Rating: 4.75 stars
FBI Special Agent Gabriel Genêt is back in Hooperstown, North Carolina, a place he couldn’t wait to escape in his youth. Agent Genet has been charged with a very special mission, one he is uniquely suited for as one of the superpowered beings. Gabriel Genet is back in his hometown to collect evidence that will lead to the arrest of Andrew Wynne, a vigilante superpowered being operating in Hooperstown. Gabriel knows the real reason he was chosen for this job is the special connection he had in the past with Andrew Wynne.
Ten years ago when both men were boys their parents were having an affair with each other and Gabriel’s Dad had dragged him down to the lake for a summer for an extended visit with Andrew’s mother. Gabriel and Andrew spent their time avoiding their parents, ragging on each other and ultimately hooking up as well. So when Andrew’s name comes up as a suspect in several FBI cases, Gabe is expected to use their past and any means possible to get the evidence the FBI needs to lock up Andrew for his crimes.
At first, Gabriel doesn’t expect any problems. Get close, get the evidence and get out. But once back in Hooperstown, old memories start bubbling to the surface when Gabe reconnects with Andrew and their sexual attraction flares as hot as it did in the past. And the longer the case takes, the deeper the affection and attraction between the two men grows until Gabriel starts to doubt not only his ability to complete the job but his entire future as a FBI agent. Who will win and who will lose or is it just possible for two superpowered men at opposite ends to find middle ground before its too late for both of them.
Losing Better is the fourth book in the Superpowered Love series and I think it is the best yet. I love Riot Boy and wondered how Katey Hawthorne was ever going to be able to supplant that book in my heart and then she writes Losing Better, one white hot tale of love and lust between two emotionally messed up and diametrically opposed men. I also think that the characters the author created for Losing Better are the most complex, difficult, and yet thoroughly human (albeit with super powers) people we have seen from her.
I fiind Gabriel Genet to be a masterpiece actually. When we first meet Gabe, he comes across as a supremely confident individual, almost rigid in his black/white view of the world, one in which he is always the winner. Sarcastic, superior and goal oriented, that’s Gabe. And as it is told from Gabe’s pov, even in his thoughts on everything from the town to Andrew, he telegraphs to the reader as something of a consummate jerk. I kept trying to find something to like about Gabe at the beginning and failing miserably. It didn’t help that Gabe’s quarry is Andrew Wynne, a gorgeous “sheep dog” of a young man, with his puppy eyes and ferocious need to please and be loved. In Andrew Wynne Hawthorne has given us such an endearing, accessible person that we emotionally leap to his defense from the start. Even as the reader listens to Gabe plotting against Andrew, we are outraged on Andrew’s behalf and Gabriel’s cruelty towards Andrew almost derails any attempt at affinity we start to muster. Opposite forces are at work at all facets of this story and nothing is as it seems on the surface. But when the cracks in Gabe’s emotional veneer start to appear, then our view of him starts to morph as well. And soon it is hard to remember our antipathy towards the hard, focused man we first meet because everything has changed.
I love the structure and narrative of this story. We dislike the protagonist who is telling the story and root for the appealing, vulnerable man of his past who only has the best interests of the town at heart, or so it appears. Katey Hawthorne gives us two men whose past and family interactions have served to mold them into two diametrically opposed forces each confident that their path is the only correct path. Even their super powers are uniquely qualified to short each other out. Gabe controls electricity so of course it flows that Andrew’s gift is that of water and the currents between the two are supercharged on every level.
And then the true complexities starts to reveal themselves as the story and Gabe’s investigation progresses. Each man carries within him the same pain filled dysfunction that stems from the same family dynamics but the truth behind what that past has done to them as they grew into men escapes in spurts throughout the narrative until it explodes into view at the end. The author gives us a surface that she slowly distorts and cracks until the real story she wants to tell is exposed before us as are the real Gabe and Andrew.
Of course, Hawthorne throws in some wonderful side characters, including that of Kieran, a friend whose sexual good nature includes a whopping helping of both men whenever he is in town. Trust me, even if a menage is not your thing, it is hard to not love Kiernan. He really is a friend to both men and while he may play with them sexually, it really doesn’t factor into their relationship except at the beginning when Gabe uses him as an emotional buffer between himself and Andrew. It’s realistic, understandable, and very hot! Luckily, Kieran is getting his own story so we will be seeing him again.
But the heart of this story is the relationship between Gabriel and Andrew and how families and our past can define what we become as adults. The end is electric, rewarding, complex, and of course, perfect. Just like the men themselves. And Losing Better gets better with the second reading as the some of the subtleties the author puts into play becomes more transparent the second time around. I cannot recommend this book or series enough. You don’t have to read them in the order they were written as they can act as stand alone novels but I enjoy the compiled history I get reading them as a series.
Here they are in the order they were written:
Equilibrium (Superpowered Love, #1)
Jealousy: A Love Story (Superpowered Love, #1.1)
Best Gift Ever (Superpowered Love, #1.2)
Riot Boy (Superpowered Love, #2)
Nobody’s Hero (Superpowered Love, #3)
Losing Better (Superpowered Love, #4)
Cover Artist: P. L. Nunn. Another wonderful cover by P.L. Nunn for the series.
Available at Loose id, Amazon, and All Romance.