The Trap

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.

The Blurb:

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.

The Review:

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.

Highly recommended.

62 comments

  • What I first wrote was an angry defense of the book. Thanks to Coach Wave’s guidance, all you got here were the words of a guy who absolutely loved the book.
    My review on Goodreads is more along your original lines, lol.
    In a way if a book does promote this level of antagonism/loyalty it must be doing something right…
    In a recent interview, I was asked:”What do you think makes a good story?”
    In my answer I said: “I like a story that can carry me along with where ever it wants to go. This has to happen from the first few sentences. Along the way, I’m willing to suspend disbelief if the author’s craft and voice has “blinkered” me and is leading me by the nose. I can even cope with characters I don’t inherently “like” if the author has a good enough reason to make them that way in the first place.”
    I must admit I had “The Trap” in mind when I gave that answer, but that sums it up for me as a reader.
    And I agree with your comments on the unwillingness(laziness?) of some readers to appreciate and understand single POV stories.
    Have they even heard of unreliable narrative?
    There are a couple of authors who do this really well, Jay Lygon in her “Chaos Magic” series where the narrator is definitely missing a lot of “clues” and even in Syd McGinley’s Dr Fell series, if you don’t listen to the other character’s dialogue and just relied on Fell’s interpretation of events you’d have a very different impression of what’s actually going on.

    Reply
    • Ha! AB, I saw and “liked” your Goodreads review. 🙂 I completely agreed with you, of course, including preferring a single POV.

      Your answer to the question is brilliant! A friend of mine recently wrote his first book, with a serial killer protagonist. I fell immediately into the story because he hooked me in the first paragraph. It was even difficult not to like the serial killer by the middle of the book because he was so achingly human.

      One of the things that people were screaming about was the D/s element. As a person who lives with panic attacks and is claustrophobic, as David is, that is the first thing that made me slightly uncomfortable. But the way Ethan, in the kitchen scene, turned the situation around–didn’t he leave one of David’s hands unbound?–into something that not only didn’t hurt David, but lit him up, was the first realization that David and I could both trust him. After that, the “D/s” element seemed much less about what I would consider “Domination” and more about giving David the opportunity to face his fears and re-learn to trust Ethan at the same time. Of course, that may be what D/s is all about, I don’t know. But Ethan’s approach was loving and tender, and that worked really well for me.

      Your book Caught is on my mind today since I just posted the review a few hours ago, but I was just thinking what a different book it would have been if we’d had access to Taylor’s head. There is a time and place for dual POVs (multiple? meh.), but Caught and The Trap were definitely not either.

      Reply
      • Thanks Buda.
        I did get the feeling that Ethan was using the methods of D/s rather than trying to be “in the scene”. One of the things I liked best about the story was the way David resisted fully submitting.
        Take the sex scene where he resisted coming because he felt Ethan wasn’t getting anything out of the encounter himself. It happened at another point in the story too. So I never got the feeling this would be a D/s relationship long term.
        If I’d have changed anything, I would have developed this concept of trust further. David could have pointed the hypocrisy of Ethan not trusting him when the BM blew up and Ethan believed what he heard instead of trusting that David’s actions may have been deliberately hurtful.
        The whole theme of “The Trap” is trust and the different ways it should be taken into account and manifested.
        As for getting inside Taylor’s head in “Caught”, if and when I write the sequel “Bound” which I have roughed out and takes place a year later. I’ll probably do it all from Taylor’s POV.
        I had a discussion with Heidi Cullinan a while back about “Special Delivery” and point of view and her comment was: I did a single POV in SD because I thought it was going to be thirty thousand words. (ha!) And then it just worked to stay with Sam. In the end, I like it as a discpline, and it makes it more his story. I’ve written another in single POV since then, and I think I may do it again soon. I choose POV carefully: I’ll only use the POV of someone who has a growth arc in the story. And to me, Mitch didn’t change a whole lot. He did, but just a bit.
        Mitch is another character who some reviewers found “sleazy” because it’s only as Sam gets to know him and the reader also does through their encounters and dialogue that we see the complex and likeable man he is.

