Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Life wasn’t easy when you were certifiable, Gerald “Psycho” Clemons lived on the fringes of society. Five years he hadn’t thought twice about riding with a group who saw most laws as flexible. When the leader of the group turned crazier than Psycho, he stepped in and made the man pay. He’d never been rewarded for his temper before, yet that’s what happened when he earned a permanent place and a job as a bouncer. Everyone walked a wide circle around him, and he liked it that way. One look from his cold black eyes and he had people backing up. Then he met a man who had to be crazier than him.
Decadence Bakery was Ben Morin’s dream come true, and he loved it, but he grew tired of his lonely existence. Six months earlier he’d turned on the open sign and hopefully changed his life for the better. Ben loved his small cottage in the middle of nowhere even with the 3 a.m. rumbling of motorcycles and loud music at the farm next door. Although one thing he didn’t love, was his new hobby of watching one of the terrifying men next door. What could a little harmless peek now and then hurt?
Sweet and older wasn’t his type, but Psycho couldn’t deny the need to possess the beautiful baker. It was stronger than even the insanity he barely kept at bay, could he have a man who looked passed it or would Ben run like all the rest?
J.M. Dabney’s explorations of the strange, sometimes twisted road to love between men who’ve been abused, hardened by life and their soulmates continues with Psycho. The second story in the Brawler‘s series (see all connected series below), Psycho is employed at the Brawlers bar/club as one of their security men. He does whatever it takes to keep the bar running smooth and it’s employees safe. He’s also is one of those men barely under control at any given moment, only his boss Elijah, who seems to have ‘adopted’ him, easily brings Psycho back from the edge.
Dabney gives Psycho a profoundly disturbing, yet I suspect intentionally vague backhistory. The author gives us just enough elements of Psycho’s background and upbringing if you can call it that to make one nauseous, letting the reader’s mind fill in the horrific blanks of how that could traumatize any child that survived it. Yes, the name Psycho certainly fits the man. It also makes his lack of socialization, verbal skills, and inability to recognize all the normal group/personal interactions and their subtleties understandable. It’s just all beyond him, and the rage that’s constantly with him is one consequence of that.
Here’s a brute whose actions and personality seem simple yet the truth is he’s anything but. I loved that about this story (and series). Dabney’s ability to create such brutalized, abused men, yet let us see beyond the surface into their backhistory into the trauma that made them, and the way in which they still find the person that accepts who they are, despite their violence and still with the capacity for love. Here Psycho’s man is Ben the baker.
Ben Morin isn’t quite the norm here. Yes, he’s gotten out of a relationship and there will be some wonderful growth for him as a character, surprising growth. Yet Ben, intelligent, accepting, loving Ben (with a little help), finds a new circle of friends and a home within the Brawlers circle and love, eventually, with Psycho. There’s also an ex involved in a surprising thread here, but I won’t reveal who it is and how it comes into play. I was astonished myself how much I liked this aspect of the story. And I admit I must have brushed over this when I came across it in the Executioners books. Huh. But watching these two get together is such a pleasure that sometimes I found myself just laughing out loud over the sheer joy and fun that was involved here.
Reading Psycho (Brawlers, #2) by J.M. Dabney was such a wild, wonderful experience! I laughed so hard at places, wanted to cry over the abuse that made Psycho the man that he is, fanned myself a lot over the sexy scenes and was just so beyond happy at the HEA for all involved. When it comes to a J.M. Dabney story, you get a village. By that I mean, all your beloved characters are going to make appearances, which is great by me. I’m working myself backwards in the series but you don’t have to. I’ve laid them all out for you below. It certainly helps to know who everyone is because not only do they make appearances in each other’s stories and their relationships have matured (as they have) as the series advance. The town of Powers, Georgia also undergoes a dramatic transformation from series one Twirled World Ink to series three Executioners. So no, you really can’t call any of them standalones. What I do call them is highly recommended. Getting reading now!
Now onto Bull (Brawlers, #3), review coming soon.
Cover art by Winterheart Designs is terrific. I just love the covers for this series, this one included.
Sales Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 119 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published 2017)
Edition Language English
SeriesBrawlers #2 setting Georgia (United States)
- Executioners – third series