Once upon a time a high school boy loved another high school boy, and they had a torrid romance that ended in a spectacularly bad way- by Jack being gay bashed by his own lover, Nick, in order to hide his own homosexuality. fast forward several years, and jack is now a fairly successful businessman, running a clean up service. Not the sort that comes after a party and or provides general housekeeping services. Oh no, his firm is to be found cleaning p after murders, suicides, and so on.
Jack has an on again, off again thing going with a deeply closeted cop who fears coming out and keeping Jack will end his career. When he discovers who their latest suicide is, he knows he has to warn Jack, lest he fall apart. When jack hears Nick has killed himself, he sees it not only as a business opportunity, but a way to gain some closure to that extremely traumatic event in their shared past. When he goes to introduce his business to the family, he gets surprise- the house in need of cleaning is actually owned by Ryan, Nick's look alike cousin. Ryan is resistant to paying someone to clean up and thereby cash in on his cousin's death, but upon discovering just who Jack is and the why he wants to do it (in a VERY edited version of the who and why as Ryan has no clue that his married with children cousin was actually gay), he agrees to let Jack help him clean up the mess so that they both may work towards gaining closure together. Of course, Jack's cop isn't too thrilled about the whole Ryan thing as Jack and ryan get closer, and Jack does indeed fall apart over the whole Nick-Jack-Ryan thing. This ultimately leads to Jack's withholding of the entire Jack and Nick story from Ryan being exposed and it's probably no surprise to anyone that this has consequences.
It's a love story with wonderfully flawed characters that breathe life, with lives as gritty as their circumstances make them. Nothing is glossed over, overlooked, or prettied up. At times the story is brutal, while other moments are as tender as they come. A promising start to a new series that I'll be keeping my eye out for.
Grime and Punishment The Brothers Grime. 1Z.A. Maxfield.
Arc supplied by Netgalley.
First book I've read by this author - it won't be the last, I really enjoyed this story. Its a M/M romance and a very tender love story. I love romance regardless of sexualities. Jack's a super man, had a horrific accident which ended his fire-fighting career, but along with some long time friends starts up The Brothers Grime. Its a clean up firm for after disasters, deaths, accidents and allows him to still feel connected to helping people. His injuries limit his abilities on the physical side so he's mostly doing the paperwork side, office stuff and visiting sites for quotes. When he gets asked to quote for the latest job though its a tough one, its a gun suicide of someone he had a relationship with a long time ago, and it ended very badly with Jack getting beaten up. He's still carried feelings for Nick though all these years, and it's left him unable or unwilling to open himself to a relationship, so he's just done casual dates and friendships since then. He's reached a point though where he thinks maybe its time for more, but his on - off partner isn't out, says a Gay cop is not what he wants to be seen as. It's clear Jacks beating affected his friends too and left them afraid of coming out. Jack's a lovely man and its clear he's lonely, even though he has a great group of friends and colleagues.
At the job site Jack meets Ryan, Nick's cousin and owner of the house. He's stunned at first by how alike they look, and it gives him a mental jar. Ryan's a great guy, prone to picking up what he describes as "lost causes" though and has been badly let down in his choice of partners. Despite that he's still so open and loving, I really felt he and Jack deserved each other and would just fit so right. The heat between him and Jack is pretty immediate, and the sexual tension steaming. There are some sex scenes but well written and fit the story exactly. Ryan doesn't know Nick was gay - he had a wife and children, and kept it hidden from everyone, so has only Nick's version of what happened which is far from the truth, and he initially looks at Jack as someone different, and with different motives to that which he has. Ryan's lonely too, and as the two work together on the clean up (Ryan wants to do it himself but Jack persuades him its not a good idea, but he insists on helping) they learn more about each other. Ryan phones Jack the night after the clean up, early in the morning feeling very upset and not realising he'd feel that way, and he needs someone to talk to. Jack's awake anyway, having similar feelings and the two chat for a long time. They quickly they get closer and become lovers. Jack's stunned that Ryan is so open about showing how he feels about him in front of others, and they go out together to the memorial sevice and on a date. Jack's always been kept in the background before, he's out but never been with anyone for more than just sex. Its a new thing for him and he finds he likes it. He's still hiding from Ryan though about the truth of him and Nick, and of course secrets have a way of being outed and causing problems.....
It's a great love story, very tender and yet sizzling hot at times. I really enjoyed the story behind it, this novel is not just an excuse to write sex but a real tale worth reading, and one I'll be happy to re read. The best stories always bear re reading, and I find things I missed first time round. Its priced at £3.97 for 166 pages so quite expensive on my VFM scale, but the re reading possibilities of course brings that down to a much better value. I'd rather pay more for a book I can re read than have a cheap one off read.
Stars: well, great story, lovely characters that I felt for and a HEA so a full five.
This tale is a very well-written 'real' MM love story. The leads initially come together due to Ryan's cousin Nick's suicide, with Jack being the clean-up guy, whose ulterior motive for helping is to obtain closure from his and Nick's ill-fated teenage love affair...
The tale engaged me from the very start, and in fact, I had begun to think that another male character would end up getting a HFN/HEA with Jack, but the tale was done well and like I said, it seemed real, as if these were regular Joes dealing with real life.
Unlike most MM novels that I tend to read, and I do read many, this was very lite on the sex, which is not to say that when it happened, it wasn't hot and sexy; the novel had more tale than anything else.
This seems to be the first in the Grime and Punishment series, and I'd certainly be interested to read more. A great intro to ZA Maxwell.
Ebook courtesy of Loose ID LLC and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
on 18 July 2013
Firstly let me say I love this author. Her novels got me hooked on the M/M genre, but I found this one did not hit the spot. I felt like I was reading the middle novel of a trilogy - events in the past were hinted at, but not fully explained and the ending just happened leaving a number of loose endings. I never connected with Jack and Ryan like I did with characters in her other novels. I also missed the humour that is a big part of her writing (think Crossing Borders, Drawn Together)
It may be that I am doing ZAM a disservice and she plans a follow up novel that will explain some of the unanswerred questions and ties up the loose endings. I certainly hope so because I definitely felt like more could be written about the characters.
That said, it is always a pleasure to read her books because they are well written and flow well and I look forward to her next book due out soon.
on 29 December 2014
Surprisingly sweet read, I expected it to be angstier, although with the subject broached in the book you might be looking at this review and giving me the stinkeye, because really, subjects can't get any more serious than the ones in this book. Having said that, the relationship itself, wasn't as angsty as I expected.
This is not a complaint! Really enjoyed this. Jack <3 I absolutely loved everything about Jack, and Ryan was so lovable. The two of them together just made me feel so in love with what was growing between them, and protective of it too.
And then something that made me feel so strongly!!! (view spoiler) Again, also not a complaint, I loved that the story got such a reaction out of me. And in the end, I want to read about Dave too and Gabe. (view spoiler)
Anyway. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Why isn't the next one out yet?