Monday, December 30, 2013

SAFEWORD



TITLE: SAFEWORD
AUTHOR: A.J. ROSE
Pages: 270
Date: 30/12/2013
Grade: 5+
Details: no. 2 Power Exchange
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Everywhere Detective Gavin DeGrassi looks he’s reminded of his attack by the Breath Play Killer. It’s in the house he lives in with his partner and Dom, Ben Haverson. It’s in the sympathetic yet pitying looks he receives from his fellow detectives when he returns to the force after a year-long hiatus. It’s in the suffocating coddling of his entire family, and the relentless reporter demanding an exclusive of his ordeal.

Most of all, it’s in his lack of submission to Ben, who isn’t convinced Gavin’s recovered enough to trust the power exchange between them.

The miraculous recovery of two teen boys from a twisted kidnapper gives him heart, and Gavin's determined to prove he can handle anything despite increasing strain between him and Ben, painful nightmares, and panic when anyone touches him.

But his next case is too close for comfort: a friend and colleague found raped and murdered in a fate chillingly similar to what could have been his own, and this killer isn’t stopping with one cop. As the body count rises and taunting souvenirs are being hand-delivered to Gavin, he faces a frustrating lack of leads, a crushing need to prove himself, and a sinking suspicion the imprisoned kidnapper’s reach is further than originally thought. A miasma of uncertainty and fear threaten to suffocate him when he asks a question with which he’s overwhelmingly familiar: what happens when a victim is pushed too far?”

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I was going to start this review by saying that I fell in love with three men while reading this book. And then I got this sense of déjà vu and decided to have a quick look at my review of “Power Exchange” and wouldn’t you know it? Those exact same words can be found there and while the sentiment is still the same, I won’t bore you be repeating myself too much.

Having said that, my feelings about this book are pretty much the same as the ones I have for ‘Power Exchange’. A.J. Rose has managed to find what for me is the perfect balance between a good and heart-stopping mystery, a wonderful and gripping love story and very hot scenes. There is not a single boring paragraph in this book.

When the story starts it is hard not to get immersed in Gavin’s pain, Ben’s helplessness when it comes to lighten that load for the man he loves and the strains it is putting on their relationship.

“How could I give my whole self to him if I no longer recognized who I was?”

When Gavin and his partner Myah are put in charge of the investigation of the brutal murder of a colleague, my heart literally constricted. I saw so many ways in which this could harm Gavin’s slow road to recovery I almost wanted to walk away from the book.

I should have known better of course. I should have trusted this author and his characters. As the investigation grows ever more gruesome and frustrating, Gavin and Ben find the strength to face their combined and individual demons. Everything that could so easily have thrown them back into the darkness – the nature of the investigation, the fact that Gavin is apparently being targeted again -  all the stress and doubt that might have caused them to give up, instead forces them to delve that little bit deeper. The love and connection between these two men only grows more intense in the face of all that might destroy them and slowly Gavin is able to let go of his demons – one by one.

“The last of my walls, once ironclad in the wake of our trauma, crumbled like the turrets and battlements of a sandcastle, demolished by a smooth, powerful wave.”

Then there is the way this author uses his words. And here I run into a problem. I don’t think I have the words to do A.J. Rose’s words justice.  I could just say that his words touched me, and that would be true, but it wouldn’t be enough. Maybe saying that his words resonated with me would be more accurate but it still doesn’t quite capture what I feel. So, instead I’ll give you a quote and leave it up to you to decide whether or not it is one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever read.

“We stood in our living room on the precipice of understanding. The way behind was full of doubt and fear, of tiptoeing around each other and letting our past define us. The way forward was treacherous and exhilarating, full of possibility and risk and awakening. I knew which way I wanted to us to tip.”

I cried when Gavin was able to surrender again. That moment filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears.

“I’d found it again: complete and wholehearted trust.”

I think I may have to apologize again. This book is as much a mystery as it is a love story and my review all but ignores that first aspect of the story. Let me stress that the mystery in this book is good, well plotted, thrilling and heartbreaking. And this time I didn’t beat the detectives; I got to the solution at about the same time they did.

There is a part of me that wants to cry because this may well be the end of Ben and Gavin’s story. Like I said before, I’ve fallen in love with these two characters and could happily read another ten books about them, regardless of what they would end up doing next. But, on the up side, I know that A.J. Rose is close to finishing a new, completely unrelated, book, and I’m rather excited about that. I also know that this is going to be a long book, and that makes me even more excited. I can’t imagine this author suddenly producing characters who fail to steal my heart or a story that won’t keep me captivated from the first to the very last word. And if the worst comes to the worst and my withdrawal symptoms become too hard to bear, I can always reread Power Exchange and Safe Word. I don’t revisit books very often; there are just too many new books I’m curious about being released all the time. It’s quite possible though that these two books will end up on the list of exceptions to that rule.

“Nothing mattered but him in my arms. The job, the house, none of it. It was stuff. He was my everything.”

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