Author ~ Alexa Land
Published ~ 16th February 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Mystery
Eighteen months ago, a mysterious arsonist set a fire intended to kill Dante Dombruso’s entire family. After a year and a half with no answers and no justice for his loved ones, the pressure’s getting to Dante as he searches desperately for clues and the trail grows ever colder.
When a lead finally surfaces, Dante’s husband Charlie insists on being a part of the chase, even though they could be barreling into a potentially lethal situation. Charlie’s not like Dante, who spent his life in organized crime. No way should someone that innocent be in the middle of what’s about to go down. And what will Charlie think of him if he watches Dante unleash his inner demons? But Charlie isn’t taking no for an answer.
Dante has always been his family’s armor, the thing that keeps them safe. But he feels he failed them the night of the fire, and now he’s driven to make things right. Whoever was behind the attack has to pay for what they did. And Dante needs to stop them before they strike again. Because next time, the Dombruso family might not make it out alive.
This Firsts and Forever Series novella is part MM love story, part thriller, and is approximately 34,000 words in length. It contains graphic sex and explicit language, and is intended for adults only.
This novella, told from Dante Dombruso’s point of view, wraps up the arson storyline from book 11, The Distance. In the year and a half since a fire that could have killed most of Dante’s family, he has been investigating the arson, along with the police department’s investigator Cameron Doyle, and seeking the people who set it and the people who hired them. At the top of Dante’s list of suspects is his cousin Jerry and the rival Messina family. When a solid lead finally appears Dante, supported by his closest family members, goes on the hunt, but when the time comes will he be able to do what has to be done in order to ensure the safety of his loved ones?
We really get into Dante’s head here for the first time. This lingering investigation is just the latest way Dante feels he has failed to protect his family and the guilt is eating at him. Dante has been carrying the weight of what he considers his obligation to protect his family since he was a child. When both Charlie and Vincent insist on being a part of things it ratchets up Dante’s fears. He worries what Charlie will think of him if he actually has to take out Jerry, and about Vincent not being there for his husband and children, but mostly he fears that if anything happens to Charlie during all of this, he won’t be able to go on without him. Charlie really is his rock and is able to ground him like nothing else.
With so many stories and new characters since Dante and Charlie’s story played out in book two, All In, there hasn’t been much more than peripheral page time for them, so I was thrilled to get Dante’s view of how his life with Charlie has changed. Dante and Charlie’s relationship has deepened and evolved, both emotionally and sexually. They have a tremendous amount of love and respect for each other and by the end of this novella it is clear that they have truly become equals in the relationship. They are sweet and sexy and fun to read.
I really liked spending a lot of time with the original core of Dombrusos and seeing Dante and Vincent working together. Alexa Land managed to convey how much these two brothers understand each other and the bond they share. Of course it wouldn’t be a Firsts and Forever story without an appearance by Nana, wreaking some havoc and spreading love.
There were a couple of occasions of mild info dump, reminding us who is who and what has happened surrounding the fire in The Distance. I found this a bit unnecessary and a bit of an interruption in the flow, considering the family tree and recap sections at the start of the story. Other than that hiccup, the story moved well with plenty of action, humor, love and sex (with spanking!), a giant penis and plenty of appearances from characters you know and love. There was good balance between spending time with Dante and Charlie quietly as a couple, and the investigation plot. I was happy with how it all wrapped up and that not everything played out as I expected.
With Dante and Charlie now feeling free to move on with their lives, I hope we’ll be getting peeks of them again in upcoming books. Once again, with some focus here on Cameron Doyle, there is now another character’s story I’m eagerly awaiting.
Meet Alexa Land
I'm a true believer in happily ever after, and writing is my passion. My character-driven books include the best-selling Firsts and Forever Series, which is set in San Francisco. I grew up in Southern California, spent over a decade in the Bay Area, and now call a small town in Oregon home. My son and I share a vintage cottage with an indifferent cat and a hyper dog, and I spend my days writing about men falling in love. My books will make you laugh and shed an occasional tear, and they always deliver a satisfying HEA.