Blood & Tears (Flesh #3)

Title: Blood & Tears (Flesh #3)
Author: Ethan Stone
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: DSP Publications
Buy link: (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Mystery, GFY
Length: Novel (310 paperback pages, word count unlisted)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

A guest review by Buda

Summary Review: A fun and entertaining sequel to (In the Flesh and) Flesh & Blood (reviews linked), but this time the focus is on Gabe Vargas and FBI Agent Drew Bradley. A different but worthy continuation to the Flesh series.

The Blurb:

The last thing Gabe Vargas wants to do after losing his girlfriend and nearly dying is leave his young son. But that’s exactly what FBI Agent Drew Bradley is asking him to do. According to Drew, the only way to protect Gabe and find the killer is to fake Gabe’s death.

 With an already established adversarial relationship, protecting a firebrand like Gabe isn’t exactly a picnic for Drew either. But when Drew lets his guard down, his feelings of desire for Gabe leave him confused. Before the crime can be solved, Drew will have to risk more than his job. He’ll have to risk his heart.

The Review:

When Gabe Vargas awakes in the hospital, he is told his girlfriend Violet has been murdered in the same attack that nearly killed him. In order to find the killer, FBI Agent Drew Bradley, for whom Gabe has nothing but intense dislike because of Drew’s role in the death of Gabe’s lover Casey, needs Gabe to die. Drew, who pleaded to be assigned to any other case than Gabe’s, knows how Gabe feels about him. Drew still feels guilt over Casey’s murder while under Drew’s protection and he is determined to find Violet’s killer so Gabe’s young son won’t grow up without both of his parents.

So begins the adventure of Gabe and Drew who, through a series of circumstances both within and out of their control, grow to create first a sexual relationship and then fall in love. Once he begins his psychological recovery from the attack, bisexual Gabe is in serious need of an emotional release after dealing with the murders of both Casey and Violet in short order–and being sequestered in a safe house with the sexy FBI Agent is just too much good fantasy material to ignore. When straight Drew stumbles upon Gabe masturbating, he is too fascinated to look away and truly begins to question his sexuality for the first time. His struggle to accept this new aspect of his sexual nature isn’t treated too lightly (it has repercussions throughout the rest of the book), nor is it used solely to generate an angst-fest. At first, I thought Drew was awful quick to jump in the sack with Gabe, but more careful reading, and the realization that they were basically alone together 24/7 for the stay at the safe house, made me more comfortable with it. I’m sure Hollywood co-stars have fallen in bed with each other far faster than our two heroes here.

Blood & Tears differs from the rest of the Flesh series in one very obvious way (aside from having Gabe as the protagonist instead of our friend Cristian Flesh). It is presented in third person with shifting POVs. While I had some trouble with that initially, I found myself settling into it pretty easily. Those of you for whom head-hopping is a major problem, be forewarned that occasionally both men’s perspectives are seen within a single paragraph. As I said, once I got used to that, it didn’t trouble me too much.

Like the first two books, Blood & Tears focuses more on the relationship between Gabe and Drew than it does the mystery. Not that the mystery isn’t an important plot motivator, it is. Also like the first two books, these boys have frequent and quite hot sex. Agent Bradley, like Cristian Flesh, has some major demons in his past, including a family you just have to read to believe. (And do believe it. I’ve seen these people way too up close and personal and Ethan Stone paints a pretty accurate portrait of them.)

The book is easily broken down into three parts: safe house, post-safe house, post-post-safe house. I could detail them more, but that would be giving away too much, I think. The third section, where the action kicks up, was my favorite part, though all of them are important in getting the guys where they need to be at the well-deserved end. There are several cute or hilarious scenes, including the sexual terminology-influenced Scrabble game that turns into a real education for Drew. Alert readers will notice mention of a quaint little Colorado town from another series. It is fun to see Cristian, Colby and Lex again, too.

I had two niggles about this book. The first revolved around Victor, Gabe’s son. I am no expert on children having never been one myself, 😉 but I felt confused at times about the boy’s age. Sometimes I pictured him around six or seven because of his understanding of the situations, but other times, he seemed much younger (especially when saying things like “pwease” instead of “please”). Again, this may make perfect sense to the parents among you, but I stumbled here. The second niggle was in the wrapping-up of the mystery of the safe house period (there are others to solve, never fear). The scene struck me as almost rushed.

Overall, I enjoyed Blood & Tears quite a lot. The third-person presentation helped differentiate this installment from the Cristian Flesh-based books in the series. I grew to like Gabe and Drew as a couple and was pulling for a happy ending for them (especially after Gabe’s “ending” in the previous book!). If you’re a fan of Ethan Stone or the Flesh series, this is definitely a recommendation. If you’ve not read either of the previous books, please do so first so you know the back story.

Flesh Series

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  • Since reading In the Flesh, I instantly fell in love with Gabe. Therefore, I asked, begged, pleaded, made promises,and even threatened Ethan that I wanted Gabe to have his own story. “Kill the girl off, he needs a man!” Then Ethan kills my Gabe, you don’t know how bad I was fixing to disown him! But after he laughed his head off at me for yelling at him, he says hey I have a plan, well that’s were the threats came in, I definitely need Gabe by then. I put my trust in Ethan to bring Gabe forth and did he ever. Wow, the scenes were hot, the scrabble had me crackin, and when Drew realized he was really gay I was rolling on the floor. Love these characters, got to see Flesh, Colby and Lex again, I am so looking forward to more Flesh series you know gotta shake Flesh up alittle. Awesome review Buda. And Ethan just keep taking my hints OK. LOL

  • Buda man, thanks for taking a break from your break to review my book. Thanks for the kind words.

