Three years ago, Carl Ragar turned on the mob. His conscience couldn't handle the murder of an innocent bystander, and he had to turn his back on his mentor, Petroc "Pete" Barbu, a man he'd admired and lusted after. Pete made no apologies for his job as an enforcer, but he'd never planned to get himself or Carl involved in the murder of a reporter. When Carl turned state's evidence, Pete couldn't even pretend to be surprised. Now Pete's still on the run, and Carl is unceremoniously dumped out of witness protection. Two men tangled in their own pasts, they will have to face the shifting moral lines in the sand that drove them to make disastrous choices. Once Pete and Carl were partners who trusted each other with their lives-now they're struggling to save their souls.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: I really enjoyed this story with morally ambiguous leads and would highly recommend this nuanced story to other MM readers.
The Set Up: Carl turned on the mob three years ago and has since been expecting a bullet to the head from his former mentor, Pete, the mob enforcer. When Pete tracks Carl down his life changes in ways he can’t even imagine.
Why I Read this Book: This synopsis totally captured my interest.
What I Liked: This isn’t an easy read because the characters are morally ambiguous. This book is about how many shades of grey there are in the choices people make and I love this nuanced romance for its refusal to whitewash Carl and Pete. Carl and Pete start off on a bang as Pete locates Carl who’s been dumped out of witness protection after testifying against the mob they both worked for. Carl and readers are unclear what Pete’s intentions are and my attention was hooked within three pages of the opening and it never wavered. The messages about self-acceptance, the possibility of redemption and self-determination in the face of great obstacles is captivating but never heavy-handed. One of the most powerful scenes is when Pete is debating killing someone on the chance that the man threatens Carl and the life they’ve built; I could understand Pete’s moral dilemma here and it illustrates his character development and what role Carl plays in it.
What I Also Liked: The romance between Carl and Pete is just as tenuous as the life they lead as mobsters and the new one they’re trying to forge. The romance develops within the framework of these two men deciding how they want to live and figuring out if their new lives include each other. This dual focus produced a tightly woven story I couldn’t put down. Carl and Pete have an extremely explosive sexual chemistry when they finally give in to it but it’s balanced by a wordless emotional intensity that is delicious.
What I Didn’t Like: I’m a romance fan and I want the three little words and though the actions were there, the words not quite. I’d love a short story revisiting Carl and Pete but don’t think that’s going to happen.
IMO: I highly recommend this complicated romance to fans looking for a unique romance with complicated leads.