Zander just gets through each day now. He has his job as the manager of The Den, and has his co-workers who have become his friends as family, but he will not allow himself to have a relationship. Zander had his one true love, Kaden, and now that he’s gone, the guilt and pain can threaten to overtake Zander at any moment and he walks a fine line between depression and keeping himself one step above it. When Zander sees Kai dancing at a club, he’s attracted to him like he hasn’t been attracted to anyone since Kaden. Zander is all in for one night with Kai, but when he finds himself wanting more nights with him, Zander knows he’s too broken by his past to be what Kai needs.
Kai has a lot going on. He’s going to college, but he’s a dancer and stars in a webcam show to pay the bills, and there are a lot of bills. He doesn’t date men he meets while dancing, but Zander takes his breath away and their chemistry is amazing. Except, Zander is having a hard time truly letting Kai in and Kai is determined to show Zander that he can honor the past and still move toward a future.
Breaking Free adds a third book to The Den Boys series. I enjoy reading a series in order and having the connection when other storylines or characters are revisited. This book can mostly stand on its own as the storyline is new to the series, while still getting appearances from the other characters to keep the framework of the series intact.
One of the strengths of this author is the chemistry she writes between characters and Zander and Kai are high on that scale. It’s one of those meetings where neither guy was supposed to be there, but when they see each other, it’s impossible for them to look away. It does not go into love at first sight territory, but it perfectly executes meeting someone and immediately wanting to take them home and Kai and Zander are electric from the start.
The character descriptions and their surroundings are visual and well described and it’s easy to fall into the story and the setting. Zander carries a tremendous amount of guilt tied to losing his boyfriend. He has barely recovered from the trauma of it all and keeps people at a distance. There is a constant sadness pressing down on him and while he’s had many hookups over the years, he feels his penance should be to live a life alone.
Kai is a bright spot in Zander’s otherwise dark world. Due to circumstances, he had to take a break from college and while he’s back in school currently, there is a family debt. Kai has no issue with working hard, but some days it’s all more than a little exhausting. He splits his time between go-go dancing, his solo webcam show, and school. What I liked about the way Brennan presented this was that nothing was a secret here and there was no shame. Zander meets Kai while he’s dancing so he learns about that right up front. While it does take him a longer to learn about the cam shows, the guys talk about it and it’s another part of Kai that turns Zander on.
The guys get together physically early on in the book, but then dial it back a little to get to know each other better, which made for a good balance. One of the main issues here is Zander’s fear of having another relationship and it’s tied into losing Kaden and then the aftermath that has certainly left their scars on him. He pushes Kai away at times with no explanation, but since the book is told in alternating first person POV, we get to know what is going on with both guys, which enables us to get to know both of them well. The pace near the middle did slow down for me and there were times that they were going around in a loop, but mostly I was well and fully into their story.
The only area that wasn’t for me was the stalker storyline. I am not interested at all in stalker storylines for many reasons, but mostly it’s because they never seem to come together well, and here was another example. Kai is getting threatening texts and phone calls throughout most of the book and of course he tells no one. We are reminded of this a few times, but it’s kept on the back burner until well into the story. The confrontation happened in one scene and there were too many holes for it to pull together for me. While I may understand what the author wanted the characters to get from this subplot, it had such little page time that it could have easily been left out and still had a cohesive story.
The chemistry between Kai and Zander was the highlight here along with the bonus of seeing previous MCs. There is another book scheduled in this series as well and it’s one series I look forward to each time a new book is released.