“Stitch had never felt such desperate love for anyone but Zak.” — K.A. Merikan
Title: Road of No Return (Sex & Mayhem #1)
Author: K.A. Merikan
Pages/Word Count: 238 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: — Don’t talk to strangers. —
Zak. Tattoo artist. Independent. Doesn’t do relationships.
Stitch. Outlaw biker. Deep in the closet. Doesn’t share his property.
On the day of Stitch’s divorce, lust personified enters the biker bar he’s celebrating at. Tattooed all over, pierced, confident, and hot as hellfire, Zak is the bone Stitch has waited for life to throw him. All Stitch wants is a sniff, a taste, a lick. What follows instead is gluttony of the most carnal sort, and nothing will ever be the same. Forced to hide his new love affair from the whole world, Stitch juggles family, club life, and crime, but it’s only a matter of time until it becomes too hard.
Zak moves to Lake Valley in search of peace and quiet, but when he puts his hand into the jaws of a Hound of Valhalla, life gets all but simple. In order to be with Stitch, Zak’s biker wet dream, he has to crawl right back into the closet. As heated as the relationship is, the secrets, the hiding, the violence, jealousy, and conservative attitudes in the town rub Zak in all the wrong ways. When pretending he doesn’t know what his man does becomes impossible, Zak needs to decide if life with an outlaw biker is really what he wants.
As club life and the love affair collide, all that’s left in Zak and Stitch’s life is mayhem.
Review: K.A. Merikan’s books can be a lot like life’s little box of chocolates—when you open them, you never quite know what you’re gonna get from one page to the next, and though sex and mayhem is promised in the series title, and is delivered on in abundance, there are still some unexpected things among the predictable between the covers of this book that kept me turning pages and wondering what sort of drama this story’s leading men would create next.
I love a great antihero every bit as much as the next reader and Stitch Larsen is nothing if not an antihero. When it comes to fictional broken men, he does a credible job of breaking the mold. Is he a psychopath? A sociopath? Or does he just suffer from a severe case of Antisocial Personality Disorder? The answer is, at times it seems he suffers from all three simultaneously, only to turn around the next moment and show signs of being a decent guy who says sweet and floridly romantic things that feel entirely out of character for him, which, good or bad, kept me off balance throughout the entirety of the book.
Being in the closet for all twenty-seven of his years, some of those spent married to a woman and fathering a little girl, Stitch’s man vs. himself conflict is a constant throughout the narrative, and while it served to shape his character for the first half of the book, creating some very good internal and external angst, by the second half of Road of No Return I experienced a gradual decline in my ability, or maybe it was my willingness, to commiserate with his struggle because so much of Stitch’s turmoil—turmoil outside of his being gay—is brought on my himself. Amongst all the other aptly named mayhem happening alongside his efforts to accept that being gay didn’t make him less of a man, and falling in love with another man wasn’t a show of weakness or a glaring character flaw, Stitch’s violent outbursts and sheer obtuseness in the face of Zak’s justifiable anger made it difficult at times to continue to empathize with Stitch, but, having said that, he’s at least consistent in his inconsistency. Stitch is nothing if not mercurial.
Zak Richardson is yet another dichotomous character at the forefront of this novel. He is at once the voice of sanity and reason, then shows an admirable level of disregard for each of Stitch’s morally, ethically, humanly and otherwise questionable acts. At times I adored him, at others I wanted to slap the shit out of him for continuing to forgive Stitch’s abhorrent behavior. While that may sound as if I had no reason to like Zak, though, it’s quite the opposite. I liked Zak a lot because he fell victim to one of the classic blunders. No, not a land war in Asia. Zak fell in love with a man who came with a metric butt-ton of baggage, and that made Zak human. Flawed, without question, but human.
Sex, as the series title also dictates, is profuse enough that I lost count of how many times Stitch and Zak tried to fuck their problems away, causing them to fall victim to another one of the classic blunders—I won’t tell this one, though, because it would reveal too much about the climax of the story. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t much of a surprise when things went tits up for these two men in their small, homophobic Louisiana town. The arc of this novel is both credible and, at the same time, begs for the suspension of disbelief. Was it a bit over the top? Possibly. Probably. But considering everything that had come before, it wasn’t unanticipated.
In spite of some of its flaws, one of them being that I feel the book would’ve benefitted from an American editor; another being that some of the minor characters were borderline caricatures of some familiar archetypes, particularly with regards to the shrewish ex wife; finally, some of the drama being somewhat exaggerated for effect rather than plot development, I liked that the authors kept me just that little bit off balance throughout the whole of the narrative. While I don’t feel Road of No Return is anywhere near as compelling or skillful as this duos brilliant Stung, this novel gets full marks for pushing the envelope in the M/M genre and writing outside of the conventional romantic norm.
You can buy Road of No Return (Sex & Mayhem #1) here: