Author: Ashe Barker
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/05/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
Order of the Black Knights
Gideon Maybury enjoys a life of wealth and privilege, not to mention the advantages his position offers him in his career as a merchant banker and his less public life as a high-class, skilled, and very well-paid assassin for Her Majesty’s government. When his brother dies unexpectedly, he becomes the Duke of Westmoreland.
Michael Mathison has hated Gideon since they were at university together. He’s convinced Gideon had a hand in the death of Michael’s college lover, Christopher, and that he had something to do with the death of his own brother. So he gets a job as Gideon’s driver, enabling him to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the elder Maybury sibling. At first his suspicions seem to be confirmed, but clues emerge that suggest all is not as it appears at Maybury Hall.
As the mystery deepens, so does the attraction between the two implacable enemies, as does the feeling that they have met before—under dark and terrible circumstances. Each has reasons not to trust the other, but neither is averse to a bit of kinky play. Gideon and Michael end up owing each other their lives, and it results in consequences neither could have imagined.
Ok, I have issues with this one. I enjoyed it, yes I did. I thought it was well written from a technical standpoint. But this book was not the story promised in the summary and the characters were unlikable and I just could not get past that.
First of all, this is not a historical, which granted is not specifically called out in the summary, but man is it implied. The prologue is, but the rest is set in modern day England. Which was an issue for me because it still READ like a historical. With estates, and housekeepers, and drivers. It was as if the author tried for a historical and at the last minute decided it needed to be set in current times.
Second, this story was set up in the prologue to have great potential for some other worldly happenings and potential for an awesome series to take hold. Only, it never happened! The “order” was introduced and then never mentioned again except very briefly at the end, as if the author forgot about the fact that this was meant to be the establishing book of a series. The origin of Gideon’s role in the “order” was established, and it gave a bit of insight into his history, but it felt like a cheap way for the author to excuse his rather unlikable personality.
Third, Gideon was basically an unrepentant Sociopath with few redeeming qualities. Granted I didn’t HATE him, but I never understood or really liked him. And I for sure did not understand how he could be basically this emotionless killer and then all of a sudden fall in love with Michael and change his whole outlook on life. And his “job” was handled in a totally unbelievable way since almost everyone in his life knew he was a hired killer and acted as if it was no big deal.
Fourth, the whole thing about revenge for Michael’s ex was so out of left field it was hard to handle from the get go. It had been years and the connection he made to Gideon just because Gideon’s older brother was killed, well let’s just say it was a stretch. A huge stretch. And then for Michael to just take up sleeping with his “boss” who he knows to be a killer just because “hey sex is good and why not,” I just lost it. It was so unrealistic and convoluted that I lost all respect I might have one day had for Michael’s character. And it just went downhill from there as these men fell from lust to love without any explanation. Oh and I have no idea why the author called their sex “kinky.”
Finally, the mystery was good up until the bad guy was revealed and then it went to hell in a handbasket. It was so over the top villainous and totally out of proportion for the crimes. The killer was unskilled and emotional and yet had all these grand plans that a professional could not uncover? Right. Nope, not working for me.
While I felt like this story was actually well done and easy to read, it was NOT the story promised to me and that made me angry. I would have enjoyed this one more if it had been tagged as a psychological thriller and the romance had not been so vague.
There is a small part of me that wants to continue on with this series as the premise is a good one and the next book is by a different author. I am curious how these books will be tied together, but if this one is any indication of how the other books are structured, I may just pass.
I would like to thank the publisher 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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