Hell and Back (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)

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Title: Hell and Back
Author: Dirk Greyson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 176 pages
Reviewed by: NeRdyWYRM
Heat Level: 3.75 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5


Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken. When Staff Sergeant Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and his letters to Gage went unanswered.

Now in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation. He’s almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure—then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.

When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades, or will hope only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—that others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty.


I am a sucker for military, former military, wounded warriors, second chance romance, and just about every other theme this book had going on. The gangland stuff seemed a little far-fetched from time to time but wasn’t so entirely outside of the realms of possibility that I was rolling my eyes … much. That said, just because some things in the book were outside of my experience, that obviously doesn’t mean they are unlikely or impossible in real life. Let’s just say I found the entire plot and its related themes and components relatively believable for a fast-paced, action-packed contemporary romance title, and I’ll leave it at that.

I’m not typically a fan of ‘rebounds’ but I considered this more of a ‘rediscovery’ when it came right down to it. Who wouldn’t want another chance with the one that was torn away? In all honesty, had events not conspired against them, Gage and Forge would probably already have been together, or I guess I should say, would still be together. It wasn’t too much of a stretch that they immediately reconnected despite the circumstances, or perhaps, ‘because of the circumstances’ would be more accurate.

I liked Gage. I liked Forge. I liked Gage and Forge together. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read this one, and to be honest, I don’t remember much about what was going on between the sheets. To be fair, I read a lot. My gut tells me they were hot together, but obviously not all that memorable. Then again, I read a lot so that’s not saying much. Add in brain surgery and my sometimes swiss-cheese short-term memory and my opinion on the smexy times in this title are not all that reliable. Gimme a minute and I’ll skim. I can’t just leave it like that! It’s irking me. Okay, got it. Smexy times: Uh-huh. Just like I thought. H-O-T!

I also loved the dual POV in this one. I really needed both points of view for the second chance theme to make sense. It does me no good to not know what one or the other MC is thinking when there’s been a long separation and practically a life lived in the interim. This one feels like it might be the start of a series, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t mind at all. I’d love to see more of this couple or even some of the peripheral characters. I was particularly fond of Harv, and Gage’s work with clients could lend itself well to some tangential plotlines. Just sayin’!

All in all, I enjoyed this book. There are a lot of reasons why I might be inherently predisposed to like it, but I honestly think it’s one of the better ones I’ve read this year. The characters were great if a little too … in touch with their feelings sometimes, and the story has legs. The slightly too touchy-feely conversation is the only major reason I dinged this one. It lost a half a star for that and another smidge for rubbing my personal preferences the wrong way in other ways … bedroom ways. And no, I will not elaborate, for once ~winks~! That said, I can see this story and its MCs going further in either a starring or secondary role. I like potential. I like it a lot. Pick this one up. I’m now a fan.

This review cross-posted at Goodreads.
Other reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be read here.

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Galley copy of Hell and Back provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents' full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates. Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don't have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it's any device with a Kindle app. I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I've surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital. I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there's not much out there I won't read. I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that 'smut' as she called it. I'd already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn't be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom. ~~wink-wink~~ My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It's served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there's nothing at all I'm unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.
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