Dana reviews The Love of Wicked Men box set (Season 1) by Brandon Shire (Published by TPG Books, June 12, 2015, 449 pages)
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
First, let me say thanks for hosting the Wicked Men blog tour. The creation of this lengthy novel was quite an adventure. Throughout the course of writing each episode, readers were offered the opportunity to give their input and suggestions on how they thought the story should move along. And I threw in a few twists and surprises along the way, just to keep them on their toes. The Wicked Men blitz features seven unique excerpts, so don’t miss any. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny?
The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.
Jack had to agree. His body ached like he’d been jumped by a group of men. He waited a moment and Rivers came on the mat acting exactly as Jack expected him to.
“My turn,” Sid snarled.
Jack bowed and they began to circle.
“You’re a long way from Huntsville,” Sid remarked with a sneer.
“I could say the same about you,” Jack replied as he feigned a left handed takedown. Sid turned quickly, spinning. His foot connected with Jack’s midsection, forcing Jack’s breath in a woof. Sid grinned but didn’t press his advantage.
Jack capitalized on his mistake and lashed out with a side kick that caught Sid in the head. When Sid attempted to block the next kick, Jack changed up and stunned him with three quick punches to the right flank. Sid lunged, and Jack tossed him over his shoulder. Jack rushed in, struck him in the face once, tapping his cheekbone with his knuckles, before he backed off to let Sid recover.
Sid jumped to his feet quickly, pure rage in his eyes.
“What’s the matter, Counselor? Can’t hang?” Jack taunted. He’d left a thin but visible welt on Sid’s face. It would bruise by the evening. With a little more force, he could’ve broken his cheekbone and dislocated his jaw.
Sid stepped away, signaling his next kick. Jack rotated his upper body, the kick catching his arm at an ineffective angle. He grabbed Sid’s shin and twisted, whirling Rivers in the air and dropping him on the mat with a hard thud. Those watching the match muttered quietly.
“You through?” he asked Sid, knowing the question would only incense him more.
“Not by far,” Sid growled.
Jack wagged his fingers, moving across the mat, his mind on Sid and not the audience they’d attracted. “Come on then.”
Sid bounced to his feet and leapt forward with a side kick. Jack blocked him, spun and drove an elbow into Sid’s thigh while ushering his graceless plunge to the mat. Sid came back quickly – punch, left, right, and then three attempted palm strikes. It was a standard set, but ineffective against an experienced fighter and Jack brushed each blow away easily.
A touch of respect welled in Rivers’ eyes, but it was obscured by his growing resentment. Jack knew it was time to finish before one of them got seriously hurt. Sid thought he was better than he actually was, and he was angry enough to do something stupid. He knew how to fight within the rules, but when there were no rules, he would end up hurt, or dead.
Jack feinted with a left fist, then went sideways into the throat and knee at the same time. Sid blocked to protect his throat, but missed the knee and dropped to the mat groaning in pain. Jack was on him in an instant, closing the space between them with a flurry of kicks to Sid’s ribs that would leave no portion unbruised.
He didn’t give Sid a chance to recover this time. He changed disciplines, showing Rivers what actual fighting was about. As Sid rose, Jack slid behind him, jabbing at Sid’s throat with his fingers.
Sid gasped and sputtered. His eyes flared. His discipline unfocused because of his anger, he grabbed at his throat, and then reached for whatever piece of Jack’s flesh he could get his hands on. Jack snatched his wrist from the air, twisted it and wrapped himself around Sid’s body, bringing them both back to the floor. Sid heaved against his grip, but Jack’s hold was solid.
Jack placed his lips against Sid’s ear. “I have a present being delivered to you later. You better pay attention to it.”
“Fuck you,” Sid spat. He attempted to roll, but couldn’t get Jack off.
Jack tightened his grip, slipped his opposite arm around Sid’s neck and cut off his air. “You’re a little boy in a man’s game,” Jack whispered, his voice full of contempt.
