“Keeping secrets is easy. Until love tempts him to break his cover.”
by Barbara Elsborg is book two in her series entitled Fall or Break. I am a huge fan of this author and her witty and unapologetic writing style. I particularly loved the first book in this series. I would have to state that both books thus far in this series have more somber undertones, are emotionally angsty and are a bit darker than other books I have read by this author. Like its predecessor, this second installment to the series was riveting right from the start. This is a book about two individuals who live their lives on very opposite ends of the spectrum but are also both scarred in different ways. Frankly, both men find themselves in some pretty dangerous and desolate circumstances for difference reasons. It’s about how they find one another and embark on a journey that changes the scope of their landscape forever.
We meet the powerful and all-consuming Conrad Black in book one. He came across as someone who was only interested in his own agenda. Although, we did discover that he is capable of some good. In this book we find Conrad recovering from a hit and run, an “accident” that he feels was a deliberate attempt on his life. With all his energy going towards regaining mobility from his partial paralysis, Conrad does not have time to ascertain as to whether his hunch about the hit and run is correct. Conrad escapes to a secluded home near Seahouses in the Nothumberland coast. Here he doesn’t have to deal with his family, friends and colleagues seeing him at his weakest. He can focus on regaining strength and recovering. He can also focus on wallowing in his self-pity and digging himself deeper into this black hole of despair he finds himself in. Little does he know that things would change when he risks his life to save a drowning surfer.
Archer Hart has lived his life behind an illusion, a carefully planned façade so that the choices he has made when it comes to his employment do not catch up to him. He most certainly is an enigma, a hitman who is all about hard edges and self-control. Archer has decided that he wants out and no longer wants to be a killer for hire. However, leaving is not exactly an easy accomplishment when he has someone after him who wants him dead. Archer finds himself on the run. Will this always be his life? Keeping people at a distance. Constantly on the move. Never settling down. Archer has never met anyone that has made him want to risk taking the chance of opening up and staying in one location. Until now.
“There could be no future for him and Conrad. For once in his life he had to put someone else before himself. I’m toxic. The long her was with Conrad, the more he’d poison him.”
“You know we’re doomed, right? There’s no way this can work. I’ve broken the law in the worst possible way. You are the law.”
“I wish for your sake that I didn’t want you.” ~Archer
When Archer and Conrad meet there is no denying the ignitable spark between them and the men form a tentative and fragile relationship. Both men are scarred and broken, hesitant to trust and pursue anything despite their combustible attraction. With this being said, it does not take long for something more profound to begin developing between the pair; however, with both men in the path of danger, how long will it take before their time runs out? Will the pair be able to withstand the constant bombardment of obstacles and danger that seem to keep appearing and standing in their way? Further, how can Archer and Conrad get past the fact that they stand on opposite ends of the law – one is the law while the other exists outside the rigid confines of the law?
I loved the romance between Archer and Conrad. I loved how their emotional connection developed slowly and organically, even though the sexual chemistry between them was piping hot right from the start. Despite the uncertain and horrible circumstances both men were in, they seemed to be exactly what the other needed. A shining light in their drab and murky worlds. Conrad needed someone to stand up to him and take the control out of his hands. Who better to do this than a hard-edged hitman who likes it a little kinky? Regardless of the darker undertones to the overall story arc, the actual love story was truly sweet and heart-felt. Both men are hesitant to start things at first considering their personal battle with trust issues as well as the fact that they are so completely different. You have a hitman and a barrister who both have an array of emotional and psychological hurdles to overcome.
“Conrad wanted him, even though he knew he’d never keep him, wanted him even though he knew he was dangerous, wanted him because he made him feel alive.”
“Conrad had to fight. Archer had understood before Conrad. It was the only way Conrad could do this. He had to fight and Archer had to break him.”
Both protagonists are these endearing and complex characters, and this author does a wonderful job stripping away the layers and intermixing it with some heavy steam and a suspenseful storyline. The mystery surrounding who exactly was after each man was well done. It kept me turning the pages completely engulfed in all that was happening. Further, as in most Barbara Elsborg books, we get quite a few hot and heavy scenes
. I loved how passionate Archer and Conrad were with one another as they explored all that was between them. The back and forth, push and pull, between the two men kept things seriously heated. Two alpha males fighting for dominance. Yum!
One of the things I loved most about this book, as with many books by this author, was the humour. I loved discovering that Conrad had this charming and funny side to his personality. The banter exchanged between both men had me laughing out loud numerous times through-out the storyline.
“Slight problem,” Conrad said as he knelt between Archer’s legs.
Archer eyed a cock twice the size he recalled. “Doesn’t look slight. Christ you’re hung like a donkey.”
Conrad laughed. “Donkey? I couldn’t have had anaconda or elephant or Argentine lake duck?”
“It has a seventeen-inch cock and the duck is only sixteen inches long.”
Archer chuckled. “So what’s the problem? I’m grateful you don’t have a seventeen-inch cock.”
Once again Barbara Elsborg has penned a captivating and moving tale with Breaking
. The ending had me happily sighing and feeling very satisfied. I am hoping that there will be more to this series. Fingers crossed.*****An advance reading copy of Breaking
by Barbara Elsborg was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review.