A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Cold Shadow (Cold Country #2) by Mercy Celeste

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story was powerfully moving, deeply chilling, and amazingly complex. But before I even begin to review it, I need to share some of the triggers that may be problems for some readers. I know I was caught off guard by a few of them and, though they are definitely issues for some people, I was honestly shocked that they didn’t turn me away from this riveting drama.

So proceed with caution if any of these are your triggers because the scenes are vivid and realistic in many of these situations: descriptions of past rape, abuse, and torture; dubious consent; rough, often violent, sex scenes; cheating—on multiple occasions; ménage, and with it, double penetration.

Where to start? First of all, to understand this story you really need to read book one first: In From the Cold in which Nathan Truman was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and brutalized at the hands of a law enforcement coworker turned monster. Nathan’s high school best friend and lover, now deeply closeted—but still involved with him—country western superstar, Quinn Anders, was able to save Nathan’s life with help from FBI Agent, Drew Walker, a secondary character in book one. As book one ended, Nathan and Quinn had made plans to be together quietly and out of the limelight, but to be committed and to raise Quinn’s daughter by an early marriage together. Their relationship would be low profile to the world at large, but known to those closest to them, and Nathan would go back to work in law enforcement. It would be for the local sheriff’s office after he had time to make peace with what happened and heal both physically and, hopefully, psychologically from the trauma.

And that’s where this book opens, but the quiet life they planned falls apart early in the story as someone is kidnapping and maiming Hispanic workers from Truman Steel and the FBI sends in an undercover officer to assess the situation. The officer they send, complete with lip piercings and a whole lot of attitude, is none other than Drew Walker, the Feeb from book one. Apparently his mother is Hispanic and he was raised in a household of Spanish-speaking family members so he’s able to fit in comfortably. Assisting him in getting into the plant is Nathan’s sister, Natalie, who’s now the manager, and Natalie’s boyfriend, the Hispanic foreman.

The story is way too complex to try to condense in any sort of detail in a review, however, it’s easy to sum up in generalizations. First and foremost, there’s apparently a lot more going on with Nathan’s and Quinn’s relationship than most people know—both now and in the past. Quinn not only loves rough and violent sex, he’s participated in it during many past occasions and has not remained faithful to Nathan. In fact, there’s a history there between he and Drew, the man who was portrayed as straight in book one. And Nathan is sexually attracted to Drew as well. As mentioned before, this story features ménage—some pretty hot ménage, to be sure—including a scene of double penetration. But it’s the violence that might turn some readers away. Though they ostensibly love each other, there is very little tender sex between Nathan and Quinn. In fact, it’s most often brutal.

Add to that, Nathan’s nightmares of his past kidnapping, and Quinn’s behaviors when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol early in his career and sold himself for a high, and you get the picture. Now, with the new round of kidnappings and mutilation of the victims, the terror comes closer when Natalie’s boyfriend goes missing. When one of the men is then taken while out hunting the kidnapper, all will have to put their personal needs, plans, and lies aside to bring the killer to justice. And though the culprit may be a shocker, the danger is not lessened when booby traps get triggered.

Honestly, as I write this review, I wonder how I can say I enjoyed the story so much, and yet I did. That indeed is a tribute to the author who dragged me into every scene and gave me a new appreciation of her talent. Unfortunately, the end of the story didn’t have the twist I’d hoped for. I held out the hope until the very last sentence of the story when the statement made totally disappointed me. It may have been 4.5 stars if not for that. I can’t go with 5 because of the cheating that was not mentioned in any of the blurbs or advanced summaries I read. Plus, even after I went back to the previous story and searched for indications that Drew was more important to these men than appeared on the surface, I can’t shake the feeling he was a very minor character in the first story and much of what is revealed in this one as having taken place during the time of the first one doesn’t have a firm foundation in the first book. (Sorry if that sounds confusing.) So a 4 star review here. But overall, I do recommend it to those who like a dark and/or kinky story and can forgive the cheating.

Cover art shows the muscular, bare-chested Nathan in the forefront with the shadow of a man with a guitar in the background, an obvious representation of closeted Quinn.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by MJC Press
ASINB071DL35K3
SeriesCold Country #2

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