Author: Wayne Mansfield
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Length: 81 Pages
Category: Erotic Horror
At a Glance: A story with a unique plot but moved a little too fast.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Nathan Crosby has a gambling addiction that cost him almost everything he owns. When he tries to run out on newcomer Leroy in a backroom poker game, his troubles escalate. Leroy is not what he appears to be, nor does he have any intention of letting Nathan off the hook. On the contrary, he has an extremely interesting way of obtaining all he is owed.
Unfortunately for Nathan, the payment will be far larger than the initial debt. He will be marked by every lie he has ever told, and the punishment won’t end there — he is forced to join a circus peopled with others who have crossed Leroy.
It isn’t all bad, though. He’s introduced to Karl, the circus strongman, whose caravan he shares, and the two develop strong feelings for one other. But is the love of a good man enough to soothe the agony Nathan must endure as part of his punishment? Is there an escape from his bizarre new life? And, if there is an end, will Karl be there with him to enjoy it?
Review: Nathan Crosby is a gambling addict who is deep into his obsession, ready to lie, cheat and do whatever he can to continue with his habit. He decides to run on a debt he incurs with a man named Leroy. Leroy is a whole different thing than Nathan has ever encountered, and soon Nathan is paying dearly for his choices in ways that are beyond comprehension.
Nathan finds himself in a traveling circus and learns not all is at is appears with those he encounters. They are all there, and stuck there due to one man. And there is no escaping. Nathan bunks with the circus’ strongman, Karl, and they develop a relationship of sorts while Nathan tries to figure out a way to break out of the place that has become his prison.
There are some good points. The premise of the story is pretty twisted and unlike anything I have read before. It had a couple very thought provoking lines:
“Unfortunately, sometimes in life the consequences far outweigh the actions. This, Nathan, is one of those times.”
Nathan’s punishment was different from anything I have read, and I thought it was an interesting penalty for his actions. The idea of someone’s poor choices making such an impact, and the resulting changes of that person as they look within themselves, could have been amazing.
Could have been amazing. But wasn’t. Though the story had promise to become something wonderful; it missed the mark for me. The best word I can use is rushed, and I couldn’t get invested in the characters or with Nathan.
I didn’t really like Nathan in the beginning, and the fast pace of the book did not give me time to begin liking him. It was more about what he was going through and how to get out of it, but not a whole lot changed or was time spent on thinking about the choices and actions that landed him in the circus, with tattoos covering every inch of his body. I don’t think I really ever saw remorse for his prior behavior and the man he had been.
The entirety of the story took place in a little more than week or so, from beginning to end. Nathan and Karl’s relationship evolves almost immediately, but with little talking between the two. I never got to really know much about Karl, and had a difficult time seeing the connection the two protagonists developed.
I really wanted to like the story, especially given the uniqueness of the plot. Unfortunately, it was too short and too quick, with little character development, and left me wanting what could have been.
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