Author: Kate Sherwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 stars
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Blurb: When mercenary Jack Hunter stumbles upon Christian Manning servicing a client in a back alley, it stirs feelings he’s kept deeply buried. Hunter becomes Christian’s knight in shining armor when he rescues him from an attack and takes him to his secluded cabin to heal.
Being stuck in the cabin over the winter gives both men a chance to get their lives in order. Christian is struggling to break his heroin addiction, and Hunter needs to get away from the organization he helped start years before—a group of people who don’t appreciate being told no. It’s a toss-up which goal is more difficult. Their new starts spark a relationship between them, but nothing good comes cheap. Despite the complications, Hunter wants more, but Christian is resistant to making that commitment. When Hunter’s private security company threatens them, only nurturing the fragile trust they formed at the beginning of their love affair will save them. But for two men with very dark pasts, relying on each other might be easier said than done.
Review: Although the “Dark Horse” series has been highly recommended to me many times, “Chasing the Dragon” is my first Kate Sherwood. It won’t be the last because this book was just that terrific.
I love books with strong, clear writing, with complex characterization that allow the main characters to grab the reader by the mind and heart. Jack Hunter and Christian Manning did this for me. I cared. Then, I was hooked.
Both men bring strong back stories to the table in this tale of discovery and redemption. Christian is a heroin addict who is street a whore and Hunter is a burned-out, ex-military man who is a working partner in a group that protects top-level professionals around the world and he wants out. Intriguing backgrounds and a mix of strength and weaknesses in both men.
When Hunter sees Christian in a back alley engaged in a sexual encounter, Hunter sees beauty and strength and he is attracted. This is unsettling because Hunter believes he is straight. While he’s trying to puzzle these new emotions and responses, he realizes Christian needs serious help and he pretty much blindly steps up. I’m not sure it’s Hunter’s intent to save Christian, but he does. He puts Christian in his car and takes him to a remote cabin in British Columbia, where they both can detox — Hunter from crippling stress and Christian from heroin. The attraction, which I think begins as one drowning man recognizing another, becomes friendship and then more. At that point, they decide to go with what they’re feeling.
But, as Hunter explores his feelings for Christian, Christian is busy denying his feelings for Hunter. What an emotional knot. And, it tightens when Christian does something to protect himself from hoping for more and being hurt. That “scene” was heart-wrenching, but completely believable and I felt every miserable moment of it. Christian is not good with words or explaining himself. Sex has been his commerce and communication for such a long time that he goes for what is expedient and because in life people do what they know. He uses sabotage to avoid believing what he and Hunter are sharing is more than sex. What he fails to understand, until he faces the aftermath, is that when it’s love, betrayal hurts both parties and fear strangles love.
Oh yeah, you will be angry at Christian and it will seem an impossible task for Sherwood to redeem this character, but believe me, it’s rock bottom for both men. Sherwood weaves a highly complex set of characterizations in this story, which make it a must-read because the author takes you on Christian’s journey to self-worth and love. It takes a skilled storyteller to drop a character into an insurmountable mire of his own making and then convincingly redeem him — in one book. This is a fresh perspective and a wonderful piece of writing, Ms. Sherwood.
OK, there is also hot sex, fast-paced action, moments of high suspense in the book, but throw in some unexpected plot developments and this tale is a satisfying read. So, if you’re looking for a wonderful read, buy this book. And, for me, I’m on to the Dark Horse series.