Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
If you want a continuation of Clark and Daniel from book one, there is a short story numbered 1.1. This second book in the series actually gives more details on the backstory of how clubs Bliss and Break came to be. There is finally more shown about Clark’s side job with Lucien, complete with glimpses of Lucien and Clark’s complicated relationship as friends, business owners, and employee/employer, which help address one criticism I had for book one. Apparently they are not just bar owners, but they and their friends/employees have formed a vigilante group bent on taking down a BDSM club involved in the skin trade, run by the mob.
Lucien hasn’t seen his friend Shea for three years, since he quit his job and vanished. Lucian has kept tabs on him and he seemed alright: maybe just dropped out of the rat race to sidestep the expectations of his family. This had some amazing parts, and then had things that just didn’t work for me. Lucian is in love with him, yet stops talking to him? It’s weird that Lucian just decides to finally ask Shea out on a date under these circumstances. One thing that confused me was how close Lucian seems to Shea’s family, and how Shea is supposedly close to his family, yet when Shea just stops going home, no one goes to see him? He built his house on the family property! The author tries, unsuccessfully in my opinion, to explain this away. Could Shea really stay hidden just by selling his things and changing his job? His parents go to society and charity galas; could Shea really be that much of an unknown quantity with the mob looking for him?
They have known each other since they were six, so the three years apart helps separate the love of a childhood friend from the love for an adult. This unravels slowly, the reader working out the story of Shea from Lucien’s point of view. Shea has a country accent at the beginning, fine since he grew up on a farm, albeit a wealthy successful one. Yet, at times he is very loquacious. At first it seemed to only be pretty protocol speech when they Scene, but then it fades in and out at other times also. Yes, he is well educated, but it just doesn’t seem to me like this character ever found a consistent voice. I struggled with Lucian as well. Some of his dialogue is so pretentious, “and thus you please me greatly,” not just when they Scene, but all the time. Yes, they call him Prince, and he plays that up, but…at times his words still seemed forced, awkward, and highly stylized–like he was trying too hard to be posh. This too is weakly explained away by, a lisp? My theory is that the author is too caught up in dichotomy, but opposite sides to everyone doesn’t always translate into successfully making them complex characters.
This becomes about taking down the bad guys in military mode with guns and state of the art equipment. Though, Lucian is aware of his “arrogant insanity at orchestrating such chaos.” Although dubcon and murder are mentioned, they happened previous to the events in this book and are not described. There is, however, on page torture. I couldn’t help but think of the Unbreakable Bonds series by Drake and Elliot, so if you liked those, you might like this, but the sense of closeness, of friends as family, is not quite realized. Lucien’s father is a corrupt politician with ties to the mob, so although Shea’s storyline finds resolution here, there could be more bad guys for the vigilante friends to go after in the future. Yet, they also introduce a criminal named Kris Fawkes with the enemy of my enemy is my friend type of scenario.
The sex scenes here are tempered a bit at the beginning due to Shea’s past trauma, which is actually very effective. It’s when the BDSM becomes more involved that I think it falls down. “Shea had to trust that what he longed for wouldn’t harm him so long as he did it with the man who claimed to love him.” This needed more deft handling. So, for me the erotic parts where a mixed bag. Since this is a romance, I’m going to judge it on that part of the book, more so than anything else, and even relying on a shared history, this didn’t sparkle where it could have.
The cover design by Natasha Snow matches the series, but I have no idea what this cover is about.
Book Details:Kindle Edition, 183 pages
Published September 8th 2019 by JMS Books LLC (first published April 2012)
Original Title Winter’s Knight
Series New Amsterdam #2