    And yes I had help with the Spanish from a great person!

    • Ethan
      I want to know what you promised Buda to get him to come back for this review. 🙂 He said you didn’t want ME to review B & T. Is that true????? 😯 😆

  • I am so excited for this one. I loved Gabe (although I really love Cristian and Colby). I think I want to reread book 2 to catch up on the setup for Gabe’s “death”.

    As for the kids, I can’t comment on this book b/c I didn’t read it yet, but I will say that is an issue that bugs me too. I read a recent book where the kid was 7 and supposedly still in a Britax car seat (not a booster). I mean, he would either need super conservative parents or be incredibly small for his size, neither of which were indicated. He was supposed to be solely responsible for the care and feeding of a cat (something I wouldn’t even expect my 10 y.o. to do), but still talked (and was treated) almost like a toddler. Just kept taking me out of the book. I’ve read others like this as well and it is very distracting.

    • Hi jayhjay. I hope Tracy’s explanation above helps you out with Victor’s scenes. The last child I spent a great deal of time with is now 19, so you can imagine how out of practice I am with them. What you describe sounds like something that would cause me to just drop the book entirely.

      Good idea to re-read Flesh & Blood before getting into Blood & Tears. Both previous books are referenced. You might even want to re-read In the Flesh, too. (ahem) I forgot to mention that in the review. (Serves me right for writing it after midnight.)

      Please come back and let me know what you think of the book! Thanks for the comment!

    • It’s a huge detail, Helena. I remember discussing with you another author’s … shall we say, mangled … Spanish, plus I’ve railed against improperly used Russian, so I know this is a subject we both care about. I’m thrilled to hear Ethan did well. Thank you for the info!

  • Good morning, Buda!

    Wow, oh wow, I had NO idea there was to be another sequel to this series. I really, really loved the first book but the second book had too many issues for me to enjoy it as much as I did the first one. One of those issues was that Gabe had died. But he didn’t die????? Hallelujah! :hurrah: I fell in love with Gabe in Book 1 and was absolutely furious with the author for killing him off. But apparently he didn’t so all is forgiven. Can’t wait to read this 😀

    • Hi Daanquai. If you love Gabe, you’ll really love this book. I remember reading about Gabe’s death in Flesh & Blood and wondering what the heck Ethan Stone was thinking (among other things). Then I saw the note Gabe sneaked to Cristian and I knew it was just a low down, dirty trick. lol You’ll have to let me know what you think of it once you’ve read B&T. Thanks for the comment!

  • Buda

    I still haven’t read this book even though I have had it for several weeks. I was surprised and pleased to learn that Gabe was still alive but I was still hesitant that Ethan would throw another curve at the readers so I’m happy you enjoyed Blood and Tears. I guess I can now get up the courage to read the book. 🙂

    Great review BTW.

    • Thank you, Miss Wave. 🙂 If you can get into the groove of the pov-shifting early, it’ll help you get into the book. Gabe’s a good kid; I like him a lot–but not as much as I like Cristian. 😉 Read the book! Think of it as 3 pamphlets in one! lol

  • Hi Buda!!!

    Great Review!! I enjoyed this book alot also. Ethan did a great job! The scrabble game was inspired– so “guy”, so funny, great way to bring things to the fore in the story and be entertaining too.

    Thanks for the review! :sendoutlove:

    • Hi Reggie! Every time Drew would say “now that’s not a gay sex term” I would crack up. Poor innocent guy. But boy did he take to it like a duck to water, huh? So glad you liked it. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  • The Scrabble game is just great 😆
    Gabe & Drew (and Victor) 4ever 😀
    I really enjoyed the book and it´s a must for lovers of the series :yes:
    Thank you Buda for your review 😎
    PS ahh, the little Colorado town 😉

    • Helena, I’m so glad to see you liked this books, too, since I know you enjoyed the previous two. Thanks for the comment! 🙂 (And yeah, that Colorado town made me sigh a little bit. lol)

  • I haven’t read this one — yet — but I’m a parent (my youngest is 6) so I feel vaguely qualified to comment on your niggle about Victor. IIRC, Violet’s family is, well, active in the local gang scene, right? And Gabe has managed to be in a fair amount of trouble over Victor’s short life. These things *do* tend to make even fairly young children have a quite decent grasp on the realities of life, and seem rather older than their years. That said, sometimes that makes them cling a bit harder to certain childlike behaviors, such as thumb-sucking and certain speech patterns. Alternatively, a lisp *could* be the result of a developmental issue that will have to be addressed as he gets older.
    So, yeah, that confusion on your part as to his age is completely understandable. My three-person Barbarian Horde manages to drop my jaw daily with their wavering between miniature adults and overgrown puppies…

    • Thank you, Tracy. That makes a lot of sense and actually calms that niggle. I hope you enjoy B&T when you get to it. And good luck with your Horde!

      • You’re welcome; glad I could help! I’m looking forward to next payday; there’s a lot of stuff I’m waiting to buy.

        And, thankfully, the Horde starts back to school tomorrow, so sanity shall be restored.

    • Tracy, I am stealing the phrase ” three person barbarian hoarde” just so you know:P It is the perfect description of my own spawn. Great ans. to the niggle, kids can be very complicated my oldest (16) still fully embraces his inner toddler weekly.


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