Thursday, March 30, 2017

Six Degrees of Lust by Taylor V. Donovan

New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong, he sticks to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn't have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.

Former firefighter Machlan O'Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston, and after years of waiting, he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud, and drama-free. His politically aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.

One man is as high-strung as the other is laid-back. A chance meeting brings them together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don't want to get involved, but they might not be able to keep apart.

2nd Edition
First Edition published by MLR Press, December 2011.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
3.5 stars
M/M Romance, murder mystery
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

I will start by saying that this is a good book, but that it does have holes for me. While I enjoyed the story, the back and forth between the murder mystery and the romance was choppy.

Sam is a hardworking officer who is trying to solve a string of horrific murders aimed towards gay men. These are sadistic murders, but we only catch small glimpses in to the murders. Sam is trying very hard to figure out if he can even handle a relationship. With him having to catch a serial killer, his family moving in unexpectedly, him finding Mac and developing more than lustful feelings, it's all jumbled.

Mac is trying very hard to abide by his word. Despite the fact that he has known he's been gay since he was in his teen years, his family made him promise that he wouldn't come out – they have a family name to uphold. Now, nearing the ending time of their agreement, Mac realizes that they had no intention of holding up their end of the bargain.

Like I said in the beginning, this book is all over the place. You have a couple who meets on the sly, both not really knowing if they want a relationship, but then developing a relationship. Then you have Sam's family situation, which is both distracting and somewhat predictable. Finally, you have the serial killer and people trying to figure this out... There is so much going on, but the storyline is kind of missed somewhere along the line. While I do want to find out where the mystery heads, I think that this would have been a far more successful story had they stuck to one line: Murder or Romance.

Sam is a hot, bi, controlled FBI agent who heads up a unit that solves hate crimes. He is currently trying to catch a killer who is targeting gay men in the tristate area. Mac is a former Texas fireman who now runs a bar. He is gay and has stayed in the closest at the request of his family, but the time for him to come out is fast approaching.

The highlight of this story is definitely the relationship between Mac and Sam. Their chemistry is off the charts. Their coupling isn't easy. They live in different states and Sam keeps insisting that there can't be anything more than sex between them and he sets down rules. As time goes on and they get to know each other, sticking to the rules becomes harder and harder. Sam's fear of having an emotional relationship is a huge issue between them and I confess I got a bit sick of it towards the end. It started to feel a little juvenile.

This is a slow moving but never boring story that covers a large cast of characters and a story with many different threads, told from various points of view, including that of the killer, whose identity remains unknown. The transition from one character to another wasn't always smooth and sometimes it look a little bit of reading before you figured out which character's head you were in, but it wasn't a huge issue for me.

Six Degrees of Lust is a good start to a new series and I look forward to reading more to see how all of the pieces of the story fit together.

In this series, a New York FBI agent, Sam, and his team chase a serial killer hunting young gay men. Early in this first book, Sam meets Huston club manager Mac and their lives and their friends’ lives slowly start to entwine.

In this first story, I really struggled to like Sam. He’s a brooding Scandi Noir style agent in the style of Mankell’s Wallander or Nesbo’s Harry Hole. He obsesses over his job. His family life is messy, he struggles to sustain friendships, and he only allows himself casual hook-ups with no repeats. But unlike most crime fiction heroes, Sam is also supposed to be a romantic lead. It doesn’t work terribly well for me. His treatment of gentle, quiet Mac is pretty terrible for most of this book and I really struggled to like him. In the second book, Sam feels more human and he acts with more kindness. Here, the only kindness we see is with his nephew and it wasn’t enough.

Mac is possibly a little too good to be true, but his relationship with his corrupt wealthy family adds a bizarre Southern soap opera that only detracted from the central murder mystery. I liked Mac but I didn’t like the way he allowed himself to be treated badly by his family and his lovers. To work as Sam’s partner, I needed him to be stronger and more confident but it doesn’t happen in this first story.

I read this second edition of the first book in this series nearly two years after reading the first edition of the second book. There was so much overlap between the two books that by the time I was 100 pages into this story, I was sure I’d read it before. Almost, but not quite. Sam and his FBI team chase the same murderer through both books. His and Mac’s personal lives move very slowly through both books. But while the pace in the second book speeds up some and includes some action and suspense, this story just seemed to drag. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen but it just didn’t. Too many characters are introduced and too many side stories take us away from the hunt for Sam’s serial killer.

I’d honestly recommend that new readers start with the second book because I’m not sure I gained much from this first one. I preferred both leading men in the second story and I found myself frustrated by the lack of any resolution in this first book.

TAYLOR V. DONOVAN is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and is passionate about civil rights and equality for all.

When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Six Degrees of Lust (By Degrees #1) by Taylor V. Donovan to read and review.

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