Dana reviews Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal by Jeff Mann (Published by Lethe Press, August 13, 2011, 228 pages – Audio released December 12, 2013, 7 hours 1 minute length) Narrated by Julian Davis.
A audio copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Outside an isolated cabin, winter fog caresses spruce trees. Inside, two men, lovers, have enacted a plan of revenge, kidnapping the handsome son of the man who wronged one of them. Al, the accomplice, has stalked Rob for weeks, and his infatuation for the young man has grown deeper than he ever anticipated.
So much so that he finds himself drawn to protect Rob from the rage and vengeance burning away his partner Jay’s insides. Caring for their bound and gagged captive,with each passing day Al finds his power over Rob a potent and irresistible aphrodisiac and his heart dangerously moved. But Jay has no intention of ever allowing the young man to escape.
The narrator: This is the first time I’ve listened to this narrator and I would listen to him again. He has a hoarse sounding tone which lends itself to the older character Al, but he is able to alter it to create a different younger sound for Rob, which impressed me. I originally thought his voice came off as too gruff, but I got used to it after a few minutes. In addition there were several moments that he gave sound to a gagged captive and eventually moans of pleasure that sounded very realistic, drawing me into the story even more.
The story: I have to start off by saying right away this story won’t be for everyone. Just the blurb is a bit disturbing to me. When I first attempted a listen to this book, I had to shelve it. The subject matter was dark. After reading many books in that time, with a wider variety of themes, some of them violent, I decided to try again. This time, I found myself. quickly, getting into the story.
It starts right away with Al taking care of Rob, a captive that his lover Jay had him stalk for months and kidnap. I couldn’t stand Jay, but Al confused me. I wanted to hate him as well. He has more compassion for the kidnapped Rob than Jay does, but he reveals that he gets a bit turned on by seeing Rob stripped of all his free will. That his forced submission is attractive. I’ve read BDSM and when two parties are willing to participate in bondage and pain, it is something I can grasp. The idea of hurting someone and getting turned on by their unwillingness bothered me.
Those were the things that bothered me in the beginning, and though they never sat right with me, the author gave the characters back stories that twisted my heart as well as my gut. I was able to feel for Al, and I was able to feel his love for Rob and Jay and why he felt for them. I was able to feel for Rob as he was stripped of dignity to when he developed feelings for Al. Most amazing of all I was able to feel for Jay. His life before the kidnapping had been hell. Some of it of his own making, but some was attributed to other factors including prison time and the loss of a loved one at the hands of Rob’s father. I could almost understand his need for revenge, though I couldn’t condone his treatment of the innocent Rob.
Most of what drew me into the story was the hope of redemption for Al. As a middle man between Jay and Rob, I needed him to stop things from going too wrong. I needed his moral compass to be bigger than his love for Jay. I was satisfied with the ending. It could be considered HFN, but it was a hard path filled with hurt and loss. For all the darkness of the plot, it really made me feel, and I consider that a good story.