This story is an example of the broadening of this world of M/M fiction that we all love. *START TRANSMISSION* This is not a romance…
Author: Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock
Publisher: Crocobear Press
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
Ilia Porter is Chechen mob boss Mikhail Kadyrov’s greatest treasure. After leaving home at eighteen to escape his verbally abusive father, beautiful, selfish Ilia has lived with Mikhail, proud of his ability to bring such a powerful man to his knees to worship. But when Ilia’s father, a police captain, kills Mikhail in a raid, Ilia’s world falls apart.
Entering to pick up the pieces is Mikhail’s younger brother, Nick—impulsive, power-hungry, and dangerous. When Nick tells Ilia he’s taking everything that belonged to Mikhail—including Ilia—Ilia is too lost in grief to fight. Nick takes Ilia prisoner in the apartment Ilia once shared with Mikhail and grooms him for a very important mission: to kill Ilia’s father and avenge Mikhail’s death.
Ilia wants no part in the plot, but being Nick’s ally is preferable to being Nick’s victim, so he begins to warp himself into the monster Nick wants him to be. Hope arrives when Nick takes another captive: Patrick, a shy massage therapist who’s stronger than he seems. Patrick and Ilia must join forces to escape Nick—and to keep each other whole as Nick does everything in his power to break them
This is fiction that will kick your ass.
We start out with a couple of characters, Ilia and Mikhail, who are unafraid in their acceptance of one another and their shared tastes and indulgences. And yet, human vulnerability, the need to be loved, understood, they are meandering around, hand in hand with the kink. In other words, the ability to create individualized characters that are mired in the same human frailties from which we all suffer is on display here. It’s a meaty mix I can grab onto, and kneed, and pinch, and know I’m feeling something real.
Right. So. You in? Because then everything changes.
I tell you what, I love when I don’t know what’s going to happen. Anticipation. I love when I can’t decide which character’s words to trust. Uncertainty. I love feeling that shaky need to keep reading. Compulsion. I never felt like I was standing on solid ground, not once, during this read. And even when I thought I caught a glimpse, that proverbial rug was pulled out from underneath me, again and again.
You aren’t what other people try and define you to be. It’s dangerous for you to believe that, and even more dangerous for them to assume it.
He had no life left to speak of, and he still didn’t want to die.
There needs to be an emotional base from which suffering grows. If it’s suffering for suffering’s sake, that doesn’t work for me. At times, I couldn’t decide which I was getting here. I like when things are held close to the vest, that I’m made to work for them. I like when things are revealed in time, but it felt like those emotional roots were handled with a stingy hand at times.
It took me awhile before a meaningful emotional connection was made beyond the opening chapter. Which made me think, are we supposed to even have one? But then, if we don’t, what’s the point? When it did happen, by the time I reached that point, I was so wrapped into the story, I was almost afraid to let it happen. I was afraid of what I might be put through for having dared to make the investment. What was this going to do to me?
All that misery dammed up behind those words, and Ilia didn’t want to be there when it broke through. Couldn’t stand to listen to someone else’s misery, when he could hardly keep his own contained.
It’s a harrowing change in existence Ilia goes through. Through. Is he through it? What exactly will it be? Is he through with it? This is probably the biggest question I asked as I was reading.
Flashbacks of a sort are used, in that Ilia travels back to happier moments. Though, sometimes that happiness is cruel, a reminder. It forces him to think, to feel, and then to wonder if his very thoughts and feelings are real or right.
I won’t say much about Patrick, only that he’s vital and it’s not always an obvious thing. He holds his own surprises.
Parts of this story are told in short bursts, unrelenting, nonstop. It adds to the atmosphere, always on the edge. It felt like I didn’t know which way to turn, which corner of the room to curl up into in order to remain somewhat protected while not losing sight of what was happening.
There were a couple of points during the book that felt long or repetitive but they didn’t lessen the overall impact of the story.
Ilia’s point of view is strong. He’s the right voice through which to tell this story.
“I will always love you, Ilie.” Then I don’t need the world after all.
I don’t usually categorize endings in my reviews and I won’t start here. Just know that it fits the story. And, I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, I think I’m demanding more.
Know that the warnings on this story are accurate.
I’m adding a personal note here. Maybe I shouldn’t but I am: I love what happens when two authors write together and create a story unlike anything they’ve published before. It’s exciting, scary and important, from both the writer and the reader perspectives, and it’s happened here with these two. Their writing is strong, as usual.
This will be a difficult read for a lot of people, it definitely was for me. I’m glad that I did read it and feel privileged to be a witness to something that feels significant in regards to this genre, an ever expanding definition of fiction.
Remember, this is not a romance.
I would like to thank Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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