I promise you pain coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

Cordon Finn is a violent man. Raised by an abusive father who threatened to pimp him out when he found his son, at 8 years old, trying on his mom’s shoes, Cordon’s rage was honed by years spent in the military where he was given permission to kill and torture to his heart’s content. Now, he works alone, which isn’t as easy as books or television shows make it seem. Cordon has no team to back him up, no intel carefully gathered by some agency or another, and nothing to rely on but his own wits and skills.

When offered a very high paying job by a billionaire whose underage son, Lucas, has been charmed into a live of depravity, drugs, and sex by some aging pedophile, Cordon accepts. Perhaps too quickly. Nothing in this case is adding up, and a lot of details seem to be missing. With the help of a street-wise hustler named Gio, Cordon manages to get his hands on Lucas … who turns out to be Luscious, and Luscious is in no hurry to return home to dear old dad who, she informs Cordon while trying to claw his eyes out, wants her dead.

Everyone’s lying, but something about Luscious makes Cordon think she might be telling the truth.

This book, the first in the Cordon Finn Vengeance series, is not going to be for everyone. Cordon is very much an anti-hero, but strangely, I found this book to be almost … wholesome in its sincerity? Cordon has a strong moral compass; drugs and sex and pretty boys doing what they have to to get by is fine. Parents kicking out their kids, adults preying on these children? Death. Painful death with knives, guns, and whatever items Cordon can find to hurt them with. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a wholesome book. It’s violent, gory, and dealing with sensitive subject matter, but it’s doing it through a heavily moral lens. People are people, both good and bad, but there’s a line between having flaws and the failure to be a human being, and Cordon will kill anyone who crosses that line.

Cordon, himself, is an interesting character. He was shamed and bullied for being gay; his father — with whom he has a complex, toxic relationship even to this day — threatened to rape both Cordon’s then five-year-old sister, and then his 12-year-old son simply for the power. He made Cordon fight in street fights for money, cheering him on when he won and offering him up to the betters when it looked like Cordon might lose, either to encourage Cordon to win or just to make sure he went home with money in his pocket. And yet, raised in this hyper-masculine, abusive dynamic, Cordon can’t let go, even now. A part of him will always want his father’s recognition of Cordon as a valid threat, as someone he can no longer hurt, as someone worth being afraid of.

And Cordon so very badly wants to be free of fear. He takes the job to rescue Luscious because he wants to save someone, anyone. Most of his career was just hurting people, over and over, causing pain and humiliation for someone else’s gain. The chance to do some good, to reunite a child with their mother? To rescue them from a pedophile (who the billionaire says he can hurt as much as he wants or kill if he’d prefer)? It’s hard to say no to.

Cordon doesn’t let himself get close to anyone. Even his sister, who he very much loves, is kept at arm’s length. In part, perhaps, because he doesn’t want to control her the way the men in her life always have, or perhaps because he knows if he gets too close, brings her home to save her from her bad choices, he runs the risk of letting her see how much of a monster he is. His temper, his pleasure in causing pain, how broken he is, how ashamed of himself. This is not a romance. Cordon doesn’t, in the end, get the girl. What he gets, though, is a friend. And a chance at peace.

The writing style of this book is almost entirely tell, rather than show:

Her tears fall as Natasha cannot help but be moved by the words of the most gorgeous man she’s ever been with. Even with the often menacing aura of pain which radiates from Cordon, Natasha cannot remember any man she’s met in her life who holds a candle to Cordon’s raw sexual allure. Despite Cordon turning himself into a monument, a stone entity that allows no one but a special few to get below the craggy, gnarled surface, Natasha was drawn in by his eyes, until she felt like she was drowning in the warm, gray, churning waters on a stormy day in the Caribbean. She knew she was one of the few lucky souls who’d ever been allowed to dive into that deep ocean and survive the storm surge.

The whole book is like this, with constant asides on how big Cordon is, how intimidating, how much every man and every women wants him. Cordon himself is aware of this, often reflecting on his own prowess, his own bulk and mass, and the way he draws the eye. It’s a writing style you’ll either like, or you won’t. The blurb compares this book to the Jack Reacher series, and I will say the writing styles are very comparable. There are a few errors in the book, here and there, including a few times Luscious is referred to using male pronouns.

All in all, this is a well-executed action/adventure story featuring strong women who are more than able to take care of themselves, a broken man trying to do good, and a great deal of guns, violence, and blood. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, do give this book a try. I’m glad I did.