I recently received a new review of THE FIXER from Night Owl Reviews, and I was delighted with it because it highlighted what I love most about dark romance: flawed characters who somehow work through their issues to make a connection with each other.
For me, dark romance isn’t about violence (although I don’t shy away from it). It’s about the characters and their traumas, and how they push themselves to reach beyond their limitations to find love.
In THE FIXER, Zero is damaged and ruthless, but he’s also very honest with himself about who he is, and that makes for a fabulous character (especially when he unexpectedly falls for a man who is too young, too innocent, and too kind for him). He knows it’s wrong to seduce Julian, but he does it anyway. 😀
“This dark m/m contemporary story has an unlikely hero but he is portrayed as having such charisma that one can’t help but admire his efficiency and ruthlessness. I was fascinated by watching the relationship evolve and by the way the two men complement each other. Justin has unexpected depths and I like that he’s not a naïve young thing who is caught in Zero’s spell.”
Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing
When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.
Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.
Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?
Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.
“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.
Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”
“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”
Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”
“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.
Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”
Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”
Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.
Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”
Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.
“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.
“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”
“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.
“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.
“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.
Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”
“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.
“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.
When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.
Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”