Company Man

Title: Company Man
Author: Felicitas Ivey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M & M/M/M fantasy romance
Length: 204 Pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

THE BLURB

Shaku Suihana doesn’t remember more than the last twelve years of his life. All he knows is that he is a Company Man, a cold and efficient assassin called in to do jobs without question.

His newest assignment is more inexplicable than most, starting with meeting Úlfur, who thinks Shaku is a man named Shiro—a man who disappeared twelve years ago. When the Company tries to kill Úlfur, it sends Shaku into a tailspin… especially when Úlfur is magically transformed into Leif, a beautiful, younger man who Shaku feels drawn to protect.

Shaku is tired of being in the dark about who he is, but he can’t bear the thought of putting Leif in danger to find out. He decides they should run as far and as fast as from the Company as they can. It’s when he meets a mysterious sensei who ignites both his and Leif’s passions that Shaku realizes his miscalculation: the Company Man might not be the greatest danger around.

THE REVIEW

Having read and enjoyed the previous book by this author, Dreamlands, I was very much looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, whilst the writing was still as good as Deamlands, the story itself was confusing and too heavily reliant on erotic content to for me to highly recommend.

The story begins with us meeting our hero, Shaku. I say hero, but he’s very much an anti-hero at least at first. Shaku has lost all memories of everything that occurred before about 12 years ago when he was selected by the Icelandic based company, Forráðamaður, and turned, through extensive biological modification, into a ‘fixer’. As a fixer he is sent by the company into situations where he uses his special skills to fix problems, usually through a mixture of sex and violence. He is programmed to obey whomever is given authority over him. At the beginning of the book he is sent to Boston where he is told to obey a man called Padrig. Padrig recognises Shaku, although Shaku has no memory of him, and he introduces Shaku to Úlfur, a brain damaged middle aged man. Things are thrown into chaos when Úlfur is abducted and disappears, only to reappear as a young, mentally whole man. This leads to Shaku running from the company to keep Úlfur, now called Leif, safe whilst also fighting his strong physical attraction to the young man.

Company Man is divided into two halves. The first half is the most complex and perhaps also the most interesting and intriguing part of the book. Shaku is not an easy character to like as he is a trained killer and whore who comes across as extremely matter of fact, even cold hearted about his job and what he is trained to do. At first this makes him difficult to like, but as the story progresses and Shaku regains some of his memories as well as starts to display some humanity, then I found myself warming to his character. As the book is written in the first person from Shaku’s point of view, and also because Shaku has a very detached air, it was difficult to really understand the other characters or their motivations in the story. This is especially true for those who represent Forráðamaður because Shaku never questions why he is asked to do the things he does, he just does them, shrugging off any qualms he may have and blaming his modifications for his lack of feelings. As a result Shaku is almost like a robot. One consequence of this is that as a reader I also became detached from the other characters. I didn’t care about them, not even Leif, for whom Shaku does develop slight feelings, and so, unlike many first person narrative stories which allow you a great deal of insight into at least one character, I had no real insight into any of the characters.

The world building in the first half was quite unique, but also rather confusing. It is never clear what the sinister company of Forráðamaður actually deals in, although we are told that part of their mission is to create demon hunters who kill the demons that threaten humankind. Other than that, and their supposed altruistic charitable donations, the company is a shadowy threat always on the horizon, bent on unknown nefarious deeds for what purpose we are never really told. When the story begins and Shaku is brought to Boston, I thought that the story would involve Shaku fixing some problem with the Boston branch of Forráðamaður, especially as that is the focus of the first part of the story with Shaku landing in Boston and having a boardroom meeting. Then the story takes a sharp left turn which seems to come out of nowhere and suddenly Shaku is on the road protecting Leif from Forráðamaður for a reason which is unknown right up to the end of the story. To say I was a bit surprised and a confused by these turn of events is an understatement and I found myself wondering what the purpose of the whole first part of the book had been.

Once Shaku and Leif are on the road the story takes yet another turn and the second half of the book is made up of page after page of sex between Shaku and Leif, followed by the introduction of another character for no apparent reason than an opportunity for ménage sex and a possibility of escape and a happy ending for Shaku and Leif. For those of you who like lots of sex in their books, this might be a bonus, especially as much of the complicated world building is set aside as Shaku and Leif explore each other instead. The sex is well written, but suffered again from that lack of connection because of Shaku’s detachment from himself and his surroundings. The book does end with an explanation of sorts as to why Leif is as he is, why Forráðamaður are trying to kill him and a HEA, but all that information is crammed into the last 30 pages leaving me with an impression that the book is a mass of confusing plot twists plus lots of sex.

I’ve given Company Man three stars just because it has some interesting ideas and the writing is good. However, the plot is too overly complicated and the last half of the book too heavily weighted in favour of sexual content for me to highly recommend this book.

22 comments

  • Oh great. This is the book that I won the free copy of and haven’t had the time to yet read. I was hesitant anyway because of the blurb/excerpt…….but was enough intrigued that I signed up for the chance to win. Maybe I’ll read this one first and then “Dreamlands” so it can only get better.

