Title: Bad Influence
Author: K.A. Mitchell
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Page Count: 295
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The young man the world knew as Jordan Barnett is dead, killed as much by the rejection of his first love at his moment of greatest need, as by his ultra-conservative parents’ effort to deprogram the gay away.
In his place is Silver, a streetwise survivor who’s spent the last three years learning to become untouchable…unless you’re willing to pay for the privilege. He shies away from anything that might hold him down long enough for betrayal to find him again.
Zebediah Harris spent time overseas, trying to outrun the guilt of turning his back on the young man he loved. Now, almost the moment he sets foot back in Baltimore, he discovers Silver on a street corner in a bad part of town. His effort to make amends lands them both in jail.
Trapped together in a cell, Silver sits on his mountain of secrets and plans a seductive form of revenge, but finds that using a heart as a stepping stone is no way to move past the one man he can’t forgive, let alone forget.
Warning: Contains a surly hero. May cause angst. A prolonged delay in sexual situations may cause frustration. Author recommends a steady dose of familiar friends and characters to alleviate those symptoms. No actual teenagers were used during the construction of the backstory.
Silver has completely lanced his former life as Jordan, the A-student, God-abiding, tennis playing suburban boy. His then 22 year old lover Zeb, shut the door in Jordan’s face when Jordan was rejected by his parents for not taking the way of the lord and rejecting his ‘perversion’. Shunned by parents, spurned by his boyfriend, Jordan hops a bus to Baltimore and reinvents himself as Silver: rent boy, porn star.
Fast forward three years, Silver notices Zeb at his favorite dance venue and in a snit, seeks out his former street boys to catch up. Zeb notices him at the corner talking with the other prostitutes, and, thinking the worst, accosts Silver. A cop thinks this was a hook-up, and Silver and Zeb are tossed in jail. Zeb wants to apologize, Silver wants to get even. But Silver finds his plot for revenge doesn’t quite go as planned from the moment he’s released from jail.
Silver is a prickly character, full of attitude, secrets and secret longing. Faced with a pending prison sentence, he’s subject to other people’s rules and regulations despite all this being for his well-being. He’s lived on his own, dammit, he doesn’t need all this bullshit and Silver lets everyone know it. But way down deep inside, he wants what everyone else around him seems to have – that deep sense of connection with another person, someone who cares about him as much as he cares about them.
Zeb is patient. Zeb is kind. Zeb is full of guilt for shutting the door on Jordan three years ago.
I struggled a bit with why these two still carried the torch for each other. Would a disillusioned, traumatized sixteen year old be so willing to forgive being turned away by their boyfriend/lover the same night their parents kicked them out?
I also struggled a bit with just how damn patient everyone was. Not that our group of characters are saints, not everyone gets along with everyone else (much appreciated!), but yeah, lots of patience.
I did like the Marco counterpoint that the author brought to the story – a horny, gay, Latino who wants nothing more than to experience sex first hand and sees Silver as being the one to show him the way. Silver starts to see the parallel between Marco and himself at that age, and the realization is like a set of tumblers clicking into place.
Silver may be street-wise, but when it comes to relationships, he’s got a lot of learning to do and this is the story of how he starts that process.