Review: Breaking

cover-breakingTitle: Breaking
Author: Barbara Elsborg
Series: Fall or Break #2
Genre: M/M Romantic Suspense
Length: Novel
Available: July 28th


Keeping secrets is easy. Until love tempts him to break his cover.

Archer Hart, former SIS assassin, has just completed a freelance hit job when he finds himself in a sniper’s scope. The bullet whizzing past his ear is a clear message: someone wants him dead. Retirement will have to wait, as his only choice is to assume a new identity—and keep running.

Conrad Black is a broken man. The injured barrister has come to the beach to recover from a hit-and-run “accident”, with plenty of time to wonder who might be wishing he’d been left dead instead of partially paralyzed. When he spots a surfer in trouble, he throws his crutches aside to pull the man to safety.

One glance at Archer takes Conrad’s breath away. And Archer finds himself envying the hands Conrad is using to pet his dog. But as the net tightens, both men can feel the targets on their backs heating up. The only thing that will save them is the truth… before death snatches away their one chance at love.

Warning: Contains a mercenary who’s broken the law beyond all recognition, and an uptight barrister who is the law. Also: a whole lot of crossing lines drawn in the sand, and even more tussling to determine who gets on top.

Source: ARC from Samhain Publishing via NetGalley

The first book in this series (Falling) was a little bit special, with its tale of romance and a grievous miscarriage of justice. Conrad was something of a villain in that tale, but there was so much more to him that I was really excited to read his story. However, though I did enjoy it, it didn’t surprise, delight and enthrall me nearly as much as the last book.

Most of that is down to Conrad. He was a fiercely dominant, remote, powerful man in the last book who was almost as intriguing as he was fearsome. Here he’s recovering from a serious accident at the start, which takes away his power and leaves him depressed and brooding over the things he did wrong in his last relationship. This only really becomes a problem when he’s up against Archer, an equally dominant man who’s in better physical shape. At first I liked that Conrad clearly had a lot of work to do to get his mobility back, but once past the first few chapters his recovery is so fast that it’s almost forgotten – except at strategic plot moments.

Such as his dominance battle with Archer. Which actually made me a bit uncomfortable – the silk tie scene in particular. Both men are dominant, both men have their reasons (which was believable for Archer, but felt unnecessary for Conrad given all his other childhood issues) and neither want to submit, but because Conrad is injured Archer gets the upper hand and the fight seems to go out of him. In fact, the further things went on, the more reminded me of Malachi from the last book. He becomes snarky, flirty, willingly submissive and more concerned with thoughts and feelings – the complete opposite of the Conrad I was expecting.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just thought I was getting someone else. Instead there’s Archer, the hitman who never asked questions until someone tried to take him out, and now he’s running for his life and feeling the first pangs of love, even if he doesn’t recognise it. He’s kind of hard to get to know, simply because he doesn’t even know himself very well. He has a lot to learn as the book progresses, not least how to let go some of his hard-won control but to trust Conrad too. As such much of the romance isn’t particularly romantic, and most of the sex left me more worried about Conrad’s back than anything else. There were some moments that were special, but it never becomes the slightest bit sweet. Partly because they don’t have much in common except that they’re both dominant, both broken and busy lusting after each other as they try to survive.

However, this book is more than a romance. In fact, the suspense is the stronger side of the plot, even if it does venture into the realms of ridiculous coincidences at times. There are lots of interconnecting webs that tie random things together in wildly convoluted ways, yet I really enjoyed it. Because of the random twists it kept taking I was never quite sure where it was going next, and there were plenty of times when I wondered how these two could possibly end up together. Which kept me gleefully reading right up to the end.

The best thing in this book, though, is Deefor, Archer’s dog. He’s adorable and cute and brilliant. Loved him.

So, if you’re coming to this after reading Falling be prepared for a very different Conrad, hopefully then you won’t be too disappointed. If you’re new, don’t worry about that, but likewise be prepared for a real tussle of dominance in the main relationship and not a whole lot of romance. If you like suspense with your M/M then you should enjoy this, as long as you don’t mind suspending your disbelief on several occasions. It will certainly keep you guessing right up to the final pages. And likely leave you wishing for a Deefor of your own.

Breaking is out July 28th!
Visit Barbara Elsborg for more details.


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