spark of wrath coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Tomás is a professional baseball player facing a health condition that will end his career and change his life. Tomás is angry at the unfairness of it all, angry that life as he knows it is changing — and angry that his friends and teammates are going to continue on living the life that he had imagined for himself. Tomás needs an outlet for that anger and goes to the Carnal Tower where he hires Wrath, one of the Sins, for the night. The two form a surprising connection that continues when they encounter each other again the next day. But when Tomás’ health takes a turn for the worse, he cuts off Flint (aka Wrath) and refuses to see or speak to him.

Flint knows he should be over Tomás. He barely knew the man and it has been three years without contact. Even as Flint’s brother and some of the other Sins have found happiness with a partner, Flint knows he is the kind of man who will always be alone. But when Tomás suddenly contacts him out of the blue, Flint also knows he can’t deny himself the chance to see the man again.

Tomás has been in love with his best friend, Luke, for years, but he put distance between them when his health declined. Tomás is finally in a place where he feels more solid and now he would love to have both Luke and Flint back in his life. He loves Luke, but he can’t deny he still hasn’t been able to get Flint out of his mind either. Tomás knows there is room in his heart for both men, and he can’t help but hope that Luke and Flint will fall for each other as well.

The three men find a strong connection, but things aren’t all smooth between them. Flint and Luke are still angry that Tomás cut them out of his life for so long, even as they understand his reasons. And Tomás is very much changed from the person he was there years ago, and while he knows the men care about him, he can’t help but wonder if he can still give them what they need. For Flint, he isn’t sure he has the strength to fully open himself up to a relationship, fearful of rejection and worried that he is not worthy of this kind of happiness. Tomás, Flint, and Luke have found an intense connection together and their chance at happiness is so close. But all three men have to find a way to work through their fears and frustrations if they will be able to move forward into a life together.

Spark of Wrath is the fourth book in E.M. Lindsey’s excellent Carnal Tower series. The books follow a group of men who work as the “Sins” in a brothel and there is very much a found family vibe among them. While this story stands mostly alone from a relationship end, Flint is a recurring character in prior books and we do hear bits about Tomás along the way. We also got Flint’s brother Stone’s story in Shades of Lust, which provides a little more context to their childhood and relationship with each other. All of which is to say that you could read this as a standalone, but I think the context will be richer if you are familiar with the series.

This one is a bit tricky to review without explaining just what happens to Tomás, but as the blurb doesn’t spell it out, I am going to keep details behind a spoiler tag. Tomás was a baseball prodigy with a bright future ahead of him, until a tragic accident and a resulting health complication changed his life dramatically. The first portion of the book opens as Tomás is in the midst of the situation, but before it becomes clear just how serious it will all be.

Spoiler title
Tomás gets hit by a ball, which causes a near paralysis of both arms. However, the resulting blood clots mean he has to have both arms amputated in order to save his life.
Lindsey walks that line of allowing us to feel for him and the loss he experiences, but never making Tomás an object of pity. I could understand why he decided to step away from the men, even as it is not what either Flint or Luke would have wanted. There is so much great detail here to really help the reader understand what Tomás is experiencing, not just in how his life is affected, but how he has grown to thrive in a way he could never have imagined in the early days. The problem for Tomás is not just the anger he still feels in many ways, but also that he doesn’t quite have the confidence to fully believe he is needed and wanted by Luke and Flint.

The story is told in POVs from all three men and it gives us a great insight into how they are all feeling as they build this new relationship. While we do get into Luke’s head, I didn’t feel like we get to know him nearly as well as the other two men. But there is a nice balance here in the way the dynamics are presented so that even though Luke and Tomás are best friends and have a connection for longer, the relationships really feel like they are building together among all three of them. These guys are hot and so intense together, even during the more difficult moments. The heat and the feelings come quickly for the three of them, but it takes some time for them to sort out their emotions and find a way to make it all work.

We do get to learn a little more about Flint and Stone’s upbringing here, including meeting a younger brother. This is a nice side plot, as we know Flint has worried about his siblings and it gives him a chance to show that support for his brother when he is in need. Things don’t fully resolve here, but I’m wondering if we are getting a book for Onyx and that is why we don’t get full closer to the family side of the story.

As a quick side note, this book takes place in the same world as Lindsey’s Hit and Run series. Tomás and Luke are part of the Denver Vikings baseball team and we get passing mention of some of their teammates here, including James and Pietro. Also, if you read that series, you may remember Luke and Tomás being mentioned at various points. Tomás also works for Hudson’s accessible sex toy company from Nothing to Lose. However, these are just callbacks to the other books and you definitely don’t need to have read them to enjoy this one, it’s just a fun connection for those who have.

Overall, I found this another great installment to the series. I really enjoy these men and the great found family vibe among them. This one is intense and emotional, but there is a lot of warmth among Tomás, Luke, and Flint and a really great connection. I am looking forward to more for this series.

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