There is no such thing as a good secret, especially when you’re hiding from your boyfriend the fact that you almost-but-not-quite wanted to, tried to, thought about sleeping with the mysterious exchange student. The same boyfriend currently fucking you through the mattress. But, with all the grace of a six-legged foal, Elliot splutters out his indiscretion, knowing it will break Marco’s heart. What he doesn’t expect is to learn that Marco, too, spent the night of the big game with someone else. Only, he did sleep with the cheerleader; there was no maybe or almost about it. Unable to bear the pain he caused Marco, Elliot insists they break up. It’s the noble thing to do. The right thing. But … why does it hurt so much?
While the characters in this book are seniors in high school, this is in no way, shape, or form a YA book, not with the sheer amount of raw sex Elliot and Marco have. I’ll also note that is the second book in the Angels of Mercy series, and I haven’t read book one, so my review is only on this book, based entirely upon the characterization, plotting, and writing of this story. I don’t know if my review would have been different if I’d read the first book or not, but considering my issues with this book, I doubt it.
We start with Elliot, a young man in the “geek/nerd/drama” kid camp who spends his days, nights, and all the time in between thinking about, pining over, dreaming about, salivating over, and worshiping Marco, who he refers to, often, as a “young god” in his thoughts. There is very little of Elliot in his own head, very little feel for who he is as a person since he’s so busy being a worshiper at Marco’s feet. Even the moments he’s standing up for himself, being all sassy and flippant, are marred with his own questions of “Why am I acting like this? Why am I saying this?” If Elliot can’t understand, I’m certainly going to have less luck. I was never able to get a grip on Elliot, which made it hard to sympathize with him while he was wallowing in the dramatic pain of his break up with Marco. Lacking any connection to Elliot, all his tempers felt like tantrums to me, and when he and Marco finally got back together — or rather, when Marco grabbed him off the track into a supply closet and fucked him — I just didn’t care.
Marco is ridiculously rich, handsome, popular and — from what I infer — spent the previous book stalking Elliot until they finally hooked up. He’s an angry young man, often with a tight jaw and clenched fists; he’s aggressive in bed, prone to biting and leaving marks on Elliot. Marco gets his way, always, and in the moments where Elliot doesn’t agree, they both rest confident in the knowledge that what Marco wants, Marco will get because Elliot will always do what Marco wants him to do.
Much of the book (the parts that aren’t marathon sex scenes with multiple orgasms and astonishingly quick refractory periods from both young men) takes place in high school and deals with the cliques, friendships, and antipathies of the football team towards Elliot. They’re not happy Marco is gay and even less happy that Elliot is fucking him. However, we see only moments of that as the entire saga of Elliot’s existence is Marco, Marco, and Marco.
Elliot feels utterly emotionally dependent on Marco, who stalked him and now fucks him while chanting “mine, mine, mine.” Even during the sex scenes, Elliot feels removed from them, taking pleasure in Marco’s pleasure, being strangely passive and absolutely forgiving. This relationship feels glaringly uneven and unhealthy, and the author is doing a great deal of fancy footwork to make it normal and romantic. I didn’t find it romantic. I didn’t find the sex scenes all that interesting, and Marco’s constant moments of anger were alarming.
Because this is a sequel, I didn’t have the chance to get to know the characters prior to this. I had no connection with them, no understanding of how their relationship worked. My introduction to them was Elliot demanding they break up — and it carried no emotional weight. From that uneven footing, I never found my balance and never cared enough about Elliot to sympathize with his pain.
I can’t recommend this book. The writing is decent, there’s a nice little mystery set up regarding someone who may or may not be dead, but many of the plot elements are predictable and feel to me as if they’re taken from a book of standard high school tropes. The relationship between Elliot and Marco isn’t a good one. I mean, Marco pressured Elliot into making a sex tape of the two of them, using a friend of theirs that Marco knew had a crush on Elliot to film it. To rub it in the other boy’s face what Marco had and what the other boy never would. Just … no. Sorry. Look for other works by this author, but not this one.