Author ~ Lynn Kelling
Publisher ~ Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Published ~ 12 April 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M, Dark Erotica
It’s Jaye Larson’s nineteenth birthday, and all he wants is to spend time with his boyfriend and his mother—the people he loves most and who make life worth living. But, faced by his mother’s demons, the imperfections of his relationship with boyfriend, Kris, and dangerous, homophobic strangers, one by one, all of Jaye’s dreams are soon derailed. Plunging into a waking nightmare, shortly after going to bed alone, he wakes in an alley, pinned down by two men with slow, bloody rape and murder in mind. It’s just the start of Jaye’s fight for his life, and his sanity, as time and time again, he’s forced to make impossible choices and survive, no matter what it costs. (M/M)
For additional details, including content labels, see imprint story page
Although this is a prequel to Lynn Kelling’s Arctic Absolution (a 5 star read for me), the books can be read in any order. If you’ve read Arctic Absolution you’ve probably already fallen in love with Jaye Larson and you know he has suffered horribly in his short life, but is a survivor. PLEASE heed the warnings that come with this story; there is graphic violence, brutality, and sexual assault among other possible triggers.
This isn’t a romance. It’s the story of Jaye’s transformation from a happy, optimistic teenager, to the scarred young man we meet in Arctic Absolution. You’ll see just how he became the Jaye who craves Dixon’s protection, is fiercely loyal and would go to great lengths to protect Dixon in return. This is where Jaye is broken almost beyond repair, only to rebuild himself. It takes the reader through most of his prison sentence where he learns how to play the part of prisoner, of Cash’s property, of the young, scared man who doesn’t want trouble. He also learns how to do whatever is necessary to survive.
The Jaye we briefly meet at the start of this book is long dead by the time Arctic Absolution starts. He is celebrating his 19th birthday with a planned dinner with his live-in boyfriend Kris. He has the job he always wanted at a clothing shop and remains optimistic even though things with his boyfriend aren’t perfect and his mother is struggling with drug addiction. After seeing Kris off to visit his family, Jaye returns home and goes to bed only to be awoken by two men dragging him out into the alley behind his apartment with all intents to torture, rape and kill him. After barely surviving the attack, he is truly alone. In the hospital there’s a text from his boyfriend and one missed call from his mother. He never sees or hears from them again. Through his recovery and trial there is no one and he is soon sent off to serve out a two year prison sentence alone.
On his way to prison he realizes what his pretty looks will mean and he comes up with a plan to save himself. Jaye is scared and desperate, but he’s also smart. His instincts served him well before so he follows them again. He plans to give himself to Cash the boss of the Disciples, in exchange for protection. Once inside he becomes “Johnny” and Johnny is Cash’s prison bitch. That means nobody but Cash touches him without permission. Cash is Johnny’s protector and takes that oath seriously. Cash sets the terms and it’s a business agreement, beneficial to both parties. Cash can’t always be there though and those are the times when Jaye’s fears about his vulnerability all seem to come true. His alliance with Cash also makes him a target for anyone that feels Cash has wronged them including rival prison gangs and guards taking advantage when opportunities are presented.
Cash is one of those gray characters you think you should hate, but he is integral to not only Jaye physically surviving in prison, but also to holding onto his mental stability. His mental state has been slowly unraveling since his assault. The ghosts of the men who started it all won’t leave him alone. He hears them and he feels them. He seems to be adjusting and holding on until it comes time to pay off his debt to the guard that is helping Cash’s crew; it’s more than Jaye can handle and he almost completely shuts down. Cash offers him strength and companionship, and there may even be some affection there, but there is not a romance between the two. Even though at times it seems to comfort Jaye, sex with Cash is never confused for anything other than the act of release, payment or a show of power.
Lynn Kelling excels at writing characters who have been damaged and go through an arc of healing and transformation, but Jaye’s change is so extreme and happens over such a short period of time and under such horrific circumstances, you will truly be awed by the strength that he shows, even when barely hanging on. From Arctic Absolution we know he gets through it, though he still struggles with his mental health after his release, which made it a bit easier to get through this story. Heartbreaking doesn’t adequately describe the extent of his torment, loss and pain. Seeing Jaye take back his power, fight the hold his attackers still had on him and transform himself was gruesome, terrifying and thrilling all at once.
Again, this is dark and it’s hard to read. Jaye suffers brutal assaults, rapes and torture. There is a lot of hopelessness and fear, but there is also this utterly amazing character in Jaye who will get under your skin from the moment you start reading and carve out a place in your heart.
Dixon Rowe is a good man and a good cop who keeps finding himself in bed with the enemy. After he picks up a young ex-con named Jaye Larson for stealing food, Dixon is seduced by the possibility of helping someone truly in need. He tells himself he’s assisting young Jaye out of the goodness of his heart—not because of how sexy Jaye is under all of the tattoos and defiance. But temptation entangles them as the malicious ghosts of Jaye's past return to haunt their every step. Jaye’s ghosts are bad enough, but the demon from Dixon's past is real enough to put both of their lives in danger. (M/M)
Story Page: http://forbiddenfiction.com/story/lk1-1-000188/
Meet Lynn Kelling
Lynn Kelling began writing in order to tell stories that aren’t afraid of the dark, don’t hold anything back and always strive to be memorable, forging lasting attachments between character and reader. Her inspiration comes from taking a closer look at behaviors and ideas lurking at the fringes of life—basically anything that people may hesitate to speak of in mixed company, but everyone wonders about anyway. Her work is driven by the taboo in order to expose the humanity within it. Lynn is an artist, designer and lover of any form of creative self-expression that comes from a place of honesty and emotion, whether it's body art or opera. She has had multiple novels published, has written over seventy works of erotic fiction of varying lengths, and always has several novels in progress.