Title: The Trap
Author: Indigo Wren
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (214 pages)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Buda
Summary Review: A more-than-meets-the-eye book that will affect you deeply, if only you let it.
There’s no escaping the man at the heart of his memories.
Three years ago, David and his college roommate, Ethan, were on the brink of unimaginable success, ready to revolutionize an industry and reap billions. Then David accidentally revealed the attraction he’d never wanted to feel, and certainly never meant Ethan to see. Mortified, he ran from everything that mattered—the fledgling company he’d helped to build, the bright future he’d worked to secure, and the man he couldn’t let himself want.
Now he’s built a new life for himself. So what if it’s not the one he hoped for? He’s learned to look only forward, and not to envy the success Ethan achieved without him. He’s even learned to cope with the nightmares. The panic attacks. The failed relationships with women.
When an opportunity arises to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime getaway to a private island resort, David never suspects a trap is about to be sprung. One where he’ll be forced to face the truths from which he’s been hiding—and the man from whom he’s never stopped running.
It’s best to begin with the “warning” from the publisher: This book contains erotic waffles, sexual math, blatant ABBA worship, kidnapping, nude napping, dog-napping, journal hijacking, betrayal, redemption, and red-hot man love so poignant and passionate, you won’t know whether to say “awwwwwww” or “oooooohhh!”
Now doesn’t that just make you want to read it?
Three years ago, just as David and Ethan, his best friend and roommate in college, were on the verge of seeing their internet-based company get the financing it needed to get off the ground, something happened (you’ll have to read the book to find out what) to cause David to flee from Ethan. He has watched Ethan’s success from afar while attaining a much more modest amount himself. But since that night in Santa Fe, he’s had recurring panic attacks, nightmares and only unsuccessful romantic relationships.
Now, drained and in need of rest and relaxation, David has booked the vacation of his dreams at a private island resort. What he doesn’t know until he arrives is just how private this island is. He also doesn’t know that Ethan has set up the entire vacation ruse to get David alone for the first time in three years–the trap of the title. Once the helicopter that deposited David lifts off, the island’s population is exactly three–David, Ethan, and Ethan’s dog, Bella.
To say that David freaks out when he sees Ethan is an understatement. Ethan’s plan is for David to give up total control to Ethan for the week. David, the ultimate control freak, absolutely will not let that happen. So he spends a couple of days and nights outside on the beach and the woods, dealing with midnight rainstorms and creepy crabs before he finally ventures back to the house. This is the slowest point in the book, but stay with it. All the good stuff happens next.
There are two paragraphs in the book that are essential in understanding (and, sadly, misunderstanding) what Ethan hopes to accomplish with this “trap”. First, “This is me stopping you from slamming your eyes shut and pretending there are no stars and that you don’t want to see them anyway.” David clings tightly to control of everything because he is full of fears–fears he won’t even let himself see. That is absolutely not to say he is a weak character, because he definitely isn’t. His tongue alone is sharp enough to cut deeply. He wields sarcasm like a weapon.
The second paragraph is: “‘You were trying to connect,’ explained Ethan gently. ‘You needed to bond. And your subconscious understood instinctively what it needed to do to engage mine, because the submissive in you recognizes the dominant in me just as surely as if our bodies were flashing pheromone-soaked signal flags at one another.'”
Both times I read this book, that paragraph and, specifically, the words “submissive” and “dominant” jumped out at me, screaming, “No! That’s all wrong!” Because what Ethan is trying to get David to understand about himself, is that he can give up control over a situation and still be okay, be free, be loved. He is afraid to trust Ethan–or anyone else–with the absolute truth of who and what he is inside, because one of his major fears is rejection. Ethan needs David to know that at David’s most vulnerable point, he can trust that Ethan will still be there and that David will not be “less-than” in Ethan’s eyes for admitting a weakness. What Ethan needs David to see is that David is already bound by emotional restraints that are far more powerful than any physical restraints Ethan could ever put him in. After all, that is why he ran from Ethan three years before–because of his fear of rejection and his fear of himself (there is one greater fear he has, too, and it is mentioned twice). That is the genesis of the panic attacks and nightmares he has suffered all these years. And that is what Ethan is trying to help David overcome.
From the moment David returns to the house from his misadventure on the beach, there is never a question in the reader’s mind that Ethan is madly in love with him. David, of course, is afraid to believe that is possible; Ethan, of course, never says it in so many words. But it is there, and it is both tender and passionate. The sex in this book, especially the hot tub scene, is scorching because there is so much going on in David’s head and heart, and it’s about so much more than Tab A, Slot B.
One of the things I loved so much about this book was David’s snark. He’s a genuinely sarcastic and funny guy. When he first arrives at what he believes to be the resort, he notices there is no check-in desk where he would “surrender an imprint of his credit card. Not that there was likely to be anything so crass as a credit card machine in an exclusive resort like this. Place like this, they probably just brought you a smoothie of blended champagne, truffles and caviar while they ran an IV drip directly from your money market account.” The sarcastic exchanges between the two men are brilliantly done, but I’ve given so much away that I don’t want to give examples and ruin the surprise.
Personally, I thought the idea of Ethan setting up the whole vacation scenario was brilliant and, perhaps because of the nature of the book, romantic. David hurls accusations of kidnapping at Ethan, threatening to call Interpol and all sorts of things. But once he settles down from the shock of Ethan’s presence and the realization that he cannot go anywhere until Ethan lets him, I don’t think David minds so much.
The biggest issue I had with the plot was the Big Misunderstanding at the climax. But without that, the other reveals wouldn’t have been quite as effective, nor would the end scene have been as poignant. So, because it worked to forward the resolution in a way that otherwise could have been awkward, I am willing to overlook it.
The end of the book moved me to tears both times I read it. (Perhaps I am more like David than I am comfortable admitting. If so, then I’d love to hear from the [unknown] billionaire from my past who is still pining for me. Wave can give you my phone number.) I believe this is Indigo Wren’s first published M/M romance and I very much look forward to reading her next effort.