        And as for liking a serial killer? His name isn’t Dexter by any chance is it?

        Reply
    • I finished the book.
      Like a couple of people said, you need to suspend disbelief a couple of times, and the ending was a little too pat for my taste, but it was probably a nice twist.
      I note it has garnered some pretty stringent criticism on Goodreads, but this is mainly because readers found Ethan creepy at the start and disliked the “kidnap” aspect.
      I put this down to the fact that too often stories are being told from two POVs so the reader knows immediately that they love each other.
      However,as you mentioned, Buda, the minute David walks inside the house you know for sure Ethan loves him. The clues were there before, except David was too scared/afraid to read them.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the comments, AB! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

        I did something I never do before writing this review–I read what other people had posted. Most of it pissed me off, to be honest. People were hanging up over the most bizarre things (blaming Ethan for David spending a few nights outdoors, or whining about the “kidnapping” angle, or the tying of David’s hands, or the color of the keys–okay, maybe not the color of the keys but I’m not so sure that complaint isn’t out there somewhere!). What I first wrote was an angry defense of the book. Thanks to Coach Wave’s guidance, all you got here were the words of a guy who absolutely loved the book.

        What you contribute to the prevalence of the two-POV style, I blame on reader laziness. (How much hot water is that statement going to get me in?) Much like students, many readers want every single thing explained to them, they don’t want to be required to think. (Teachers? Care to back me up?) This book required thinking. But though it was told solely from David’s POV (and rightly so), Ethan’s thoughts and emotions were quite apparent to the reader through the narration, even if, as you say, David was too afraid to read them.

        I agree that the money angle was a bit too indulgent, but it did seem in keeping with Ethan’s character–his love for David wouldn’t let him do otherwise. That it was as much as it was has to be a requirement of the whole private-island/billionaire angle.

        Whew! 🙂 Thanks again, AB. It was nice to get some of that off my chest.

        Reply
  • Bought this yesterday after reading the review and rec…and I absolutely loved it! I enjoyed the banter between Ethan and David, and thought the premise was both original and intriguing. And the sex?….absolutely melted my screen 😉 I hope this author has another release soon! Thanks Buda for a great review!

    Reply
    • Oh, Elaine, I’m so thrilled you loved it, too! I’m thinking if sex with Ethan is always like the that, he could “kidnap” me any time! Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it! 😀

      Reply
  • OK, so another one here who downloaded and read this book almost immediately after reading Buda’s review. Stayed up half the night reading. I really, really enjoyed this one. The plot was different and fairly unpredictable, which gets kudos from me. I found the sex was completely erotic and scorching. Gah.

    Buda, as far as the sexual mathematics. Hmm, don’t think I would use it for quite the same purpose that David was, but still, perhaps learning square roots by the “repetitive drilling” technique might yield…..results.

    There was so much great dialogue – especially from Ethan to David – throughout most of the book (and also going on inside David’s head) that I was left wanting more of a “wrap up” discussion between the two at the end – especially considering the BM. This did not keep me from thoroughly enjoying the book though, and it was made obvious the characters knew how they felt without getting “wordy” at the end. As Buda said, the ending was very poignant – in fact the last few paragraphs are definite “Awwww” material. 🙂

    And as a side note from someone in a dog profession, the author was spot on about positive reinforcement and counter conditioning – works on dogs… and people 😉
    Great job by the author.

    Reply
    • Dianne, I am so happy you enjoyed The Trap–and the sexual mathematics! I love the “repetitive drilling” idea! Isn’t David’s head just a crazy place to have access to? The guy is a riot with the dialogue, internal and external.

      Reply
  • I got this yesterday after promising myself no more books till Christmas- I’m addicted to my Kindle.I’m blaming your review for needing the hit!

