Author: Mary Calmes
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Mine
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: novel (220 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Gambling, murder and kidnapping force a fragile relationship to the brink of disaster. When forced to confront their demons, two men can either fold like a house of cards or dig deep into reserves of strength they did not know they even had.
Blurb: Trevan Bean has a job that’s going from illegal to frightening, a boyfriend who may not be in his right mind, and a guardian angel who might actually be evil incarnate. Add to that the reappearance of his boyfriend’s estranged family, death threats, kidnapping, and the struggle of saving money to realize a dream, and Trevan has a lot on his plate. But Trevan is up to the challenge: he promised Landry a happily ever after, and Landry’s going to have it if it kills him! It just might.
Landry Carter was a broken doll when they met two years ago but has grown into a partner who can stand at Trevan’s side… most of the time. Now that Trevan’s life just got scary—and Landry just got himself kidnapped—Trevan has to hope Landry’s love stays strong through this newest challenge, because the happily ever after won’t happen if Trevan has to go it alone
Five things I like about Mary Calmes’ novel, Mine
- I like how the story plops us down into the middle of an established relationship between Trevan and Landry. Theirs is not an easy, put the garbage out on Monday and Tuesday is always pasta night kind of household. Instead, Trevan is a runner who collects gambling debts for a major crime boss and Landry designs jewelry while fighting off one manic episode after another. It is an interesting mix and one that keeps your heard spinning in a really good way. There is obvious love for each other, Trevan always being careful to watch our for Landry, who has been used and abused sexually by multiple partners and seems to feel he somehow deserved it all.
I like how there is an edge of the sinister in this novel that seems best embodied by Trevan’s self assigned bodyguard, Conrad. Conrad, a mysterious assassin of the “I never miss” kind is a deadly weapon disguised in the form of a quiet, hulking, deceptively gentle man. Yet over and over, Mary Calmes reminds us that murder is Conrad’s business particularly when Trevan tells us outright that Conrad hopes there won’t come a day in their friendship where he “has to kill Trevan.” And yes, dear reader, he means it—says it as if he is asking about the weather, matter of fact, quietly…oh so juicily sinister.
I like how the relationship between Trevan and Landry is never easy. Landry is manically possessive of Trevan and punishes him both physically (read brutal sex scene here) and mentally, causing Trevan to worry how far Landry will spiral out of control and, in turn, how dominating and sadistic the sex might have to be for Landry in order to make him “feel safe”. This aspect of their relationship, the exchange of dominance, the edge of danger and brutality to some of their sexual encounters, took me right to the edge of uncomfortable at times, but the author kept me from running away in alarm by keeping me inside Trevan’s head, letting me see how much he loved Landry and how worried he was about hurting him and not being able to “bring him back” to a place where Landry felt safe.
I came to realize that Landry needed this type of encounter to ground him and make him feel whole. Landry’s self-revelation at the end of this novel brought this element full circle for me and made me realize that each of us, in our own way, has needs that may look like oddities or weaknesses to others but to our partners they are simply part of that which they love about us.
- I like that Landry’s family was not “magically perfect”. That the mother did not become an instantly nice woman, that his siblings did not try to crowd him with too much affection after so many years of absence. I especially enjoyed how the mystery of whether or not Landry was bipolar was revealed and put to rest. While he is still the quirkiest of characters, it was not the case of an author dealing cavalierly with what is admittedly a very serious illness–manic depression.
I really liked what an in depth character study this novel turned out to be. Calmes delved deep into the heart and soul of her two mc’s and gave us a clear and distinct picture of what and who these men were, and of what they meant to each other. We “knew” them, either loved or hated them, and certainly understood their motivation behind the life they chose to live. As far-fetched as the characters of a gangster and his flighty boyfriend were, Calmes was able to make them so real, they could have been the couple who lived next door.
Two things that I did NOT like about Mary Calmes’ novel, Mine.
(OR Why this was not a 5 star read…the fly in the ointment.)
- The ending…that went on and on and on. Several times I though to myself–now, she is going to stop now–this is the perfect stopping point. Then several pages later I would say it again…and again. I sincerely felt that the last two major moments; a remembrance by Trevan of a confrontation and subsequent loss of friendship and the final sexual encounter were gratuitous and added little to the story. I kept coming back and thinking that this novel should have ended in the hospital…or at the very most once they got back home. These two final scenes did nothing for the plot and just kept an otherwise tight story from its logical conclusion far too long.
2, They were too beautiful and the constant descriptive passages of their beauty often derailed the action. I know it sounds a bit biased–the “they are too beautiful” comment but stop for just a moment and hear me out. I know lots of people, and some of them are physically stunning but not ALL of them are–not by a long shot. So how is it that almost everyone of Mary Calmes characters are–beautiful? Also, the constant descriptive passages of a character’s beauty are given again and again–like this:
“Big, dark, expressive, blue-green orbs that always crinkled to half their normal size when he was happy.”
“His usually blue-green wonderland eyes flicked to Chris”
“The huge eyes–blue-green, a color I remember from a cup I had glazed in ceramics class in high school, peacock blue, an absolute sum of the two–absorbed my face.”
I am sorry–and I don’t mean to be rude–but really?? Couldn’t we just read about Landry’s stunning eyes once and have that be enough? This type of flowery description happened over and over again with Landry’s hair, his lips, the clothing he wore. After a while I found myself skipping whole paragraphs just to avoid being pulled out of the story yet again.
This was a really solid novel, a good suspense story and a hot romance, but it needed to be edited for flow and tightened up for a stronger ending to make it a 5 star read.
So, I encourage you to pick this one up and judge for yourself. I know that this review did not really give you a summary of the action and that was deliberate–there would have been way too many spoiler alerts inherent in a summary–but I hope you enjoyed having just a little bit of a twist to this review. If not, I am sure you will let me know in the comment section–LOL!! Enjoy dear readers!