“And what’s it to you?” Sid rasped.
“Because you’re going to end up dead.”
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It’s hard to write a review for this box set because my mind was blown reading the episodes. I have to say that this series was not what I expected at all. The blurb was a little vague and on the short side. Not that that’s a bad thing. Sometimes the best surprises come from the lack of expectation. From the title, though, I had thought it would be a romance. After reading it, I would definitely not consider it a romance. Sid and Jack did find themselves attracted to each other, and at the end of the episode 6 had developed care and concern for each other, but it was far from a love story. There was some erotica, but most of the sex scenes that took place weren’t even between the two mc’s. I would definitely place this story in the category of Gay fiction, and it was a very good example of the genre.
The characters were the first thing to surprise me. First off, Sid is a lawyer, and maybe I should blame Law and Order, but I expected him to be a good guy. Jack was standing trial for a robbery, in which he had nicked Sid with a knife. He was clearly the bad guy. Almost immediately though, my perceptions were flipped. I couldn’t believe the lengths that Sid would go through to win a case or dig up dirt on a rival law practice. Not to mention the way he treated the tricks he picked up for the night. Jack is still far from being a good guy, but he treats people 100 times better than Sid does, and he appears to be trying to stop an unnamed group from hurting people. So I was definitely thrown by them, and wondered how I could like a story whose main characters were so twisted and somewhat bad. But I did. I loved it. Throughout the story we do learn things about Sid and Jack that make them more understandable. While Sid didn’t grow on me, Jack did, and I really did like him by the end. There were a lot of secondary characters to love and hate as well. My favorites were Sweeny, Drake, and Lori, members of Jack’s team.
There was a lot of intrigue going on in The Love of Wicked Men. It had a good amount of mystery, though neither of the main characters had the job of cop, detective, or FBI agent. That was a first for me. There were so many twists and turns, and people spying on each other. Everywhere you looked someone was trying to take down someone else. Just when you think you know who set everything into play, a new character arises and adds another suspect to the mix. I had no idea who was moving the pawns around the board so effortlessly until the end of the book. I loved being surprised by an ending as much as the characters were, it really lends to the feeling of being transported into the story. Now, the box set is considered a season and each book an episode. I can’t say that I pictured this story as a television show, but I could and would definitely see it on the big screen. I loved the book, and the surprises it threw at me. At the end of the book, the author asks if the reader would be interested in a Season 2. My answer: Hell, yes!
About the Author
Great stories should not depend on gender or sexual preference of a character, but instead upon the strength of the characters and the honesty and urgency of the story.
Brandon Shire proves he understands the complexity of writing LGBT fiction from two very different viewpoints – serious and smexy. His serious fiction is written for those who enjoy a book, which explores life’s darker elements in a more literary form, while the smexy fiction is for those who enjoy a graphically erotic romance.
Regardless of the differentiation above, Brandon writes for people who enjoy being challenged, and for those who strive to understand situations they don’t typically encounter. He pens raw, emotional stories about characters, which readers will either love or love to hate.
Life and love are pretty damned special, but neither is always perfect. Life can be painful, and real love hard to find. Brandon’s fiction is an exploration of the (sometimes) arduous search for the happiness we all desire.
Connect with Brandon
Using Rafflecopter below, enter to win ecopies of all Brandon’s books or one of five ecopies of The Love of Wicked Men Box Set. Open internationally. Must be 18 years or older to enter.
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3 Chicks After Dark, Attention Is Arbitrary, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Bike Book Reviews, Book Reviews & More by Kathy, Charlie Cochet, Cup o’ Porn, Divine Magazine, Foxylutely, Gay Media Reviews, GGR-Review, Hearts On Fire, Love Bytes, Multitaskingmommas Book Reviews, Nautical Star Books, The Novel Approach, On Top Down Under Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words & Sinfully… Addicted to All Male Romance
Tour and materials organized by PAS Promotions