Title: Six Degrees of Separation (By Degrees #2) 1st Edition
Author: Taylor V. Donovan
Cover Art: L.C. Chase
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Length: Novel/339 PDF pages/118,000 words
Genre: M/M Romance/Mystery
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A review by LadyM
Review summary: Fulfills the promises of the first book.
Blurb: In the sequel to Six Degrees of Lust, F.B.I. team leader Samuel Shaughnessy and bar manager Machlan O’Bannon are exploring a new phase in their non-relationship. The intention is to take it slowly but power plays are still their favorite activity, and it isn’t long before lines begin blurring. After ending their friends with benefits agreement no rules are left in place to guide them, and soon enough the only thing that’s clear is that neither man is fighting hard enough to reestablish the boundaries.
Their particular situations haven’t improved in the three months since their first encounter. Sam is still focused on his immediate family issues, and everything indicates Mac will have to go to war with his own family before he can reclaim his freedom. The last thing they need is additional complications.
But when the opening of a night club brings Mac to New York City and a break in the Leviticus investigation leads Sam to Houston, they discover how closely their worlds have been connected from the very beginning. Hiding from the life-altering collision is not an option. Will they take the easier road and go their separate ways, or will they come to terms with their past and take a chance on each other?
By Degrees Series
After almost two years, a sequel to Six Degrees of Lust, reviewed here, is in front of us. The author went down the self-publishing road and the results are good – I found only minor editing errors (such as repeating of a certain phrase on the same page). The book is an immediate continuation of the previous novel. It literally continues only minutes after we left our protagonists – Sam and Mac – in South Beach when they decided to throw Sam’s rules out of the window and add some spontaneity to their non-relationship.
Unlike the last time when I started with the things that didn’t work, I decided this time to start with the things that worked better. The mystery/police procedural and romance are balanced better as the guys’ private and professional lives get more intertwined. The novel lives up to its title as we uncover all the ways the characters’ lives are connected. While we knew about some of them and suspected the others, there will be moments that will make your head spin. The author learned how to seed her red herrings throughout the novel and leads you by the nose from one twist to the next. As someone who has read hundreds of mysteries and police procedurals, I was very, very pleased.
As Sam’s and Mac’s relationship grows so does their world. We learn more about Sam’s team members, their friends and families and other characters introduced in the first novel. We are introduced to some new characters as well – like Detective Eric Callahan from Houston, who is bound to become a love interest to one of the characters. Let’s just say: I can’t wait!
Sam and Mac grow as characters as well. We learn more about their pasts which influenced their personalities so much: Sam’s failed marriage and death of his daughter, Mac’s family situation and relationship with Ami and the twins and the rest of his family. Sam especially learns how to cope with his growing feelings for Mac and makes an effort to move on with his life. While he is still trying to hold back, his behavior betrays his true emotions – the fact that he calls Mac “his guy”, his growing jealousy and decreasing number of things that freak him out. With his family situation (with Sandy and Nicky) and work on the case, he doesn’t even have the time to think things through – which in his case isn’t a bad thing. Mac is still his wonderful self – a caring and loving man whose strength is truly amazing. Considering his family situation, it’s a wonder he became the man he is. I especially liked his determination not to give an inch to the emotional blackmail he was exposed to and all the little and not so little ways he showed his love for Sam. While there are some unresolved things in their lives, the readers will be happy to know that Sam and Mac are solid as a rock. I count this as a happy ending for them – the practical matters will sort themselves out. 😀
One of my biggest complaints about the first novel was representation of women. The author stepped up her game and gave the female characters what was lacking in the prequel to this book – the motivation – Sandy, Sam’s sister, is obviously still in the thrall of her abusive husband, literally brainwashed, although It seems that she managed to snap out of it and, in the end, started to heal. Gabi lives in the past, unable to move on. I understood her anger but I also thought that ten years is enough to stop clinging to what could have been. She makes the judgment on Mac based on the (insufficient) information she has and I can’t say I didn’t understand that either but I still couldn’t like her. Ami remains the bitch she was: she’s a manipulative gold-digger and if Mac’s suspicions about her are true, she’s also a monster.
The author developed the supporting cast as well and set up the plot lines for the future books. I’m afraid I can’t talk about them much because I fear that I will spoil some of the most interesting twists and turns for you, but I can tell you that I can’t wait to read more about Logan, Sasha, Christian, Remy, Eric, Braxton, Zane, Duncan and all the rest. While Sam’s team made significant progress on the case and throw a wrench in the killer’s work, he is still at large and a danger to all gay men, not to mention our characters. Considering how exciting the case was in this book, I can’t wait to see if the author will be able to outdo herself in the future.
These books cannot be read independently like some other series I’m reviewing and usually I would have rated such a book lower, but the improvements compared to the first book were significant and one major plot line was resolved to my satisfaction, so the rating had to reflect that – 4.5 stars.