I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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I was approached by the author about a review for this book. The blurb doesn't really tell you a whole lot about who (and what) Shige is, but I was intrigued so I said yes.
I'm glad I did. This was an interesting and enthralling read, despite the multitude of grammatical and spelling issues that a good editor or proofreader should have found.
Phil, a nurse, is in dire need of some time off. He basically works, comes home to take care of his dog Hugo, eats, sleeps, and goes back to work. His shift is the graveyard one, so he's awake at night and asleep during the day, which doesn't really make for much of a social life. But now he's got some vacation coming, and his good friend decides they both need a night out on the town.
While at a club, Phil meets Shige, a handsome stranger. Attraction is instantaneous and mutual, and they spend a night together.
Then weird things happen.
I won't spoil the plot here, but suffice it to say that the book had a myriad of interesting characters and doesn't focus on the romance between Shige and Phil. Evil forces are at work, and the relationship doesn't develop naturally because of those, as Phil and Shige don't spend a whole lot of time together, and even when they do, they keep getting interrupted.
While Phil and Shige are interesting and engaging characters on their own, I didn't feel as if their relationship truly developed outside of the potential supernatural attraction they felt. Shige's mysterious aura, combined with his unwillingness to reveal his secrets, made for a contentious relationship, and though Phil eventually believes what his eyes (and everyone else) are trying to tell him, he too expresses a reluctance to commit. Not that I blamed him - if your entire life is suddenly uprooted because some guy you met a club whisks you off to his lair because of having put your life in danger, but doesn't tell you what's going on, you'd be pissed off too.
The author did a fine job with the world-building. There was no info-dumping, and information was revealed slowly as part of the plot. There's a myriad of supporting characters, and the atmosphere created here is often dark and mysterious. The book kept me interested, and I didn't feel bored at all. The dialogue felt organic and believable, and I liked that Phil didn't take any crap from Shige or anyone else unless he absolutely had to. I also liked that he wasn't written as a "damsel-in-distress".
What bothered me a bit was the ending - this wasn't advertised as the first in a series, and I was a bit surprised when I came to the end without having a HEA or even a strong HFN. There are still too many open questions, and I wasn't all that happy to find that the 2nd book isn't finished yet. While we leave Phil and Shige in a somewhat good place in their still developing relationship, their story isn't done, and I wish I had known this before starting this book. I wouldn't call it an absolute cliffhanger, but it wasn't a real ending.
I mentioned the editing issues - on occasion, they would yank me out of the flow, and I recommend that the author get a good proofreader to fix those issues. I'd hate to see folks miss out on a good book because they can't get past the errors.
This was my first book by this author, but I'm definitely interested to see what they cook up next.
** I received a free copy of this book from the author. A positive review was not promised in return. **