Rating: 5 stars out of 5
They said men only get better with age, distinguished and all that BS, but Archer “Bulletproof” Woods hadn’t gotten better. At fifty-six he was still as much an asshole as he’d been in his twenties and thirties, hell, maybe he was worse. Being a bouncer at a bar called Brawlers suited him just fine and he even tolerated the rest of the crew who’d taken up residence in his house when they’d had nowhere else to go. He was big, growly and homely that kept the parade of men passing through Brawlers at arm’s length for the past decade. One night changed all that.
What he’d thought was happily ever after turned into a nearly five year nightmare. Gregory Charles appeared to have it all, a successful business, sophistication, and a perfect marriage. His friend and best employee, Landon, begged him to come out to a friend’s bar to celebrate Landon’s anniversary. What could it hurt? A night without contemplating the hell that would come down on him the moment he served his husband with divorce papers would do him good. That is until he met the brooding older man staring into a whiskey straight ignoring everyone around him.
Watching for trouble was his job and Gregory screamed mistake as soon as the long, lean and handsome man sat down beside him. But he also knew when someone was in over their head and Gregory needed someone to watch his back. That someone was Bull, only time would tell if he’d have to fight Gregory as much as the man after him.
Bull‘s story is the one I’ve been waiting for. I’ve love the huge, hulking father figure ever since I became aware of the Brawlers and their extended family. It’s Bull and his house whose been the home and focal point of so many of these stories. And it’s been Bull who’s been such a steadying influence on those around him when everything felt like it was being destroyed for them. Yet Bull was ever lonely, alpha among alphas, and you wanted to get the know the person called Bull. In Bull (Brawlers #3) by J.M. Dabney I finally got that story.
The solitary man isn’t the one I was prepared to find. He’s hardly anywhere close to the men he houses, although he clearly understands them and the violence that drives them. Instead Dabney gives us a man full of pain and loneliness, hating it, yet perhaps thinking that his time for something more has passed him by because of his age. The sadness is overwhelming. Then Gregory appears at Brawlers, helping to celebrate Landon’s anniversary and a connection is made that changes everything.
Gregory is a complicated character (they all are here). Explaining more about Gregory actually gives away too much of the the plot for my comfort, however, let’s just say trying to serve divorce papers to a husband isn’t always the easiest thing when the husband refuses to accept them. This is a hurt/comfort story and deals with issues of domestic violence and control.
Bull’s situation (he’s divorced with a grown child he hasn’t seen in awhile) plus his age all determines the manner in which he views his actions towards Gregory and any possibility of a relationship. Gregory’s own demons also need to be dealt with by Gregory himself and others. Broken, bruised men are the heart of most of Dabney’s stories. For most, life has made them hard and violent, but for some, it’s left it’s marks in other ways.
The relationship dynamics here make any romance unsure and slow as it should be. I loved the struggle and the carefulness taken to ensure more pain wasn’t inflicted. I like that there is an awareness of the age issue, it’s addressed, and they move forward. Was it a little rushed towards the end? Perhaps, but the whole is darn near perfect.
I think Bull is one of my favorite Brawler books of the series. Of course, I do love the whole series and the one that follows it. I have them all listed below. Check them all out and check them off as I review them. I highly recommend them all.
Cover design by Winterheart Designs is perfect for Bull, how I love these covers.
Sales Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 199 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published 2017)
- Executioners – third series