Title: A Dangerous Game
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M romance
Rating: 3.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: In the worst of circumstances and in each other’s arms, one man finds love and the other finds his reason to break free from his past.
Blurb: On the worst day of his life, Wren Gallagher loses his wallet, his job, and his security. Can a stranger met in a bar deliver on his promises of wealth and meeting Mr. Right? Sex can be a dangerous business. So can love….
On the worst day of his life, Wren Gallagher wants oblivion when he steps into Tricks for a drink. He’s lost not only his job, but his wallet as well. When a mysterious stranger steps up to pay his tab, he also offers Wren the key to fulfilling his dreams of prosperity and true love. But appearances are not always what they seem….
His savior is the owner of the escort agency, A Louer—and he wants the young and handsome Wren to work for him. So down on his luck, Wren figures—why not? He can use the money. When he joins, though, he hadn’t counted on meeting Rufus, another escort with whom he quickly falls hopelessly in love. But their love story will have to overcome the obstacles of not only trading love for money, but A Louer’s dark—and deadly—secrets.
Review: Wren has lived his life in near poverty but always had his mother to fall back on–she was his security. The day he loses his job he also finds out that his mom has been given the opportunity to move out and into her own small apartment as a perk of her promotion at work.
Suddenly Wren finds himself homeless, nearly broke and desperate enough to move in with his ex boyfriend, Devon–the smarmy sex addict. After a disastrous first night with his ex, Wren realizes he has to move on–and the offer to become a male escort that had been extended the previous night looks better and better.
In a fit of desperation he takes the job and is immediately set up with a mentor–Rufus. Their first job has them thrown into bed with each other and an immediate attraction bursts to life between the two men. However, through a series of events, Wren comes to find out that Rufus is a recovering coke addict and later finds that he is also part of a blackmailing scheme that the owner has been using to extort money from wealthier clients.
And then the murders begin….and no one is safe.
Rent by Rick R. Reed had many good moments. Wren discovering Rufus’ story about his addiction was poignant and powerful and perhaps one of the finest character sketches I have ever read. My heart broke for Rufus as I listened to his story as told in first person–with Wren reading it–amazing writing!
Then there was Wren’s inner dialogue as he argued with himself about becoming a prostitute–and then after reading about Rufus–realizing that he was indeed falling in love and could not remain in the escort business any longer and remain true to himself. When he found the strength to walk away, not only from the money but from Rufus as well, it was simply heart wrenching. I felt his turmoil–felt his struggle and ultimately cheered him as he left.
There were tender moments between these two men that tugged at my heart and I appreciated that while they were both deeply affected by each other, the author opted not to make this an insta-love story but rather had the men work through the incredible obstacles that kept them from being a couple.
However, despite all these finer points, the mystery element to this novel was weak and a bit too contrived for my liking. I felt no sense of urgency–no imminent danger or tension that made me want to turn the page just that much faster in order to discover who the killer was and/or their motivation for killing.
The mystery element was shallow–never fully fleshed out and therefore I felt that the latter third of the novel simply meandered–and lost its focus. There were also pieces that didn’t ring true for me such as the compassion with which Rufus treated the murderer who had killed his best friend and this was just after being attacked himself and watching Wren attacked as well. I just scratched my head in confusion. This felt so untrue as compared to the rest of the story.
So, dear reader, in the end I could only give Rent by Rick R. Reed a rating that spoke to the love story element and had to give a pass on the mystery piece of the story. I felt this novel started strong only to lose steam and focus by the end.
However, as usual, dear reader you must decide for yourself. This was my first novel by this author and I feel it is important to note that I will be reading another of his work. He has real strength as a writer and I would like to see how his other novels fare in comparison to this one.