northwest of normalRating: 3.25 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Ben is driving from college back home when he decides to take a quick nap in his car. When he wakes up in the backseat, Ben finds that his car has been stolen and the carjackers have no idea he is there. When the guys realize Ben is in the car, Randall, the rougher, older brother with the gun, decides they should keep Ben around in case they have use for them. Ben has overheard that the guys are running after Randall killed someone, so the situation is grim.

The one bright spot is Murphy, the younger brother. A few years older than Ben, Murphy is much quieter and seems to be kinder than Randall. He is also gorgeous and Ben can’t help but feel drawn to him. But Murphy is also committed to sticking with Randall, so he is willing to go along with his brother in all his decisions, even when that means kidnapping Ben, tying him up, and dragging him with them to Canada for whatever use Randall decides.

Over the course of the trip, Ben and Murphy often end up alone together. Although he won’t defy Randall, Murphy still is much kinder and Ben enjoys getting to konw him. Soon Ben isn’t so sure he wants the trip to end, as he finds himself so drawn to Murphy and would love to imagine a future for them. But Randall has other plans, plans that could put Ben in grave danger. And with Murphy determined to be there for the brother that has always looked out for him, there may be no way the guys can ever find a future together.

I was drawn to this story from the blurb — I love a good prisoner and captive story so I was intrigued by the setup here. Overall I think the writing was smooth, the story fairly easy to read, and the set up and conflict interesting. However, while the writing worked fine for me, I had a lot of issues with the story itself, which really affected my enjoyment of the book.

So like I said, I was drawn to this one from the start for the idea of the prisoner falling for his captor. Theoretically, this was a plus for me and I was fully prepared for the bit of fantasy and suspension of disbelief required to make this plot work in a romance novel. However, in execution, it didn’t work for me at all.

Things just happen way too fast. For a plot like this to work, the guys have to start out as enemies.The captive needs to be scared, to want to get away, to maybe even try to get away. Then over time the humanity of the captor can come through and change perceptions, leading to like and ultimately love. However, in this case, Ben is so focused on how attractive he finds Murphy that he is staring at his ass and wondering if his lip color matches his dick pretty much immediately. Time and again Ben avoids seemingly obvious points of potential escape because he finds Murphy nice and attractive. Not over time once Ben gets to konw him, but before he barely has any sense that Murphy is a good guy underneath.

I just kept wanting to yell at Ben to get his mind off his dick and work on saving his life. Randall has made it clear he will kill Ben and threatens him constantly. Murphy has made it clear he will not do anything to stop Randall. And Ben barely knows Murphy at all, and certainly not well enough to feel an emotional conection that would make him want to stay and go along with the kidnapping just so he can spend more time with Murphy, yet that is what he does. I just couldn’t help but think he was being a total idiot. Just because a guy is not cruel and is good looking isn’t a good enough reason to not want to get away from him and his murderous thug brother. By the time the guys reached the point in the story where their relationship development might have worked for me, I was already so annoyed with Ben that I couldn’t even get invested in them any more.

There were some other issues as well. We get very little character development beyond very broad strokes. I know that Ben loves his family and that Murphy had a horrible upbrginging and Randall protected him so now he is loyal. We barely learn much more in the way of facts about these guys, let alone their personalities. We get to know them best at the very end of the book and I wish more had come earlier. I also found things with the road trip element kind of repetitive. This is a story element I usually like, but not much is made of their adventure on the road. I also will say that despite the fact the Gomez does a good job humanizing Murphy and helping us understand where he is coming from, there is still a major conflict point that left me very cold about him. There is a point where Randall decides what to do with Ben and it is horrific. This is after a romantic connection has been developed between Ben and Murphy, yet Murphy is ready to go along with it out of allegiance to his brother. Honestly, any person who would allow somone to do this to ANYONE would sicken me, but when it is the romantic hero acting towards the man he supposedly cares for? Just no. So after that point I had trouble really feeling for Murphy, even when he redeems himself in the end. And finally, I found the ending way too tidy. No one asks questions they would be expected to ask and things just work out super neatly.

So unfortunatley, while the set up worked for me and the writing style was good, I just couldn’t deal with the story line.  Things develop so fast that I never felt any real chemistry or connection between the heroes. I found Ben absurd in his infatuation and his lack of self preservation. Instead of seeing these guys slowly fall for one another, Ben is so obsessessed with Murphy, so focused on his looks even before getting to konw what kind of person he is, that I just felt frustrated rather than being able to enjoy the romance. I think this story could work for readers who are less bothered by the speed with which things move here and are able just to go with it. Unfortnately, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I’d hoped.

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