Gideon is a man destined to repeat his mistakes. He will be reborn once a century to kill those put in his path. What Gideon doesn’t know is that he is a Black Knight, sworn emissary of Moriel, and an assassin/antihero of the first order. Gideon can only break his contract with Moriel if he pardons his mortal enemy; in his case, it’s always the Golden Boy, a fair-skinned, fair-haired younger man that stokes Gideon’s lust, even as he disrupts Gideon’s plans.
Michael Mathison is a man bent on revenge. His beloved, Christopher, was wooed away a decade ago to move in with young Gideon Marbury. Three weeks later, Christopher, a man deathly afraid of heights, leapt to his death from a five-story balcony. Recently, Michael was struck by the news of Gideon’s elder brother, Richard, the Duke of Marbury, who died suddenly of an allergic reaction while inspecting his land. Michael knew Richard as a conscientious and careful man when they attended Eton together. Gideon stood to inherit a fortune in land if Richard was out of the way. Coincidence? Michael thinks not.
Michael’s so determined to catch Gideon out that he engineers a car wreck that ultimately costs Gideon his license. Still incensed, Michael applies to be a driver for the new Duke, and that’s when it gets real. Michael is stupefied by Gideon’s good looks and suave demeanor. No matter how deep he digs, he can’t seem to unearth any dirt on Gideon. As his driver, however, he soon realizes that Gideon is not the upstanding member of the peerage he projects. No, this sociopath is a studied killer, but why? And for whom?
We get Gideon’s point of view, so we know whom he’s contracting with, but Michael doesn’t get it, at first. Soon, however, Michael’s life is on the line—is it Gideon plotting against him? Or, someone else? Also, Gideon’s mad attracted to his sexy driver. Their shenanigans soon escalate into physical intimacy. For me, this came pretty soon. Michael’s spent the last decade hating Gideon, but he’s able to rage sex the man after a few days? I had a little trouble with that, considering the short time frame of this liaison. Further, the flirtation was really overt. I’d expect a man of Gideon’s station and questionable activities to be a bit more circumspect.
That said, the unraveling mystery of Christopher’s tragic death and Richard’s actual murder becomes the biggest part of the story. Gideon and Michael become unwilling allies in the search for justice, and that strengthens their bond. This I did like, especially as I could see Gideon shifting from a cold-blooded killer to man who acknowledged his frailties and asked for help, for affection. It was a touch convenient for me, but I did enjoy the shift. It’s hard to enjoy a despicable character, and that word truly defines Gideon, in this incarnation. His homicidal tendencies arise early in childhood, and his systematic studies in death are chilling to say the least.
Regardless, it seems this tenuous connection with Michael may be the salvation of Gideon’s soul from the grips of Moriel. There are definite moments where the supernatural creeps into the script, but only in quiet ways. We don’t see any apparitions or visitations in the contemporary setting, though we understand it happens once Gideon blows his opportunity, yet again.
For Michael and Gideon the mysteries surrounding the new crop of deaths in and around the Marbury estate are problematic, and tragic. Michael is a detail-oriented man, and he determines the culprit quickly. That doesn’t mean the resolution is easy, however. There’s lots of conflict, and a bit of loving. The mystery is interesting, and its solution is compelling. Expect bloodshed, more than one attempt to kill Gideon, some really intense sexytimes, and family ties that bind people far too close for comfort. I liked the story, even if the premise wasn’t quite as clear from the blurb. There’s a *bit* of magic here, but it’s unobtrusive. The book is a set up for other Black Knights books, so I’m expecting more stories, though it’s not clear if there’s overlapping characters. The way this one ended, I just can’t imagine it to be that way.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.