Title: Every Breath You Take
Author: Robert Winter
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Genre(s): Mystery / Suspense
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in DC, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.
Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.
But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.
“Every Breath You Take,” written by Sting, was the number one song of 1983. While some think this song is suitable for weddings and other romantic events, Sting himself said “I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it’s quite the opposite.” When reading Robert Winter’s Every Breath You Take, keep these lyrics in mind because this book is majorly creepy and will demand your interest from page 1:
Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take … I’ll be watching you. Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay … I’ll be watching you.
Nice guy Zachary moves to DC from Utah, meets Thomas (“the most handsome man Zachary had ever seen”) on his first (ever) foray into a gay bar and goes home with him for a night of oh-so-very-hot sex. But it turns out Thomas is kind of a jerk – his rules are one-night stands only, no repeats and no one spends the night. Then again Thomas certainly has a valid reason since his life and career were devastated by a stalker and it only stopped upon the stalker’s reported suicide.
Zachary quickly finds a group of friends at the bar – Joe the former Franciscan monk and his husband Terry, Miss Ethel at the piano, bar owner Randy who is a seriously gorgeous muscle daddy (and former Secret Service agent) – and ends up volunteering at the homeless shelter that is Joe’s passion. And although it’s difficult, Zachary and Thomas work at keeping their relationship in the friend zone.
“If I could let anyone in, Zach, it would be you.”
But always on the fringes is an unnamed stalker who obsessively watches Thomas, calling him the Beloved. The stalker is truly terrifying (think Criminal Minds) in the ways he observes Thomas’ every move and Winter does an excellent job of balancing the romantic elements of the story with the unfolding horror of murders that seem to have a connection to Thomas. Without revealing too much, there’s a well-done red herring plus the slow discovery of secrets from the past and Winter doubles down on a frightening and suspenseful resolution.
While I had some difficulty with Thomas initially, I loved how the relationship with Zachary changed Thomas’ preconceptions and their chemistry was combustible.
All those years he had maintained a careful distance and control. He had always taken charge as he found his pleasure in the bodies of countless men. Yet Zach had taught him something new about his own body and his own desires that he never before recognized.