Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Last Line

Last Line by Harper Fox was an intense, thrilling, and incredibly satisfying read. Last Line was at times dark and frightening and other times heart-wrenching. I was crushed by the torture of one of the heroes and held immediate hatred for a villain. Definitely not for the reader looking for a light read, this book is one that stays with the reader long after the final page is read.

John is in love with his partner in the renegade counterterrorism agency where they work. For years, he’s tried to hide it away and maintain a friendship with Michael who has proven to be the most loyal of friends and partners. And though their friendship is without question, John doesn’t know that Michael returns his feelings. Sexy as hell but mostly just aloof, Michael is haunted by memories of his final mission as a M15 agent where he was captured and tortured. He feels incapable of love.

A new assignment leads closer to discovering the details behind Michael’s capture. They grow closer – finally giving in to their mutual attraction only to have their one sexual encounter drive them apart. John is hoping for tender while Michael’s torture has somehow left him needing a violence John can’t deliver. Then add in Anzhel Mattvei, the charismatic agent who held Michael “Mikhali” captive in Russia. He uses the psychological programming used during captivity to control Michael again. And Michael finds himself fighting for possession of his will and his soul while the Russian war criminal Anzhel sets Michael up to detonate a hidden nuclear device in London.

With multiple twists and turns, and complicated plot caveats, John commits himself to finding a way to help Michael overcome his programming. In the midst of all this violence and darkness, the sweetest undertone is that it appears John’s love provides Michael something to hold onto so that he can fight against the programming. Together with Quin, John’s little brother and a great secondary character, John stands by Michael to the end. It was dramatic and nail-biting but absolutely great writing.

My only contention which may be fixed in a hinted upon sequel is the supernatural element. It seemed the author didn’t fully commit to this storyline because it was there but questionably so. It either needed to be a more significant part of the story or left out altogether – both would’ve served the story fine. But as is, readers may just get enough to feel confused.

Regardless, Last Line is a tightly written, intensely dark and brooding, complex love story that readers will devour. RATING: 4 Chocolate-dipped Strawberries.
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