Erryn reviews Antidote (Don’t… Book 2) by Jack L. Pyke. The second edition of the book was released by Men in Ink Press on April 28, 2019 and is 459 pages. The audibook was released July 29, 2019 is narrated by Dan Calley and is 15 hours and 4 minutes. An audio book was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: I loved book 1 and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
“Us. We’re okay, aren’t we, mukka?” (Jack Harrison)
Video footage of Jack sleeping with Cutter, a man who mutilated teenagers for his own sadistic streak, should have stayed dead and buried with the man who had filmed it. Yet when footage of Jack’s past starts appearing on internet porn sites, Jack’s whole world is again turned on its head. At first the porn links are done to unsettle, to disrupt Jack’s fire-and-ice world: all the sexed-up adrenaline of being caught between the pleasure of Gray Raoul’s BDSM kink and the gentleness of Jan Richards’ vanilla touch. But when the content of the porn sites force even Gray to turn his back on Jack, leaving Jack isolated and away from the full protection of the Masters’ Circle, Jack is left at the mercy of a group of men who are out to alter Jack’s whole perception on his BDSM lifestyle and the reality of being Jack Harrison.
As brutally as possible, Jack’s sex life is now a live webcam feed for a whole new audience.
Read Erryn’s review of the audio of book 1 here.
This book comes with a strong trigger warning – but it’s only visible on the first page of the actual book. It doesn’t appear on the blurb. It should, but things don’t always work that way. So I’ll say it now: BUYER BEWARE. This is a dark psychological thriller. This isn’t dubious con, this is non-con. This is a book that exposes the level of human depravity. This book goes where most don’t.
And it’s a fucking amazing ride.
As with the first book in the Don’t series, I knew I was getting dark. That’s okay, I like dark. It’s BDSM, but often the negative sides of the lifestyle. That’s okay, I knew going into it that this wasn’t a warm and fuzzy book with people who understand safe, sane, and consensual. But I was consenting to be taken on a mind fuck and man did this book live up to its promise.
Jack is the damaged soul around whom the story revolves. He has a number of psychological disorders including Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). But those are just labels and although they are part of him, they don’t define him. He is more than just those illnesses. He’s also a man who fell under the spell of a powerful psychopath when he was a teenager. That damage was far more lasting than anything else and that relationship continues to haunt him, even as an adult.
Jan is a man along for the ride. He met Jack quite by happenstance and they’ve fallen into a vanilla relationship of sorts. Jan is soft in all the right ways, caring for Jack. I’m not always sure he gets as much out of the relationship, but he seems happy enough. There is even, in the end, love there – I think.
Gray is the man who rescued Jack all those years ago and has kept him close but at arms-length ever since. Only at the end of Don’t did he admit his feelings for Jack. He is Jack’s Master and their relationship has been defined by their membership into the Master’s Circle. Jack is a professional submissive, training would-be Doms. Gray is the mentor who oversees the training. He is also a serious badass. Just sayin’.
This is a long book. Worth the listen, but long nonetheless. The real meat of the story starts when Gray receives a video of Jack being abused by Cutter (the psychopath) all those years ago. I’m not sure why, but it really pushes him over the edge and he sends Jack away. What follows next is the most horrific period of Jack and Jan’s life. Given all Jack has endured, that’s saying something. The scenes are disturbing and I was never quite sure what was real and what was part of some drug-induced haze. How the men survived, I’m not quite sure.
See, psychological reconditioning sounds relatively innocuous. In real life it can be incredibly damaging. Think of the conversion therapy camps where children are sent so the ‘gay’ can be prayed away. Only the hell Jack and Jan endure is so much worse. Part of the reconditioning involves the phrase “a real man…” How many times has that phrase been used to hurt young boys or men?
There is always a question of who is involved at the top and I’ll say I didn’t see that coming and will leave it at that.
This is a disturbing book and not for the faint at heart. But I truly enjoyed it and hope the next book will come out soon. I got a satisfying ending but it definitely left me wanting more.
Dan Calley is an amazing narrator. He was able to take me to dark places with dark people and yet never lose the humanity involved. He has great voices for each character and his skill was on full display. Well done.
10/10 pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Jack blames her dark writing influences on living close to one of England’s finest forests. Having grown up hearing a history of kidnappings, murders, strange sightings, and sexual exploits her neck of the woods is renowned for, Jack takes that into her writing, having also learned that human coping strategies for intense situations can sometimes make the best of people have disastrously bad moments. Redeeming those flaws is Jack’s drive.
Jack’s also a contract editor, working with Dreamspinner Press, DSP Publications, and Harmony Ink. She’s also had the absolute pleasure of editing exceedingly talented indie authors like Adrienne Wilder and Joseph Lance Tonlet.
Basically this all means Jack finds herself incredibly humbled to write, edit, and read solely in the M/M romance genre, with a particular love of psychological thrillers, BDSM, and crime.