side of things here. But I feel like a lot of time is spent with Conrad thinking back to his relationship with Mal, but never really illuminating it. He thinks about him a lot, but we never learn much about where Conrad was coming from at that point, why he behaved like he did, how he has changed, etc. I feel like we either needed to hear a lot less about that relationship, or a lot more. But as it was we are in this kind of limbo where he thinks about Mal a lot, but we don’t really learn much. All that said, I think you can read this story as a standalone just fine. You only really need to know that the guys dated for seven years and things ended badly due to Conrad’s controlling nature.
So I really loved this story and found it really fun and exciting. I love a good thriller and this story has a great spy element running through it as well. It is suspenseful and thrilling, but also very clever and I was very entertained throughout the book. Add in two really great heroes and Breaking is overall an excellent book.