Title: Afflicted II
Author: Brandon Shire
Cover Artist: N/A
Publisher: TPG Books
Amazon: Afflicted II
Publisher Buy Link
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/220 pages
Rating: 5+ stars DIK
Review Summary: Another emotion-packed story from the pen of Brandon Shire. Hunter and Dillon have become two of my favourite MCs.
Hunter and Dillon finally came to terms with the idea that they wanted more than just hot sex with each other.
Dillon decided to quit hustling in order to invest his time and energy in building their relationship, and Hunter let his barriers down and opened his heart. But fear has a way of creeping up and dismantling things that we hold precious. Dillon’s family isn’t quite finished with him yet and Hunter is torn about whether he should step into the fray.
Their journey together comes to a thrilling conclusion
Brandon Shire has the ability to draw me fully into his stories because his prose is so eloquent. He makes me believe that his characters are real and inhabit the world he creates.
Afflicted II starts one week after Afflicted reviewed here and continues the hot romance between Hunter, a blind entrepreneur and Dillon, a former escort for a high class establishment. This sequel is not a standalone and I would recommend that you read the first book before Afflicted II because they are inextricably linked and many of the same characters inhabit both books. II is darker and even more complex than the first book with both MCs facing new challenges, starting with Dillon revealing his life story in detail to Hunter, how his own family betrayed him and threw him out on the streets when he was barely 16 because he was gay. One day he was very much the beloved child and the next he was discarded like so much garbage.
“One week I was in school thinking about going fishing with my dad, then the next I was wondering if the guy standing in front of me had a clean dick”.
There is a lot of sex and some of it is pretty raw and gritty, but it’s balanced by some of the most beautiful and emotive prose and dialogue I have read in a while. Here is one example:
“I want you to make love to me by the rhythm of the rain”
The rain came down in gusts, tapping furiously against the window until it slowed and began whimpering in little drops which splattered on the sill. All the fear he’d been carrying, all the worry over the rejection which Hunter simply pushed away with his arms, that was what Dillon moved with, that was the rhythm he used with the rain. He slipped into a quiet pace with the tempo of the winds outside; his motion a slow metronome of liquid passion which he found growing within him as he realized how much Hunter meant to him.
Shortly after they became a couple there was a major development when Hunter discovered the relationship between his mother and Dillon’s estranged blind cousin who was 30 years her junior, which made him look at his mother in a whole new light – as a sexual being. All he wanted to do was protect Dillon at all costs from being hurt any further by his family, and he realized then that his relationship with Dillon had moved beyond great sex into something much softer, more emotional, but he wasn’t quite ready to call it love.
In this book Hunter’s vulnerability was exposed as we get to see him as more than the powerful persona he liked to project to everyone, a ninja who stomped everything in his path, a role he used to mask his uncertainties and fears about life, his feelings for Dillon, and being blind. I thought that Hunter was never more appealing than when he was vulnerable, fighting his love for Dillon while denying that he wanted more than sex from him. Dillon, on the other hand knew what he felt for Hunter and was determined not to lose him. But before they could declare their feelings for each other Dillon received some news that cut him to the heart and left him shattered. Only Hunter could ease the pain and make him whole again and at last he understood what his mentor Shu-shu meant when he said “Loving someone gives you courage; being loved back gives you strength.”
Many authors in this genre write static characters who don’t develop beyond the first time the reader meets them. In Afflicted II what impressed me more than anything was the personal growth of both MCs, brilliantly portrayed, especially Dillon who initially was so fragile emotionally I thought he would break at any moment. During the course of the book he grew into the man he was always meant to be and his progression was a revelation despite or maybe because of the pain he had suffered throughout his teen and adult life and his latest crushing blow. At times he became the one who mastered Hunter, especially during sex which was as raw as any I’ve ever read, but every time they were together there seemed to be a purpose to their union as the sex definitely advanced the plot.
This author writes secondary characters who are genuine and three dimensional and I absolutely loved Margie, Hunter’s business partner and best friend who blossomed in II and showed here that she could really kick his ass when he needed it and told him the unpalatable, unvarnished truth that no one else had the nerve or balls to do, but she also was tender when he was hurt or felt abandoned. Connie, the waitress at The Rat Hole, Hunter’s favourite hangout, was just as abrasive as ever and delighted in giving Hunter as good as he dished out. Neither of them gave any quarter and their verbal bouts were a joyful interlude, like a boxing match that ended with both combatants bloody but unbowed and best of all, Connie showed no respect for the fact that Hunter was blind. Dillon’s mother was the ultimate harpy and religious zealot with no redeeming qualities – it would have been nice if she had showed her son just a smidgen of human kindness, but that was not to be and in the end she never evolved. Shu-shu, Dillon’s saviour in many ways proved that he was a true friend and mentor and helped Dillon transition from someone who had no goals to a role he never imagined.
This book is not a traditional romance as the characters were damaged by life or circumstances, but it was tender and lush as well as hot as Hades when Hunter and Dillon were in bed, or in the kitchen, or on the couch or even in a public restroom – wherever they felt the urge. What I loved best was when they switched roles and Dillon became the aggressor and tamed his man. The characters had a lot to overcome in this book and nothing came easy but that made the end sweeter. This from Dillon:
“Snow is kind of weird” …. “It’s so slow, drifts a little here and there, and it doesn’t make much noise.” “I would like very much for us to stay in and see if you can match its rhythm. What do you think?”
Sometimes the writing was almost poetry in motion and at others it was raw and erotic. It was also very funny and I laughed out loud at Hunter’s antics as his posture of tough guy on the hill was too much!
If you’re looking for a challenging read with two very flawed MCs and a cast of characters that you will probably never find elsewhere, you won’t have far to go.