Title: Re-Entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5)
(Superpowered Love Series #5)
Author: Katey Hawthorne
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance / Paranormal
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Unusual superpowered realism – post prison rehabilitation, personal growth and intense personality revealing sex.
Blurb: Malory Claremont was born and raised to be the villain in someone else’s story, complete with fire-based superpowers. But then his cousin and former partner-in-crime, Brady, led him into a trap, and he’s been in superpowered lockdown ever since.
When he gets out on parole, he meets Theo McCracken, a cold-superpowered ex-offender. Theo has a modern Hamlet-style past, dangerously pretty eyes, and a hunger for affection that even Mal’s best defensive efforts can’t deny for long.
They’ve paid their debts to society, but society doesn’t care–from blackmailing coworkers to suspicion from the neighbors, it’s hard to catch a fair chance. Pile that on top of their dark family pasts haunting their every step, plus all the leftover abandonment issues and paranoia, and it feels like just a matter of time before they’ll be shoved right back into prison.
After all the people he’s hurt, Mal isn’t sure he deserves a chance to live his own life, to choose his own labels, to be his own man. But maybe having someone like Theo, someone who can love him and be loved, scars and all, could make the whole endless struggle worthwhile.
The Superpowered Love Series
It seems to me that Katey Hawthorne likes to give her readers a challenge. This novel while set in the superpowered world of her previous work, explores with a very close sociological focus life after prison. Although it follows on few years after Riot Boy, reviewed here, our new hero is self styled super villain Malory, Brady’s cousin and one mixed up guy from that book. Mal is now in the parole system. The style of this book initially surprised me. For a story with a strong paranormal theme this felt more like a study in realism, a detailed insight into a system for the rehabilitation of offenders, just that in this case they happen to be super powered.
However set against this somewhat depressing if very believable backdrop of restrictions, group therapy, crappy jobs and social stigma, the two main characters vividly come to life. Malory is the main personality here and we get to know him intimately. He evolves from a whiney, hard done by, but hard to love character into one who is thoughtful, hopeful and has a sharp self awareness, without losing the edginess that makes him interesting.
This story is not a straight forward saved by the love of a good man prison rehabilitation romance. Risk taking Theo is even more damaged than Malory. Both guys have abandonment issues, but Theo’s are on a Shakespearean scale. I really liked Theo’s extremely messed up personality. There were some interesting echoes of Brady going on too. However, horny self interest is developed gradually into a lovely twisted relationship full of a kind of delayed adolescence intensity intertwined with situational maturity and care.This translates into lots of hot and cold exploratory almost teenage sex leading to emotional empathy and then finally to a pleasing protective but healthy love. Good times.
It took me a while to really warm to Malory. I completely loved Etienne and Brady from Riot Boy, and I found it hard to change my allegiance. So I particularly hated it when Mal talks about Brady betraying him. By the way, Katey Hawthorne has a free short, Willoughby Spit linked here, which is from Brady’s point of view and set in between the two novels. It’s gorgeous sexy relationship enhancing stuff.
Although it often felt like the guys were back to back defensively set against the world, other nicely drawn characters realistically interacted to help or hinder them. They face a mix of professional care, friendly kindness, thoughtless homophobia, bullying and blackmail, but all on a believable scale. Mal’s various reactions to this realistic mixed social stimuli reveal his growing self knowledge and control.
I found this an unusual novel; the realism of the writing style has definitely moved on in gravitas from the slightly shadow nuanced paranormal escapism and feel of light hearted euphoria I got from the first two books in the series. Once I adjusted my expectations and accepted this understandable evolution- because otherwise an author is just rewriting the same book- I enjoyed the new experience. Just like Malory, I learnt something.
Recommended and another fabulous cover.