Rating: 3 stars out of 5
This is the fourth book in the series focusing on Ellis and his crush on one of his customers from the firing range named Bryndon. Previously Ellis seemed enamored with Clark; there is definitely still hero worship involved, complicated by doing BDSM scenes with Clark and his husband, but Ellis knows the difference between what he has and what he wants. He’s decided that he wants Bryn.
I was irritated when Ellis “realizes” he’s in love with Bryn, even though he’s only spoken a few sentences with the guy. Having said that, in the same conversation Daniel was talking to Ellis about Clark, which I loved. So, while the recapping will let you read this as a standalone, it has more emotional impact if you’ve read book one, story 1.1, and book three. Once Clark, Daniel, and Lucien try to help Ellis get noticed by Bryn, their worlds crash together. Bryn’s friend Medea is annoying, but she is also a force of nature as she helps play matchmaker. It’s also nice to have wealthy friends Ellis can borrow a plane from whenever he wants. While this widens the friends as family cast, the focus is on the two main characters. The alternating points of view between Ellis and Bryn actually made me worry for both of them.
Bryn is a ballet dancer with mental health issues. The creepy parts of this are him being haunted by someone who’s dead. He keeps everyone at arm’s length, but Ellis sneaks into his thoughts…and then Ellis ignores all Bryn’s boundaries. Even though he is the submissive, it is Ellis that pushes this whole thing forward. The more the author reveals about Bryn, the less likeable he is to me. At the same time, I see why Ellis wants to save him. His mother has been emotionally abusive his whole life so it’s not any different when Bryn goes home for his father’s funeral, Ellis in tow. Unfortunately, most of this is about Bryn’s revenge on his Mom and a plot twist that seems to have been written to heal Bryn. For me, it all comes down to this: how can Ellis trust Bryn to tie him up, to hurt him? Ellis is basically a saint, but I thought he had a somewhat healthy view of the situation until he agreed to a scene when Bryn was angry, under stress and emotional duress, and had been drinking. This was just a big turn-off for me. I was not convinced that the cathartic release was worth more than having this be safe and sane.
While love will not cure mental illness, it can give a person hope and support. If that had been the focus, I would have enjoyed this more. Complex PTSD would make sense for this character, but the author chose to have Bryn be on antipsychotics. My understanding is that hallucinations can be suppressed, not cured–even his epiphany, his closure, wouldn’t stop real hallucinations that require antipsychotics. In the end, even though there is a happily ever after, it didn’t seem realistic to me. There was no follow-up about the state of Bryn’s mental health, no therapy, no mention of Ellis meeting Bryn’s therapist, no way to know if Bryn was still having hallucinations or still taking medication…the whole thing is just dropped out of the plot. I know this is fiction, and I applaud having mental health issues being represented, but it does a disservice to people if it’s not portrayed accurately or just used as a plot device until it’s no longer needed.
The cover design is by Natasha Snow. It matches the rest of the series with the city view, but this one shows Bryn–dancing, but to me also wrestling with his darkness
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published September 28th 2019 by JMS Books LLC (first published February 29th 2016)
Original Title Earthquakes
Series New Amsterdam #4