Title: A Matter of Courage
Author: J.C. Long
Publisher: Nine Star Press
Release Date: September 4, 2017
Genre(s): Crime, Contemporary
Page Count: 247
Reviewed by: Maya
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Winston Chang has spent much of his young life admiring the Dragons who have kept his area safe and fought off the gangs that would bring violence to their area. Now that he’s an adult, he wants nothing more than to join the Dragons and live up to those standards.
The opportunity presents itself when his passion and knowledge of cars is just what the Dragons need. One of their own has been killed and his death seems linked to his involvement with the illegal racing scene known as the Dark Streets. Winston is needed to infiltrate the scene and find out who is responsible and why.
Steel has always been Winston’s best friend, and Winston has always been there to get him out of trouble. Just as the stress in Winston’s life reaches its peak, the relationship between Winston and Steel begins to change in ways neither of them expected.
Will Winston and Steel be able to find the courage to face not only the unknown killer stalking the Dark Streets racers but also their growing feelings?
I picked this book because I’m fond of friends to lovers trope. Illegal drug racing plot served just to spice things up.
It’s a complex world and the writing didn’t immediately draw me in.
Winston is brash and hothead. He wants membership in gang Dragons at any cost. Steel, who is already a member of Dragons just wants Winston who is his best friend since childhood, alive and well. The age difference between them is four years, but the gap in upbringing and consequently in characters is very obvious. I liked Steel more than Winston. He is loyal to his friend and doesn’t even question doing anything for Winston. I didn’t get the same impression from Winston, but both of them change during the story which makes it so compelling.
Winston is sent to participate in street races as a way for Dragons to find more about murder of their own. Wei, their boss is fiercely protective of his people. Winston sees this as a way to prove himself. Steel on the other hand, is aware of the risk to his friend. He tries to be there for Winston, but he grapples with his feelings and makes matters worse between them.
Winston’s and Steel’s relationship hovers over the precipice. They are more than friends, but not yet lovers. Neither of them seems willing to make final step and it makes for delicious slow burn. They even toy with each other sexually, but it’s not until the end that they make the final step. The accent here is definitely more on emotional than sexual side of relationship.
We never doubt they are interested in each other. They are not so lucky. Instead, they are plagued by uncertainty and misunderstandings, but problems allow their relationship to steadily grow and change them both for the better. I definitely liked the second half of the book better than first, because the characters made more sense. The author did good job describing their wants and fears. Mounting tension drives the plot, as faceless villain manipulates both bad and good guys. The pacing is excellent with great balance between romance and suspense.
The POV switches between main characters so we get to know both men. It’s a solid story with characters who mature as they pursue their dreams.