Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun 6) by John Wiltshire ~ Buddy Review by Lirtle and Beverley ~ with Giveaway

Deaths-Ink-Black-Shadow-cover-1Title: Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun 6)

Author: John Wiltshire

Publisher: MLR Press

Cover Artist: Deana Jamroz

Lirtle’s Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Beverley’s Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 06/19/2015

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Mystery

Summary:

It takes a certain kind of courage to live as if favoured by the gods, ignoring the ever-present ghosts of your past—or perhaps not bravery, but arrogance. And maybe not even that. Ben genuinely believes that the past is behind them—that they deserve to enjoy the life they have created. So it’s not hubris that leads him to overlook the signs that Nikolas does not share his faith, it’s love. But Nikolas knows something is coming. He can’t stop it; he can only decide how he will choose to face it. And without Ben’s support, he is entirely alone.

Lirtle’s View:

So, girls ‘n boys, here we are with Ben & Nik. We’re back with the humor, and the heartache bubbling just below the surface, along with tension and utter joy, and the love. Oh, the love. As a friend of mine said, as soon as I start reading a book in this series, I remember why and get to experience why I love these two characters. To that, I said, it’s like visiting crazy but so well-known and loved family. 😀

I remembered on page one.

She’d balanced on her weirdly shaped baby feet and beamed at her own brilliance – and Nikolas had laughed back.

Molly amused Nikolas.

This was something Ben needed to think seriously about.

Actually, when I read that, and then think about where this book ends up…. I’m sorta kinda flabbergasted in the best way. Lemme ‘splain.

Ben and Nik are still desperate for each other, feeling that chemical need to be with each other. It’s as strong as ever. Their hearts speak to and fight with and protect each other. Often times, it’s not at all easy, to boot.

And the twists! Don’t forget about the twists. Wiltshire sure didn’t. Damn the man and his excellent monkey wrench-throwing skills. They always land right on target: the heart. My heart!

Here is what might be the key as to why this series and these characters continue to captivate me: Benjamin and Nikolas know each other, down bone deep, and yet they continue to learn, and relearn, ab out each other, adding that knowledge to their shared life. Do they always use it in the most intelligent ways? No. Do they always even remember that it’s there? Uh, no. Ok, that might also be why they still keep me in their thrall. This and all of the books in this series have felt like watching the evolution of a relationship, one going on more than ten years now.

Yesterday was a place you inhabited every single day and could never leave. Nikolas’s past hadn’t caught up to him again. He’d just turned around and bumped into its stalking presence.

Wiltshire is a top storyteller. His skills at mapping out this entire universe, connecting his characters to it and each other, adding in the surprises, big and small, never letting up on the growth and change, only to turn things on their collective heads, making me doubt it all. Even in the worst moments, I trust him to do what’s right for these characters, remaining true to them, while maintaining forward momentum.

The level of intimacy between Ben and Nik… it qualifies as “off the charts”, showing itself in so many ways, sexual, relationship wise, and more. Everything is heightened, the stakes are enormous, the risk incredible. It’s frightening and deeply beautiful.

A number of the supporting characters we love – Tim, Squeezy, Babushka, Emilia – are here. They have less page time than in previous books but their impact is no less powerful. And, of course, Radulf. Radulf! I won’t even say one word about him. 😉

For all the seriousness, the humor that is part and parcel of Wiltshire’s storytelling, resulting in the playfulness between the characters is definitely here. It also serves as a way to once again show the deep connections between them all.

For a captive, Nikolas was being surprisingly lax in his attempts to escape. Unless lying provocatively and unbuttoning his shirt was a prelude to a dash for freedom.

From humor, we’re back to heavy truth…

He began to realise just how much he took Nikolas’s devotion to him for granted. Being with Nikolas was sometimes like being tumbled in the wave of a tsunami – it was all churn and movement and smash of debris. The tumult hid the central core of love, which, Ben knew, was just how Nikolas liked it. He didn’t do romance. He did constant, rock-solid care and unremitting attention.

Benjamin + Nikolas = unquenchable love.

The ending. Brilliant. Talk about coming full circle. And yet, it feels like there are many questions yet to be answered: Ben and Nik are back to the beginning, in a sense, but they carry the knowledge gained from ten years together. How does that work, how does all of this work? What do they do now? Who will be there with them? There’s no turning back now.

This is the most personal story in this series so far. It’s all about Ben and Nik and what is going on inside both of them, between them. It’s very dark, while also being revelatory and gorgeous. I survived by continuing to place my trust in Wiltshire’s storytelling hands. I made it. It was all worth the risk. Will Ben and Nik survive? Will you? 😉

Giveaway: Lirtle is sponsoring a giveaway for one e-copy of the first book in this series, Love Is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun Book 1) to one commenter. The giveaway ends at 12 Midnight Central Time Seven Days from the date the review is posted.

Beverley’s View:

Lirtle has given a wonderful review (above), which explains this episode in the lives of Nikolas and Ben, very well.

I haven’t given 5*, although my enjoyment of this book was immense. A tiny niggle regarding Molly Rose was responsible for a tiny part of a star missing. The ages of this gorgeous baby do not match up with her development, however precocious she may be. Unimportant to the story I know, but it niggled.

The clever part of this book for me was how the ‘something’s coming’ aspect of the plot was to an extent kept hidden by the story being told from Ben’s POV. This coloured events with his intense desire for their lives to be good and safe and perfect now. As Ben has decided that his life with Nik and their friends will be perfect from now on – he misreads everything. He even misinterprets and misunderstands the friends he has always trusted like Squeezy and Tim – their relationship is adorable by the way –

I thought the use of the ‘unreliable narrator’ was a brilliant device to use here, and one which made the ending feel more brutal and disturbing.

I loved Nikolas’ reactions and interactions with Molly Rose very much. I am also amazed that after five books I still love to read about the relationship and bantering between Nikolas and Ben, but I do. I think the lead up, to the climax of this book, was a tiny bit too long, another tiny piece of star gone for me.

Regardless, this is the kind of passage that keeps me coming back to these two Alpha Men;

Nikolas put a hand on Ben’s belly, spreading his fingers, seeming to anchor himself on warm flesh. ‘You fill the absence of God for me.’ Once more, he turned his head and Ben copied him, their gazes met in the darkness. ‘I no longer feel alone.’

Ben lightens this with a comment like – how much have you had to drink – but the psychological side of their relationship is fascinating. This book ends as they all do with the duo at home, now Devon, but this time with all their friends and surrounded by joy. A determined juxtaposition to the scenes before where Ben saves Nikolas’ from an act of brutality in such a way as to open Nikolas’ eyes where Ben is concerned.

This could have been a great end to the series. However, I did not want it to be so and I was so happy to see the words – ‘To be continued in Enduring Night…’

Giveaway: Beverley is also sponsoring a giveaway for one e-copy of the first book in this series, Love Is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun Book 1) to one commenter. The giveaway ends at 12 Midnight Central Time Seven Days from the date the review is posted.

 

Links

Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun 6) on Goodreads
MLR Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.

Farewell Giveaway
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,

Brandilyn
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8 thoughts on “Death’s Ink-Black Shadow (More Heat Than the Sun 6) by John Wiltshire ~ Buddy Review by Lirtle and Beverley ~ with Giveaway

  1. Thank you for the double review of this one. I hadn’t heard of this author or series before and now I’m really intrigued. I would love to start reading this series. Thank you the chance to win a copy of book one.

    • You’re welcome, Jen. We like doing the buddy reviews and hopefully they’re helpful.

      Intrigued is a perfect word for these characters lol

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