Title: Six Degrees of Lust (By Degrees: Book One)
Author: Taylor V. Donovan
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 350 Pages
At a Glance: Six Degrees of Lust reminds us, once again, of how consummate a storyteller Taylor V. Donovan is, and how rich and detailed her stories are.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: 2nd Edition
New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong, he sticks to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.
Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston, and after years of waiting, he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud, and drama-free. His politically aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.
One man is as high-strung as the other is laid-back. A chance meeting brings them together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved, but they might not be able to keep apart.
First Edition published by MLR Press, December 2011.
Review: Somehow I missed this incredible novel the first time around—lucky for me that author Taylor V. Donovan decided to republish this one. I am reeling from how extraordinarily good this book is—just stunning. It is the first in a series and so be forewarned that it ends without any of the major plot points being resolved. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we have a cliffhanger. Luckily the second in this series is already available, so if you are a fan of this one, as I am, you can go straight into the next. But, let’s take a moment to savor Six Degrees of Lust and enjoy meeting Sam and Mac for the very first time.
Sam is a Special Agent with the FBI who leads a task force investigating the serial killings of gay men in at least three states, possibly more. They all have the same characteristics, blond, young twinks. Lev, short for Leviticus, the book of the bible our killer is fond of quoting and leaving at the crime scene, is relentless in his hunting, and Sam and his team are stymied time and again as they track this vicious killer.
Sam is bisexual and absolutely religious in his own no strings attached approach to sex. No relationships for Sam, no emotional ties—not since his ill-fated marriage and the loss of a baby daughter, something that we brush up against time and again but still are not privy to exactly what happened. We only know that Sam blames himself, as does his ex-wife, Gabi, for their daughter’s death. Little does Sam know that he is about to meet a man that will challenge everything he holds dear—his own tight control over his emotions and his almost manic need to remain unattached.
Mac is running from his own set of demons—his family. Locked into a five-year promise not to come out to the public due to his father’s political career, Mac is chomping at the bit as that time constraint draws to a close. He has been firmly in the closet for years, and is more than worried about how to break his homosexuality to his closest friends, most of which are gay and unsuspecting. But Mac’s family is not yet finished torturing him, and there is definitely some unfinished business there that looms large in his life—a secret we wait on pins and needles for Mac to reveal. Mac wants it all—the romance, the relationship, the white picket fence. Instead, he settles for a set of rigid rules set up by Sam and becomes Sam’s friend-with-benefits. Neither man has the least idea that their “casual” affair is about to morph into something neither of them is ready for and are terrified of to boot.
Surrounding these two men is a secondary cast of characters who are more than just window dressing in this novel. They breath life into the pages they inhabit, as do Sam and Mac, and create an entire world for us to dwell in, a world that is both wonderful and frightening. Lev is a psychopath and I swear I thought at least three different times I just knew who he was, but I am pretty sure I haven’t an actual clue. The mystery portion of this novel is so intricately entwined with the slow moving romance arc that the two blend together to produce a delicious story that moves at such a pace it often dazzles the mind.
I cannot say enough about this story; it was so very well done. It kept me on the edge of my seat, desperate to find the murderer, worried that Sam would push Mac away once too often and lose him entirely, frightened for the side characters—some of whom resembled so closely the kind of victim Lev stalked and killed. There were so many plot points dancing all at once, all so magically woven together, so incredibly enticing and intoxicating. That is indeed what this novel is—intoxicating from beginning to end.
The second edition of Six Degrees of Lust reminds us, once again, of how consummate a storyteller this author is, and how rich and detailed her stories are. If you have not read it yet, do not delay. This is an amazing novel and the story has just begun!
You can buy Six Degrees of Lust here: