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The Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay Dimon

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 17th June 2016
The Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay DimonThe Talented Mr. Rivers by HelenKay Dimon
Series: End of the Line #2
Published by Loveswept on September 13th 2016
Pages: 176
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four-stars

As the son of an international crime lord, Will Rivers only inherited one thing after his father died: trouble. The Pentasus organization deals in kidnapping and murder, and Will wants no part of the power grab that’s tearing leadership apart. But the only way he’ll be able to escape is with some help from his former bodyguard, Hunter Cain, whose sculpted body and brooding looks keep Will awake at night. Somehow, Hunter has resisted the tension between them . . . until, suddenly, he gives in.
As a German intelligence officer working deep undercover, Hunter has a very good reason to keep Will in the dark about his identity and his intentions. Although the sex is hot, Hunter’s true feelings are a growing liability. Now the only way to save Will from his old life is to push him deeper into danger. But when two strong men are each determined to protect the other, the heat isn’t just combustible—it’s a firestorm.

For all of two months, Hunter Cain never broke his cover, until an incident that puts his mission on the line. Becoming the bodyguard of the son of an international crime lord is equally incidental, and for all his ability to put his mission above all, his mark this time around, makes him stray into deeper shades of grey that he has never quite known.

I must admit that reading a same-gender romance requires a bit of adjustment on my part. Always. Particular after months or weeks of M/F couples whose dynamics and relationships have been cut crystal clear in all the romance tropes available in the market these days, unlike the more fluid ones here, which I personally find alluring because of this marked difference. There isn’t a person who assumes or mimics the feminine role, no conventional structure to follow with the sexual dynamics that come into play, but rather, just the tumble into carnal desire between two men.

There’s a harder edge to HelenKay Dimon’s End of the Line series that drew me into the first book and continues to draw me in even now, more so perhaps because it’s an M/M story, of two men who circles each other warily in the games only males can play. The ‘softer’ emotions are absent here, just as you’d expect two hard men to react, never quite talking or acknowledging their feelings straight on. I found Hunter and Will more fascinating than bosom-buddy characters for these reasons, as though they existed on a different plane than I do. Yet there’s this dark thread of attraction and the zing of chemistry that makes this unusual bodyguard/charge relationship really sing, coupled with Dimon’s punchy writing, which makes the story a surprising but memorable standout for me.

four-stars

Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 10th March 2016
Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay DimonMr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon
Series: End of the Line #1
Published by Loveswept on May 24th 2016
Pages: 210
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three-stars

Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything. . . .   Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive.

Even as a one-night stand in a bar slips unexpectedly into a routine of living together, Fisher Braun doesn’t question this too much until a kidnapping goes wrong and betrayal hits him square in the face of Zach Allen with whom he thought he’d something real. In a case of double crossings, undercover identities and an operation gone wrong, Zach and Fisher (both hardened men) must learn the hard way what happens beyond trust is shattered and the difficult consequences of keeping a personal life apart from the soul-sucking demands of their CIA superiors.

I requested for this not particularly for a HEA as I usually do, but rather to satisfy a burning curiosity about how men in a partnership dealt with their emotions – away from a sports setting – and how women authors perceived and wrote them. And how, apart from the M/M sex – which I wasn’t entirely too interested in, to be honest -, the tone and voice would differ had this been a M/F book.

It turned out that my initial suspicion about the male form of emotional repression was right (regardless of gender orientation) and this book confirms it when 2 men punch out their frustration rather than articulate what’s exactly wrong in their relationship. The hard-edge, grittier, more unforgiving bits of alpha male personalities came to the fore in Zach and Fisher, lending the story a weightier, gruffer and sombre feel than the usual kind of crackling chemistry that runs through the usual M/F pairings that I always read about.

Clearly, ‘Mr. and Mr. Smith’ isn’t a book for everyone despite the ongoing action and suspense; the whole clandestine operation feels a little dopey at times, and the main characters are clearly too stubborn for their own sakes, but it has already left me wondering about the direction in which HelenKay Dimon will take this series.

three-stars
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