“Lust is a dangerous thing. It can make you believe things that are not real. It can seduce your mind and lead it blindfolded to the cliff that will be its demise.” ― Alessandra Torre
Author: Iyana Jenna
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Pages/Word Count: 16,604
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Blurb: When actor Sean O’Reilly receives a flower bouquet containing a single black rose on set, he assumes they’re from his boyfriend Nate. But they aren’t. Flowers keep arriving for him after that, each with a black rose in the arrangement. Soon other things arrive as well, such as photos and a recording of Sean’s voice. As the number of flowers dwindle with each bouquet, Sean begins to worry they’re supposed to be some kind of a countdown … but to what?
Fan Gene Scott worships Sean. He maintains a blog dedicated to the actor and writes out all his fantasies there. He wants Sean to belong to him, and only him, and he’ll do anything to make the actor his own. He can’t accept the fact that Sean has a boyfriend. To Gene, Nate might as well not exist.
Despite increased security and all efforts to keep him safe, Sean vanishes, and Nate feels as if his world has come tumbling down. When the police response is too slow for him, Nate enlists the help of his producer and bodyguard to find Sean. Will he manage to find his lover before Sean disappears forever? Or will Gene finally get what he’s always dreamed of, and make Sean the love of his life, instead?
Review: I was immediately attracted to this story because it promised to defy a lot of conventions as far as the genre goes. This story is not a saccharine tale of doting lovers finding themselves on the road to a happy ever after. This was a dark story, written from a place of obsession and madness that was sure to chill the blood in my veins. For the most part, it delivered on its word. I liked the story a lot.
Sean and Nate were two great characters, loving and monogamous and, despite being in the limelight as part of their jobs, they were just your average couple. This made the events that began to unfold even more jarring. The author depicted these men as relatable gay men, the kind you meet every day, and then filled their world with bouquets of flowers containing ominous black roses, which quickly lead to the collapse of their world as they knew it.
I feel that the story gave a comprehensive view of the rationale behind all the characters motivations. I was rarely left asking any questions because the action was hand-picked to answer any niggling feelings the reader might have about what was going on. It was very nicely punctuated with a series of blog posts that held a threatening tone that something bad was happening and then, as Sean was taken, the pressure was on for everyone involved. The Scott men were interesting characters. It was a very different relationship to read. Gene was clearly mentally unstable, and Simon was acting as his carer of sorts. Gene seemed quite dark and threatening, and at times was described as a large muscular man, which I felt may have been a little unnecessary in an attempt to sexualise him through the forced sex encounter, but overall, his character was just bat-shit crazy and this was expressed well. His brother’s motivations were harder to fathom. I was not entirely sure why he was involved in this kidnapping instead of seeking help for his brother, as he was never portrayed as cold or callous, and seemed to always have his brother’s interests at heart. I think Simon’s character, though he was the cause of the eventual rescue of the protagonist, may have been a bit too conflicted for my liking, and his motivations rung a little less than true for me. This didn’t stop me enjoying the story; it just made me a little unsure.
This was a well written story, one filled with the swell of ominous strings and a darkness not often synonymous with the male romance genre. It was also written in present tense third person, which I generally don’t get on that well with, but I think in this instance it added a certain urgency to the story and allowed it to travel away from one characters perception to be told by several characters all in different places at different times. The writing wasn’t perfect, and I felt a few more editing checks may have been necessary, but again, that didn’t ruin the story for me.
The ending seemed a little sudden and conflicted. It was obvious that Sean was devastated by the attack, the latter descriptions of him seeming like the road ahead was a long one. However, after all these descriptions about how hard the journey would be, the author suddenly seemed to say everything would be okay. It was a little abrupt, and I would have liked to have seen the story finished through the eyes of Sean himself instead of a peripheral character, to see that this character genuinely thought he would survive the trauma. As a reader, I wanted that character to express that with his partners love and protection; that it would all be alright for them. Without this, it didn’t seem like much of a happy ever after.
A good book filled with suspense, and something different to read between the heartbreak of traditional melodrama. I give this book 3.5 stars and recommend it to fans of mystery and crime-related stories. There is little by way of sex (which was perfect for this kind of story) and it was nicely narrated to completion. A fine new addition to Jenna’s literary work.