The Love of Wicked Men was originally published as serialized fiction. The six episodes that make up the first season are now available as a box set, which I am reviewing here.
Sid Rivers is a successful, cut-throat lawyer. From a shaky beginning to now having money and power at his disposable, he is a big fish in a small pond. With no family and no use for relationships, the law is his passion. Sid’s past has made him hard and unyielding. A chance meeting puts Jack in his sights. But in the high stakes game of profit, industrial espionage, and vengeance, there is little left to chance.
Jack is a criminal set on revenge. When he meets Sid, the attraction is all encompassing, but Jack has a job to do that has been years in the making. He cannot let himself be sidetracked by an attraction to his target as that is when mistakes are made. Sid and Jack both think they have the upper hand, but there are outside forces watching their every move. When the crossfire of business keeps them in each other’s sights it will be a battle to see who comes out on top.
This is a story where you can leave reality right at page one and the first order of recognition goes to Brandon Shire for being the master manipulator. He saw the whole picture from the start and moved the characters around as players in a high stakes drama, complete with action, deception, and a sexually charged atmosphere.
The plot of this series is difficult to discuss without everything being a spoiler. So let’s start with Sid. Likable? Well, not so much most of the time. Sid is all about profit and all about what works to his best advantage and if he needs to teeter on the edges of ethics, so be it. His designer clothes and expensive car are his shields to the world. As the episodes progress, the layers of Sid are very slowly revealed and there is a moment that his edges are not so sharp, but it’s short lived indeed. He comes off as a shark and, while he can be intelligent and cunning, he doesn’t often look at the big picture, is more insecure then he will admit to, and is blinded by dollar signs, which may ultimately be his downfall.
Now Jack was a bit easier to like. Oh, he’s a high stakes career criminal that is first presented as a common street thug, but Jack hides a bit of compassion underneath that tough exterior for a few select individuals. If you are used to reading, or even watching, dramatic legal dramas that thrive on intrigue you will be aware that nothing is as it seems and everything and perhaps everyone is connected. I was expecting this so a good portion of the intrigue and deception did not come as a surprise to me, but it was all incredibly well executed.
The individual chapters are shorter in length, which has the scenes moving rapidly from one to the next. The series ebbs and flows with action that moves faster and finer details that move slower. Some of Sid’s legal discussions did slow things down for me. For as much as they spoke to the overall picture, they lacked immediacy and became tedious to read through in a few scenes.
In addition to the many plot points being handled at once, there are also scene stealing secondary characters. Sid and Jack circle each other throughout the book, but the men have healthy sexual appetites and do not limit themselves to just one partner. The attraction continually crackles between them and they both think they are in charge until the upper hand is taken in a unique and explosive manner.
This series is extremely difficult to put down once you start it. It’s direct and exposed, while at the same time being secretive. It’s violent, wicked, and hard hitting while adding just a spark of tenderness to momentarily soften the edges. At the end of the book Shire asks readers if they think there should be a second season. My thought was that it was a trick question–because season two? But of course!