Many thanks to Veronica Rundell for the fantastic 4 STAR review at Amazon!
4.0 out of 5 stars
Dark and gritty M/M love story amid a deep cover operation
By V. Rundell of V’s Reads on October 12, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a dark contemporary spy novel that features a M/M love story, hard drug use, deep cover, dubious consent, death, and destruction with a happy ending.
Connor Finley and Shawn Weller are operatives in Shadow Unit, a inter-national cadre of soldiers and infiltration specialists (think ex-CIA/MI5) that go in and “get the job done” against mega-badguys. They are also covert lovers, having built a friendship over the course of years, and now being a committed couple for the past five months. The current mark is Jae Chan, an arms dealer operating out of Kuala Lumpur. Jae likes his men drugged out and biddable, as Shawn discovers as soon as he’s able to catch Jae’s roving eye in a gay entertainment club run by Jae. Connor’s hired on as club security, but Shawn’s the one who’s in the most danger.
If you take a gander at the cover, you’ll see cut lines of drugs. Expect Shawn to be pushed into taking both cocaine and heroin in order to maintain his cover, and get close enough to Jae to get the necessary evidence. Also, Jae’s going to use Shawn rather horribly, and Shawn’s guilt over both betraying his lover, and getting dependent upon the drugs, is a tough journey to experience. You may also notice the title is: BROKEN SOLDIER, because Shawn gets REALLY messed up in the process of maintaining this covert-op. I’ve never read a book with so much hard drug use, and it wasn’t pleasant, from a voyeuristic standpoint. I’m a gal who got raised in the “Just Say No” era, so I’m not fascinated by drug-culture. I did feel as if the experiences were described with an eye to reality, and nothing about this situation with Shawn is positive. He’s trying to romance a scumbag drug-dealing arm-dealing bully, and he knows his life is constantly on the line.
Connor has to watch from afar, and provide as much back-up as he can to Shawn without tipping off Jae’s many bodyguards. Meanwhile, seeing Shawn be used and abused make him furious–and he’s really worried about the seemingly constant drug use he witnesses. Will Shawn make it through this mission intact? Will Connor blow their cover to save Shawn?
I’ll tell you, it was a bit harrowing. There’s a good build-up of suspense, with death on the menu. The climax wasn’t nearly the end of the book–because we still needed to see Shawn get off the junk. If anything, this book obliterated any hint of desire I may have ever harbored for heroin. Ugh. Yuck! That said, the walk-back from the edge that Shawn experiences in Connor’s loving embrace was very tender.
This is a work of fiction, and I know that reality is likely not as convenient as the set-up in this book, but the situations felt authentic, and interesting. The emotional dilemmas and hard choices within reflect a seedy subculture that I’m sure exists, to some degree, somewhere. I liked the strong love between Connor and Shawn, and I’m looking forward to following their dangerous adventures.
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