Banished gangster Benito Martell is living on the edge. An explosive hook-up in a club gifts him the relief he craves, but nothing about his life is ever so simple. Complications abound, and before long, he’s falling for the only man who can save his family from eviction.
Recovering addict Mickey Larwood has worked hard to leave his past behind. He can’t look back, not even for the beautiful Benito, the last soul on earth he expected to steal his heart—a soul who’s knee-deep in the underworld Mickey has run hundreds of miles to escape.
Benito can deny it all he wants, but Mickey can smell trouble a mile off.
And Benito is trouble with a capital T. As his desperate lies unravel, so does the fledgling love that’s grown between them. If Benito wants deliverance from his old life and a future with Mickey, old ghosts need to die.
If they don’t kill him first.
“I love you but I don’t like you…right now.” Have you ever heard that phrase? It’s straightforward but complicated and an accurate oxymoron in this case. I felt this contradiction in Benito and Mickey’s story. I’m not saying Garrett has a dark side but this series certainly falls into the shadowed corner of her bookshelf. You won’t find any frills or coddling here. If you’re looking for angels and saints, I’ll save you the trouble and advise you to keep on moving. Do you want fluff? Sorry, you won’t find any here. But how about a mixture of despair and hope so potent that you’ll feel straight down to your bones? Would you like a tale about two men so focused on ferociously battling their own demons they don’t even realize they’ve mistakenly fallen in love? Then hold up! But wait, is love ever a mistake? I don’t think so and I’d imagine Leigh doesn’t either.
More often than not, forgiveness is there if you ask for it. Benito has a hard time asking for anything let alone that. After he fell from the top he longed to be free. However, life as a road boy claims many things, including your independence. He must buy his freedom and it’s not cheap. What he wasn’t expecting was to lose things along the way that were even more valuable than drugs and cash. He’s breaking apart and every crack is deeper and wider. Mickey is a survivor. He’s acutely aware that the iron vise grip of addiction may lessen but never disappears. He escaped from the very life Benito is desperately trying to cut ties from. He can’t go back, he won’t. He built his walls for a reason. However, the hot hook-up at the club obliterated all of his barriers. Mickey likes it rough in the bedroom (or hallway, corner…wherever) and craves a release only a few have been able to give him. Benito bites back but ultimately lets Mickey take everything he needs. As it turns out, he needs it too. Suddenly, they both discover their hearts are making demands and their souls tie before their very eyes. Then nitty-gritty emotions take over and Garrett does what she does best.
When I think of deliverance, I think of strength. And I can’t think of a more fitting description for Benito and Mickey. Yes, Mickey is a survivor but Benito bears his own scars. After the death of his father, his mom remarried a monster. The only blessing he brought was the priceless gift of his sister, Gianna. Benito lives for her and his mother, even if can’t stand to be in the same room as her. And then one night Mickey catches him in his laser stare and he suddenly has one more reason to get out of bed every day. He wants to be a better man. He wants to be proud of the man in the mirror. He wants to start fresh and atone his sins. He just can’t seem to catch his footing on the slippery slope he’s been sliding on. Once he pays attention, he realizes he’s not alone and there’s more than one helping hand available. But is it too little too late now? I wish I could tell you but you’ll have to make that discovery yourself.
Naughty meets naughty and it’s oh-so-nice. Rescuing oneself from one’s self is often the hardest battle you’ll ever fight. Gang life isn’t pretty but who we are isn’t defined by a moment or the past, you can change course at any time.
Life is full of angst these days but if you’re willing, you will see why this is worth it. Garrett takes the sunshine away only so we can see the brilliance of the hidden stars. Trust me, they’ll take your breath away.