    Really enjoyed it ,had to suspend disbelief but didn’t care as the intensity carried the action.I thought the set up was brilliant the second half less so, but still it got David and Ethan where they needed to be.

    Reply
    • Raine, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And I’m thrilled I could further your addiction! I swear I have not let my Kindle sit idle one day since I got it. It’s ridiculous.

      Reply
  • Damn
    I have so many LONG books to read and review it will be 2 weeks at least before I can get to The Trap but I’m definitely going to make time for it. Would you believe I have another frigging 300 pager to review. What is wrong with these authors? Don’t they know I like books that are 16 – 20 pages? lol

    Reply
    • “What is wrong with these authors? Don’t they know I like books that are 16 – 20 pages?”

      LOL. You gotta tell ’em that you’ll only review books that can be tweeted from now on Wave. That’ll show ’em! 😉

      Reply
      • Make fun of me TJ. Wait till your eyes are crossed – not that mine are at this point but it’s getting there, SOON. Damn authors!!!!

        I’m getting my own tweeter, you’ll see. 🙂 Laugh at me now but I’ll be famous (at least in my own mind).

        Reply
    • Eh, just put off the books for review until later. Fill the site with freebies and author profiles/interviews and no one will notice. 😉

      16-20 pages is not a book, Wave. It’s a pamphlet. Anything under 150 pages is too short. 🙂

      Reply
    • @Wave – Please don’t say that: I’m a fast reader and by the time I really get into the story, most books are already over! Call me a frustrated size queen, but I’m thrilled if they even hit 200 pages.

      Reply
  • B – you lost your 5 star cherry! 😉 What a great review! You’ve really intrigued me and I’m gonna add this to my TBR list. I can’t believe it made you cry at the end though. I’m liking the softer side of Buda.

    Reply
    • TJ –
      I know, can you believe it? Not like you, who gave it up to the first book that asked. :p

      How’s that for the softer side of Buda? lol

      Reply
      • It was an inspired suggestion, Wave. Thank you for thinking of me when this one crossed your desk. I loved it immensely and hope to have done you and the book proud with my little review. 😉

        Reply
        • You know I wanted you to say “thank you for popping my cherry, Wave” didn’t you? Not all that crap you said. You’re no fun. I’ll speak to Ethan

          Reply
            • Me, crass?? I’ll have you know that I’m very respectable (at least whenever you and those other enablers are not around). lol I’ve forgotten why I was going to speak to Ethan – it’s been a long day. I just wanted to see you say in print that thing about the cherry. 🙂 that’s all.

              Reply
  • Buda, I’m intrigued in this book after reading your review. You’re pretty fussy about your books, I know, so a 5-star rating is saying a lot about the story. 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh, Patty, you flatter me so! lol I know I can be a bit rough on books, but something about this one really touched me (in a good way!). 😉 I hope you enjoy it, too.

      Reply
      • Okay, Buda, I’ve got it in the cue. I had a free book coupon and I put it to good use. I’m just not sure when I’ll actually be able to read it; there are so many great books out right now!

        Reply
  • I read this one a few weeks ago and was completely smitten with it! The story was just…woah. Loved it! Only the ending was a bit weird, but damn that book was good!

    Great review Buda! 🙂

    Reply
    • Larissa, it’s so great to hear that you loved it! Can you say, without giving anything away, what you felt was weird about the ending?

      Oh, and thanks for the kudos. I loved this book so much, I was a bit nervous writing the review. 🙂

      Reply
      • Oh it was nothing major I just thought the argument was skimmed. They took so long to find eachother and not even talk about the issue that it seemed weird to me. Then again they are both very stubborn 😉 Or I missed something! (it is basically what you said about the BM)

        Reply
        • Ah, I see. I just chalked that lack of conversation up to being really happy to see one another again. Knowing them, the conversation came after they both did–repeatedly. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

          Reply

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