A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary review: Ayan, a beautiful low-level telepath is caught in the middle of the fatal fight between two powerful alpha -male telepaths at enmity.
The Blurb: When you’re choosing between right and wrong, sometimes love is just an afterthought.
Telepath Vance Gregory never thought that taking down high-powered underworld Path Marcus Rose would be easy. When his enemy proves to be a far more formidable danger than Vance anticipates, he has no choice but to join forces with Ayan, a beautiful low-level Path with mysterious connections to Marcus.
Captured by Vance’s organization during a bungled ambush on Marcus, Ayan had no intention of helping them achieve their ends. But Vance isn’t like anyone he’s known. Given a glimpse of how life with him might be beyond the uncertain society they inhabit, Ayan agrees to Vance’s plans.
Neither of them expect the intense attraction, nor the explosive mental bond it forges. And when Ayan’s powers begin to spike out of control, neither of them want to face the unpredictable dangers that could tear them apart.
With Ayan at his side, Vance sets out to remove the threat Marcus poses to the Path community. But Marcus isn’t that easy to kill, and when Ayan turns out to be vital to Marcus’s continued existence, Vance has to choose between the enemy he hates or the man he loves.
The Review: Vance Gregory is working for OPS, Organization for Path Security. Pietro, Vance’s former partner, has founded this organization to preserve humans from consciousless Paths like Marcus Rose, who is a powerful telepath (or Path, as they are called here, as opposed to humans), and also a drug dealer. Paths can take posession of humans, can use them like puppets. They can also communicate with each other, but not merge. Only in the minds of humans who have taken Marcus’s drugs is this possible.
OPS’s raid on Marcus’s headquarter fails, and Marcus escapes. He leaves behind Ayan, a weak path who, for all Vance knows, has been Marcus’s boy toy, but also his closest confidant. When Vance interviews Ayan, he can’t figure out why Marcus put such great value in Ayan while there were more powerful Paths in Marcus’s organization. Although Vance is enticed on the spot by the young man’s beauty and sharp wit, he doesn’t hesitate to use Ayan as bait to catch Marcus.
In the aftermath of the ensuing battle, Vance finds out that Ayan is a strong empath, someone with passive powers rather than the active powers of a telepath, but he chooses to keep Ayan’s powers a secret from Pietro, fearing that Pietro will also only use Ayan just like Marcus did. Instead, Vance takes Ayan home. Despite the growing, seemingly mutual attraction and even domesticity they fall together over the course of the next few weeks, Marcus still stands between them. Ayan can’t help doubting if Vance’s feelings for him are real, or if he only wanted Marcus and now merely keeps him for entertainment. Vance can’t overcome his lasting jealousy of Marcus. They connect perfectly in bed, and the sex is amazing, not lastly thanks to both their psy abilities, but they don’t really talk to each other outside the bed. Thus the threat of Marcus becomes stronger and stronger, until he literally comes alive, threatening to destroy them both.
I really should have enjoyed this book, since it met many of those points I value greatly in a good story. The writing was smooth, there was humor and heartbreak in good measure , and the sex scenes (of which there were plenty) were generally hot and well-placed. The plot idea was original; I haven’t come across too many telepaths in m/m fiction, and I liked the way the author used telepathy both in forwarding the plot and in the relationships between the protagonists, not only Vance and Ayan, but also with Marcus, Pietro and even the few human characters in this book. What they were was really important to the plot and not only there for the colorful effect. Yet, there was a number of things that bothered me to the point of impatience.
The characters constantly ruminated the same concerns about each other. Perhaps this was only me, but I didn’t get the logic in that. BothVance and Ayan constantly questioned the other’s motives and doubted the other’s love. Neither did ever think about simply asking the other, or if they were really so incommunicative with words, of just opening up his mind to the other. After all, both possessed psy abilities which they obviously had no trouble using during sexual encounters. The principle of telepathy/ empathy seemed not consequently thought through here. Even after they had finally connected, deeply enough that being apart hurt both of them physically, they kept doubting. I found this an artificial way of creating gratuitous conflict.
Also, I couldn’t really connect with the main characters, although I’d beg to keep in mind that I’m but one reader and others may not have the same issues as I had. To me, Ayan didn’t seem able to decide if he was a beta or an omega; he claimed the right to make his own decisions and not to be treated like a child, but he often behaved more like a sullen teenager than a grown man. He is unresourceful and so dependent of first Marcus and later Vance, he’s unlikely to make it on his own. At times, I could even sympathize with Ayan’s misgivings about what Vance wanted from him, aside from a beautiful face and a gorgeous body, because Vance was portrayed a self-sufficient, calculating, pretty egocentric man who was unlikely to load himself down with an otherwise “useless” boy toy. The villain, Marcus, was much better elaborated and actually the best character in the story. Although he has much in common with Vance as to characteristics, Marcus was completely without conscience and deliciously mean. He stole the show off Vance and Ayan.
What reconciled the story with me was the ending, which was really good, and took the plot idea of a battle between telepaths to an exciting climax, an engrossing fight with mental powers and fists. Yet, it took the story long to get to this point, and if I hadn’t read it for a review, I might have given up on it by then.
I found this book didn’t live up to its promises. The interesting plot idea and the skillful writing ultimately suffered from the weak characterization. Again, this is but my opinion, others may feel differently.