Author ~ Brandon Shire
Published ~ 12th June 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Power, lust, legal intrigue. This is where sex and injustice meet. Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or, was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny?
The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.
What I love most about Brandon Shire’s epic action/adventure/mystery novel is that, to my mind, it’s really not a “gay” book. Yes, the main characters are gay (as are some of the secondary characters), and there’s some hot gay sex, but that’s almost irrelevant to this powerful story. This is a good thing. It confirms how far the LGBT community has come. Even without its gay content, this would be an intriguing, fast-moving, heart-pounding adventure with more than its share of intrigue, legal shenanigans, big-business conspiracies, murder and mayhem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about the gay content, but even happier that this book is just as good as any national best-seller in the same genre.
What I least expected was for the two main characters, Sid and Jack, to be, in their own way, bad guys. But that shouldn’t have been surprising considering the title, “The Love of Wicked Men”. Sid is a shyster lawyer starting to achieve some regional success, and not even slightly averse to cutting corners to claw his way to the top. Jack is a former military intelligence guy, drummed out of the military for cold-cocking his superior, for which he also spent several years in prison. Upon his release, he put together his own private intelligence team to hijack information from big corporations, intelligence that could be sold for big bucks on the open market.
But this case is different for both men. It’s personal. What the two have in common is that both lost younger sisters to murder or kidnap. Both are living lives trying to deal with their endless guilt over not being able to prevent the loss of their beloved sisters. Jack is determined to find out what happened to his sister, and will use any means at his disposal to do so. Sid has just put up a wall around himself, locking out empathy for any other human being, adopting ruthlessness as his business model.
The complex, but stunning, plot is set in motion when the two “accidentally” come together when Sid is present during the robbery of a store in which he gets slightly nicked by the robber’s knife. When called upon to testify, Sid swears that he cannot identify his assailant, the man sitting directly across from him at the defense table, to the utter consternation of the ADA who thought she had a slam-dunk, but got blindsided by an attorney for no reason she can fathom.
The reason was that Sid thought the guy was both really hot, and could be really useful – a hot man with muscle could come in very handy at times. In reality, the two men are stalking each other. When Sid researches Jack’s background, much of his past seems to have been wiped off the books, leading him to think that he might have found some kind of black ops guy. Not so.
It’s an interesting dance. The two men circle each other. Each knows the other is lying, each thinks the other’s hot. Sid hires Jack to keep him close, while he figures him out. Jack goes to work renovating Sid’s offices where he uncovers bugs planted before he even got a chance to plant his own.
Jack is more overtly kind. He sleeps with random men he’s attracted to, but is always kind and considerate to them. Sid, on the other hand, picks up hustlers for his relief, pays them well, but treats them with disdain (in keeping with his vow of detachment), sometimes overt cruelty, as he did when he outed a bellboy at a bed-and-breakfast owned by the bellboy’s mother. Have faith, though, later in the book, Jack sets that right.
These are two damaged men without proper borders, two dangerous men who can do much harm, including to one another. At some point, they start to feel more for each other than is prudent.
Out of nowhere, Sid is recruited to take the lead in the destruction of one of the nation’s largest and most successful law firms. He will be paid millions to sabotage the bigger firm, dig up all their dirty laundry, and drown them in scandal, their clients, partners and associates fleeing into the night.
It’s a dangerous game. Sid knows this has something to do with the oil companies, because the founding partner of the big law firm is the brother of a woman whose young son died because of chemicals his father tracked into their home - chemicals used in fracking. Under the law, the formula used in the process has never been revealed, protected as a “trade secret”. She is determined to bring the deadly danger of the oil companies’ chemical cocktail to light. Someone is equally determined to stop her, and Sid believes that it’s those forces that are paying him the money to wreck her brother’s powerful firm. He is a threat to the industry, and they’ve hired Sid to defuse that threat.
But lots of people are dying. The man who gave him the thumb drive with all the information he’ll need to destroy his target, has ended up dead, as has the attorney who recommended Sid for the job. There’s a very real risk that, once he succeeds at removing the threat to his client, he will also wind up dead in the inevitable “housecleaning” that follows.
There’s plenty of tension. It’s hard to tell who the good guys and the bad guys are. One of the bad guys is the self-same major that Jack decked – the one he got himself in so much trouble over. The “Major” is determined to kidnap and kill Jack and his crew. Fortunately, he’s not as good as he thinks he is, making attempts in broad daylight, on public highways, with cops right behind them.
There’s an exciting climax with twists galore. One comes from out in left field and changes the whole game, when Sid finds out that he’s not who he thought he was. There’s a powerful woman involved, who knew Jack’s sister well, who killed her and why. Nothing is at it seems.
“The Love of Wicked Men” starts out a little slow while it introduces the characters and situations. Don’t let that put you off. Every following chapter gets faster and more exciting, until you are propelled, at the speed of light, your heart pounding a mile a minute, toward the breathtaking climax.
“The Love of Wicked Men” is extremely well-written, characters consistent and voices clearly delineated, the dialogue is crisp and believable, and little-by-little, the redeeming parts of these wicked men become more and more apparent.
This book was written as a series of episodes, released over a number of months, with input from Mr. Shire’s online readers. That means that the entire work got a chance to season and simmer, leaving the reader of this book with a highly-polished, exciting and moving read.
If you like adventure, legal thrillers, murder, mayhem, monstrous corporate villains and a bevy of very hot gay men, you might just really love “Wicked Men”. It left me with a smile on my face – at least once my heart stopped pounding! Excellent work, Mr. Shire. Excellent!