Two Bodies, BREAKING, and Healing–A Review

Hi there! I’m happy to share a review for a contemporary M/M romantic suspense from Barbara Elsborg. BREAKING is a romance between two men that may soon not exist. That’s right, somebody, or somebodies more like, want the main characters…dead.

Breaking (Fall or Break, #2)About the book:

Archer Hart is on the move before the man he’s just killed is found. When a bullet whizzes past his ear, he realizes hunter is now hunted. So much for his retirement plans. Someone wants him dead and all he can do is keep running.

Downed by a hit and run driver, barrister Conrad Black is certain the ‘accident’ was deliberate but he has no proof or support. In recovery, struggling to work out of partial paralysis, he has plenty of time to wonder who regrets not striking him harder. At this point, running anywhere is a distant dream.

The confidence, determination and stamina of two alphas males will mean little if neither is willing to bend—seize the love offered—and work together to understand why they’re suddenly both marked men. Not easy for either when Archer has broken the law in the worst possible way and Conrad is the law.

My Review:

4.5 Stars for this exhilarating M/M romantic thriller. This is the second book in a series, but fully enjoyable as a standalone.

Conrad Black is a barrister who’s recovering from a traumatic injury. He was run down by a vehicle and thought to be paralyzed, but may recover given time and therapy. He’s also convinced that his accident was no accident, and he’s got an investigator working leads from his previous cases.  He moves into a secluded beach house in northern England to recuperate.

“Archer Holt” is a freelance assassin, formerly of the SAS (British CIA), a fringe element that handles the dirty business of eliminating those criminals who put themselves in untouchable places. His last hit went sideways–he got the mark, but was nearly taken out by a second sniper. Going deep underground on the mainland, he attempts for find a life for himself. Not so easy for a man with no history or ties. He’s surfing when his tether snaps and he’s knocked unconscious in the ocean.

Sullen and paranoid, Conrad’s frustrated with his lack of walking two months out from his recovery. To prove to himself that he CAN get better he makes an ill-advised sojourn onto the beach, and notices a surfer go down, and not come back up. The surfer’s dog is going wild on the beach and Conrad is compelled to try to help. He crutches out to the water, and into the water, and manages to pull Archer from the surf. And this begins the most unlikely of romances: an assassin and a barrister.

I really loved the alpha dynamic here. Usually I’m put off by bluster, but each man is so cagey, they barely argue. Posturing is at a minimum, and almost always with a thread of ironic humor. Conrad and Archer are both broken, survivors of molestation and rape as young men/boys. They have an ingrained sense of control, and a deep need to maintain it. Archer knows he should leave, but is completely drawn to Conrad. Conrad knows that Archer’s bad news, but he’s also inflamed by the idea of Archer’s dark history. Plus, each man knows that there are killers in the ranks, but they have no idea who has made them targets. While Conrad saves Archer, Archer saves him right back. It’s an intense read with double and triple crosses, and several high-stakes chases.

In the midst of that is a love story that starts rough and ends tenderly. The fears are ever-present. Will Conrad survive? Will Archer? Can they really make it together? It was M/M Jason Bourne–in the best way.

I think, though, that there was a bit of the story that languished for me, and I wanted that bit to get faster. I kept waiting for the All Clear, and I feared it might never come as the political machinations played out. Conrad is a trouper, and an  unfailing light in Archer’s darkness. He’s also preoccupied with his position in their relationship: Bottom. He hates the idea of submitting, at first, and even when he enjoys it he knows it will be a deal breaker if that is all he’s allowed to do. Archer takes a long time to open up–in terms of actual pages, that is. The story’s time frame is compressed. Archer and Conrad have only known each other for a few days before they are both in mortal peril. Again. That said, they strike a tight bond in those hours and days, and Archer’s biggest secret is more vulnerable than horrifying. I really enjoyed how Conrad accepted it and gave Archer what he needed, even if it wasn’t what he wanted. The sexytimes are as intense as the thriller plot, and D-Lish.

Interested? You can find BREAKING on Goodreads, Samhain Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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