Rating: 5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★
Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.
Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the eleven-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in the heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.
A Solitary Man by Aisling Mancy and Shira Anthony tackles one of the most heartrending and horrific subjects imaginable, that of child trafficking and child abuse and does so with depth, heart, and compassion. At times, a story so difficult to read that I often found myself in tears having to put my Kindle down, these authors have combined their talents to bring forth a story so powerful and timely that I’m shocked they haven’t combined their forces before now.
The vehicle of advocacy for these abused and often murdered children is a intense story, starting with one driven man, Xavier “Xav” Constantine. A FBI agent working the child prostitution rings, an undercover job gone horrifically wrong sees Xav resign, following a sickening trail of lost children to North Carolina and a Deputy Sheriff’s job. Already present in the small town of Dare’s Landing is closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild, a man so haunted by his own past that its imprisoned him in his present.
Mancy and Anthony takes these two disparate, intense men and gives them a raw, gritty feel to make them vividly, fully alive. One is already willingly shouldering the yoke of advocacy for these missing, abused and most likely murdered children to the extent that nothing else really exists for him. Sex is quick and meaningless, relationships nonexistent. The other? Hiding behind his own nightmares and denials. And what huge denials they are. Because of their careful crafting of these characters, these men, instead of judging them , we really understand the fear, the anger, whatever emotion they may be feeling and the foundation from which each man is coming from, even without the full history.
Their relationship is slow to come and perhaps this really isn’t a romance novel, nor should it be considering the content and subject matter. Its definitely not the main thread here in the narrative. So if that’s the book you are looking for, a total romance, than this is probably not the novel for you. Like everything else about A Solitary Man, their strides towards each other is hard work, fraught with missed steps, miscommunications, and fear. That they are able to go forward in the end is both courageous and rewarding. That alone is reason to read this story, even if the romance isn’t the main storyline.
Its the abused children here that will tear at your heart. Just as they should. There are descriptions here that gave me nightmares and I think that the authors were most likely less graphic and monstrous than they could have been, given the actual knowledge they have of the subject matter*. That such scenes are also written with tenderness, compassion but with accuracy doesn’t lighten the emotional impact, but instead makes it all the more powerful, because you know that the children represented in the story are but a fraction of the children impacted worldwide. Here they are given names and faces and their fates make it all too real.
To get to the missing children there is a number of investigations that are full of heartbreaking clues, pulse-thumping, action-packed, white-knuckle scenes and dialog. The authors balance the mystery of combined investigations, then the suspense of a race against time for a combined rescue that was a true page turner, a thriller in the best sense of the word.
A Solitary Man is such a powerful book. An advocate for abused children, a suspense thriller, a crime novel and yes, a romance story, and the authors handled it all beautifully. Does one element come across with a little more power and precision? Perhaps, but with that emotional engine driving this story, it makes A Solitary Man by Aisling Mancy and Shira Anthony a book to remember and perhaps one of the best of the year. I highly recommend it.
Cover art by Reese Dante is perfect in tone and design for the character in the story.
ebook, 1st, 304 pages
Published November 6th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623807271 (ISBN13: 9781623807276)