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on 1 April 2014
The story is told completely from Mark’s point of view and I must admit, so often I was wondering what was going on in Stephen’s head. I admit, the not knowing just heightened the story and left me feeling some of the confusion and genuine longing to know what was going on in Stephen’s head. Mark’s emotions were so strong, they tugged at my heart and left me feeling raw; I could feel the longing and desperation as if it were my own. Lanyon’s writing is so powerfully direct and emotional without being wordy and cliché, my favorite qualities in an author.

There aren’t many supporting characters in this story, and I don’t think they were needed. The characters we do meet, although not playing a large role in the story, are well-developed. With only a few appearances, I was still left understanding how important both Lena and the Old Man were to Stephen and Mark. Conveying such depth of relationships in minor characters is difficult to do well, but again is something I feel Lanyon always does brilliantly.

Overall, this story was a rollercoaster of emotions: sadness, hope, rejection, tenderness, fear, acceptance and so many more I won’t continue to list. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a lot of emotion with a dash of action and suspense packaged in a quick little read.
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on 12 July 2015
As usual with Josh Lanyon there is no padding and no risk of becoming bored whilst reading this novella. Brilliantly-written dialogue - and written in the first person so that the reader feels Mark's painful inability to talk about what has happened to him or deal with his reaction to it. He is in a state of trauma where he cannot initially feel anything, even though he has automatically run "home" to Stephen. Stephen cannot welcome him back and keeps himself at a physical distance whilst Mark shuts Stephen out emotionally. An intense evocation of the "wounded soldier" and "second chance" tropes and one of Lanyon's best novellas in my opinion. Resolution of the story involves character development in both heroes. I recommend the next story "I spy something wicked" which I avoided for a while because ISSB had been so intense I could not imagine the sequel would match it. But this is a writer you can trust.
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on 16 March 2014
Quite an emotional shock coming straight from Adrien English to this.

I'll get my one real bugbear out of the way first - the UK English slang really does jar on occasion, which should have been picked up by a proof-reader / editor. It pulled me out of a story that is otherwise beautifully written.

I will read the others in the series, although I was glad to reach the end of this, and also pleased that it was only a novella, as it was a tough read emotionally. Recommended, but don't expect any of the flippant humour of Adrien English of Holmes and Moriarity.
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on 3 March 2012
This was the second Josh Lanyon book I ever read - the first one was The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks. That one got me curious about Lanyon's work, but I Spy Something Bloody got me totally hooked! I guess it's useless to say that I've read lots of Lanyon's books since... and lucky me, I still have many to read!

I liked the way story was revealed by flashbacks. I was truly moved with Mark's struggle, his regret of the things that happened in the past and his strong emotions toward Stephen. While reading, I remember especially well the dreadful (and long lasting!!!) feeling when I actually thought that Stephen wouldn't take Mark back. Like always with his characters, Lanyon made Mark and Stephen feel so very real and their relationship so utterly and wonderfully complex. And the encounters between Mark and Stephen's new boyfriend Brent... oh excuse me... Bryce, were at the same time hilarious and teeth-grinding - and extremely entertaining!

I suppose that I'm a hopeless romantic, but the way Lanyon writes about longing, regret, forgiveness, love ... it just makes me so happy in the end. When a story is delivered in such an aesthetic and intelligent way, I want to savor it and linger with it - and come back to it some day, when I need cheering up.

The moment I finished the book I pushed the button and bought the second part of this story "I Spy Something Wicked", because I just HAD TO know more about Mark and Stephen. This kind of slow torture (that Lanyon delivers in shape of Mark and Stephen, Adrien and Jake, Swift and Max...) is the perfect kind of torture for me!
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on 15 December 2011
This is a very interesting love story, made even richer because of its dark undertones, and a believable, intense, sometimes heart-wrenching, conflict between the main characters.

One of the most interesting aspects in this book for me was Josh Lanyon's intelligent exploration of the psychological damage produced in Mark by all the years spent training and working as a spy, a kind of damage that in him translates mostly into a combination of selfish and manipulative behaviour, with a strong element of self-hate and the perception of being undeserving of love and a second chance with his ex lover Stephen, who is in many ways his polar opposite in terms of attitude and personality.

A very well written book, with intriguing characters who try to make their relationship work in the face of almost unbelievable external pressure as well as internal struggles. Josh Lanyon never loses sight of their humanity and that's all that makes all the difference and makes the reader empathise with them and the conflicts at the heart of the story.
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