    • Hi Sherry
      It may be that you’ll like this more than me. I say go for it. As you say, you can always read Dreamlands afterwards, which is definitely the better book by this author :).

  • I agree with your review Jen but my complaint also was why the writer felt the need to create a whole new world when this story could have worked in her existing one (from Dreamlands) as well.

    • Hi Ingrid
      You are right the demon hunting aspect of this book is very similar to Dreamlands. The only thing that differs in a way is that the way the Icelandic company was set up and run became an important aspect in understanding what happens with Leif. Otherwise it would have been quite easy to fit thia book into the same world as Dreamlands.

  • Hi Jen, great review. I know you didn’t read mine prior to the book but they’re very similar. We had the same problems and still liked the writing. I thought the ending was just bizarre and after all the sex (omg) .. I was left wondering what happened.

    I am curious though..did you think it was odd how Shaku was suddenly into D/s with Leif after his almost bland personality? He never really cares or questions his life so his insistence on being in control of Leif never made sense to me. But at least they could have sex nonstop and not be sore.

    • Hi Kassa
      Thanks :). I shall have to go and look at your review now. I’m always curious to read other reviews of a book once I’ve written my own reviews.

      As for the D/s thing between Shaku and Leif, I saw it as Shaku making a decision to wrestle some control back in his life. Since his training and modifications, he has been the one on the receiving end of any rough sex, taking the submissive role. By purposely changing that and dominating Leif he is separating that previous life from the new one he wants with Leif. Plus he is giving something to Leif that he didn’t give to all those men he has whored for in the last 12 years. does that make sense? That’s how I viewed it anyway :).

      • *noddles* I can see what you’re saying. I didn’t quite see it that way but I do see what you’re saying. I also didn’t think of Shaku offering Leif something special but maybe!

        Thanks for answering though..was very curious on your thoughts for this book.

  • Alexi

    >>God. Really bitchy today. Maybe I should eat some chocolate…< < A couple pounds should help you today. 🙂

    • The first pound is already consumed (and well on it’s way to my hips). Sometimes chocolate is the only answer. If men realised this, there would be less wars.

  • If the characters are just horny toads then I’m really not that interested in the story. Jen thanks for persevering and writing the review. I remember how much you loved Dreamlands. At least the world building in the first half of this book was great.

    I wish authors wouldn’t assume that all readers want is lots and lots of sex. Gawd, I can get that in a one hand read.

    • Thanks Wave :).

      It wasn’t such a hardship to finish the book cos the sex was well written. I just didn’t see the necessity of it.

    • LOL! I am actually sat here, right now, with half a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar. Thanks, Jenre. I had a not so great day, and I guess this unfortunate author is getting the brunt of it (which wouldn’t be so bad if I’d actually *read* the book). Whoops.

  • And to think that my problem with her last book was that there wasn’t *enough* smex! Still, I can see myself re-reading Dreamlands someday, whereas I can’t imagine I’ll pick this one up at all…

    • Hi Alexi
      There has to be a balance surely? I felt that a number of the sex scenes could have been cut from this book without harm to the plot or character development.

      • Well, if I have to make a choice I’d rather read a book that leaves me hungry for more sexy bits (this is how I feel about most of Josh Lanyon’s work) than a book where, by the end, I’m skim-reading every time the clothes come off because I’ve got Smex Fatigue.

        Some books can get away with this because they’re cuddly comfort reads (most of Sean Michael’s work, for instance) but if you’re going to set up all this violence and conflict and stuff, like this story appears to, you need to put a bit more effort into resolving that and a bit less into working out yet another variation on how tab A can fit into slot B (with the possible addition of tab C midway through just for the novelty of it).

        Wow. I’m bitchy today.

          • Thank you! It’s true, though, isn’t it? I love smex in my books as much as the next m/m obsessed woman, but how much better is the smex when it actually *means* something?

            Like: this scene shows the characters anger with each other and their resistance to the relationship. This one shows how vulnerable the top is while displaying the bottom’s inner strength. This scene shows they’ve finally accepted their love for each other. Aw. Those are the kinds of scenes that *really* get you revved up because your emotions are involved, not just your hormones.

            If every scene just means that the characters them are horny as hell and nothing more, you might as well be watching free porn on your computer. I don’t buy m/m romance novels for that. Smex Fatigue sets in really fast when sex on the page is just sex, and doesn’t move the story or character development forward.

            God. Really bitchy today. Maybe I should eat some chocolate…

  • Hi Tam
    I was confused by the blurb too. It’s difficult to condense all the ideas in the first part of the book into a coherent summary. I had trouble doing it for the review.

    The first half of the book was basically the plot and the second half the smexin, so technically there was lots of plot in the book.

  • I was totally confused by the blurb. Not good. Doesn’t sound like something that would appeal to me. I like smexin but not at the exclusion of plot.

    • *lol* I’m glad I’m not the only one, Tam. 🙂 Add the amount of smexin and it’s not my book.

      Jen, I wonder how you managed to write down the name of the sinister company. Somehow it seems those signs go hand in hand with the confusing blurb…

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: