Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Related to the Men Of Honor and Phoenix Inc. series, you can read this without reading the other seven books, as there is plenty of recapping, (over two dozen characters are mentioned in the first few chapters alone), but be prepared for the plot to be connected. I picked this because I remember reading said series a long time ago. This first paragraph is usually where I try and give a little synopsis of the plot, so here goes: Cade, a professional fighter working for the Russian mob, dates the wrong man, a spook named Courier. Courier then blackmails him into doing sexual things or else he will kill one of his best friends, a Delta Force active duty serviceman now in Africa. Of course, the BDSM club named Crave, which he is forced to go to, is run by ex-military men who run a mercenary group named Gray Ops. Is he an unwitting honeypot to get to the owners Tegan and Vic, or is something else happening? I am going to give you a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read anymore. It’s also a major trigger, so I’m not even going to feel bad about it. Be prepared for multigenerational child abuse happening here.
At this point, I will say the erotic parts can survive without the plot, but the plot is pure angst and sex–bonding over past trauma and lust. At first, it’s difficult to emotionally engage, because the characters are like caricatures. The men teeter between heavy testosterone “f*ck or fight,” (the author’s words, not mine) hyper-masculinity, to swoony heroes in a bodice ripper. I’ve been reading m/m romance for almost a decade now and I think my expectations of this genre are much higher. Also, fairly or not, it’s difficult not to compare this to other works by this author that are much better, especially since most of her characters are very similar. The depth always seems to come from the characters having been tortured during their military service, or being abused in foster care, and suffering from PTSD. Then you get hit in the gut by all of the child abuse, both current with a character who is a minor, and past with several main characters. That’s not even talking about the paedophile ring and the human trafficking.
This starts out well, if you don’t mind sexy dub-con, but Tegan and Vic go into alpha protective dom mode immediately after one scene with Cade, a complete stranger, and start acting like they are life partners. This is done knowingly, with a nod and wink, as werewolf mates are referenced by an old friend. Cade, a former Ranger and Delta Force member, and professional street fighter, is treated like a helpless kitten. I also never like it when books use former sexual abuse as the reason people like BDSM–because they are damaged and then let people continue to abuse them, but it’s okay because they need it. It’s so busy recapping the past and writing in various new characters and topics that can be revisited in the future, that this plot suffers. This triad is compared to two other triads from the previous series as well, so I guess it’s an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. The rest of the book is finding a way for this threesome to get closer, exploiting all of their past pain, to build up to a rescue that isn’t all that exciting. I had a difficult time rating this because it has so much going on that it doesn’t do any one thing particularly well or believably. I know there are fans who will love this book because they get to see some of their past favorites, but for me having a few walk on roles wasn’t enough.
The cover art design is by Croco Designs. I would guess this is Cade and the red cover is evocative of an emergency or danger, but this really doesn’t give you anything else about the story.
Sales Link: Amazon
Book Details:Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published May 24th 2019 by Stephanie Tyler LLC
Edition Language English
Series Crave Club #1