Author ~ Alexis Duran
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 2nd November 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Mystery/Suspense
From Louisiana swamp rat to revivalist huckster to skilled con artist, Matthias Krall clawed his way out of poverty using his natural gifts of grift and manipulation to become the leader of an exclusive retreat center. Exploiting the guise of spiritual guru, Matthias seduces the rich and powerful into turning over their lives and fortunes to his control. But wealth and a small cadre of loyal followers can’t protect Matthias from the betrayal he knows is imminent. Everyone wants what Matthias has, except for one man who wants to destroy it. Dylan Connelly is a reporter who’s determined to prove the charismatic recluse is not only a fraud but a murderer.
Irresistibly drawn to Dylan despite the warnings in his gut, Matthias lures Dylan to his island retreat, determined to destroy his enemy once and for all.
The story of Matthias, starts in a similar fashion to book one (Gideon) – back in time. The recruitment process to the Black Knights. It outlines the meagre beginnings and an injustice inflicted by those with money. A wizard appears offering a version of immortality, retribution and riches – an enticing combination in the wake of tragedy. The contract stays in place through each lifetime, until the get-out clause is activated. The story then switches to a more modern setting, where Matthias is the owner of Rising Star - an exclusive retreat which uses hypnosis to convince its patrons that they have what it takes to succeed in life. The place coins the phrase, ‘I’m easy to get on with - as long as you worship me’. There are rumours the retreat is a cult, especially as Matthias’s sexual appeal is used to non-exclusive effect.
Dylan is the dogged investigative reporter who after the loss of a friend, believes something shady is going on at the retreat. The combination of the death, an article, a history between Dylan and Matthias, and a lingering fascination both men have for each other makes for interesting times ahead.
The story is well written and edited. But, what I enjoyed the most was the mental cat and mouse that goes on between the main and supporting cast. This isn’t a traditional whodunit because a bad boy is kind of identified early on. There again, others could be involved. There is a cover up by those in the pocket of the retreat, and mind games are played during the collection of evidence. Both sides use personal information like a weapon. It’s sneaky and I liked it.
In the middle of this the main characters need to deal with the heat that freely flows between them. There is resistance, but Matthias sees Dylan as his prey and is unwilling to stop until his quarry is subdued. The question is, who will come out on top. Especially considering there’s a voice inside Matthias warning him how dangerous Dylan is.
At the retreat, management differences over how clients are handled is also a factor that affects the story. After all money and greed are powerful allies. But love and friendship often throw spanners into the works. Either way, Dylan’s presence is a catalyst for change.
Matthias is a story of manipulation, rather than bullets and bombs. Separating friend from foe, good and evil between a high heat rating made for an engaging read.
Order of the Black Knights Book 1
Gideon by Ashe Barker
Gideon Maybury enjoys a life of wealth and privilege, not to mention the advantages his position offers him in his career as a merchant banker and his less public life as a high-class, skilled, and very well-paid assassin for Her Majesty’s government. When his brother dies unexpectedly, he becomes the Duke of Westmoreland.
Michael Mathison has hated Gideon since they were at university together. He’s convinced Gideon had a hand in the death of Michael’s college lover, Christopher, and that he had something to do with the death of his own brother. So he gets a job as Gideon’s driver, enabling him to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the elder Maybury sibling. At first his suspicions seem to be confirmed, but clues emerge that suggest all is not as it appears at Maybury Hall.
As the mystery deepens, so does the attraction between the two implacable enemies, as does the feeling that they have met before—under dark and terrible circumstances. Each has reasons not to trust the other, but neither is averse to a bit of kinky play. Gideon and Michael end up owing each other their lives, and it results in consequences neither could have imagined.