Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1) by John Wiltshire
What a ride this story was! I was completely sucked into this book.
This is an extremely well-written story in every way. The plot is captivating and intricate, and there is no way of figuring out where the story is headed in advance. Which is awesome. The story premise kept shifting, and right when I thought I had it all figured out, the story took yet another turn.
Synopsis: Ben is an ex-SAS soldier recruited to a black-ops team within the British Intelligence Agency. He’s also involved with his boss, Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, who happens to be married. It’s only supposed to be a physical relationship, but Ben has fallen hard. And then, when Ben’s latest mission ends up following him back to the UK, he discovers that the man he’s in love with is actually a stranger. And dangerous at that.
It’s the characters that make this story so great. Not because they’re particularly likable – they’re not – but because they, much like the plot, aren’t what they seem. And as more and more were revealed, my view of Ben and Nikolas kept shifting. They do evolve of course, particularly Ben I would say. But mostly it’s my viewpoint as a reader that was forced to change.
At first, I saw Ben as a victim. Without control and taken advantage of by his manipulative boss. Then as the story progressed, it became evident that Ben was pretty darn happy with their arrangement and was actually the one allowing Nikolas his position of power. And, even further on, my perception of their dynamic changed again as Ben now appeared quite callous and selfish, maybe even as the one taking advantage of Nikolas. And trying to understand these two was utterly fascinating.
Nikolas was. Well. I can’t properly describe him. You’ll have to read the book and find out.
The one thing that ruined this read for me, was Ben and Nikola’s violent encounters. And there were many of those. The very core of their relationship is based on lots and lots of fucking. And, as gay men being intimate with each other, lube should have been their friend. But, instead, Wiltshire made a point of describing the rawness and pain of them going at it dry. Every single time. With what they were up to, and with that frequency, they should have been torn up and permanently damaged. It was un-appetizing to say the least.
I even knew about this going in. I had read about it in a review, but I thought that it couldn’t be that bad. But yes, it really could. And because of that. I honestly don’t know if I’ll even continue the series. Sad but true.