Author: Sean Michael
Length: 210 pages
Publisher: Torquere Press
It's never easy to run into an ex-lover, especially when the break-up was a bad one. That's exactly what happens to Hunter Barrister one evening at the Hammer, though, and he's more upset over seeing the amazingly beautiful Forrest Greune again than he ever thought he could be. When he finds out that Forrest is not only back in town for good, but wants to join the Hammer Club, board member Hunter balks and refuses to give his consenting vote.
Forrest, a now retired model, isn't the same flighty young thing he was when he and Hunter were together, and he wishes Hunter could just move on. When that doesn't happen, he finds himself amusing himself, elsewhere with disastrous results. Broken and injured, Forrest is surprised to find Hunter the one at his bedside, the one who sticks with him and offers support through everything.
Can Forrest and Hunter put their history behind them and be what they need for each other, or will guilt, fear and the past put an end to the relationship neither of them seem to be able to abandon?
This is rather typical of the Hammer series, although with less sex than usual, which is a good thing. Hunter is still hurting ten or so years later, because his soon-to-be-permanent sub Forrest, a model, cheated on him the night they were going to sign a contract. Out of the blue, Forrest shows up at the Hammer club applying for membership. Hunter vetoes it, because he's certain Forrest is just a flighty feckless jerk. However soon after Forrest is attacked by three men and badly injured, nearly dying. He is suffering from numerous stab wounds and his face is cut badly, along with rectal and throat tearing and his hands were smashed with hammer and are broken. Hunter realizes it was his fault because if he'd not banned Forrest from the club, he would have been there rather than out somewhere else he could get targeted, and finally admits he still loves him and intends to take care of Forrest and help him recover.
I said there was less sex than usual, because if Hunter had had the amazing healing cock, I would have been really annoyed. Forrest is deeply depressed and wishes he'd died in the attack. He was a model, although he'd just retired, and hates the scarring he now has, and has nightmares and emotional trauma he has to deal with daily. However Hunter continues to help gently push him back into the world. I don't think there is any sexual interaction between them for nearly 6 months or something close to that and Forrest is natural afraid he can never be sexual again and has many of the irrational fears that I think a victim of that type of attack would have.
I did find the middle dragged a bit, because not much happens. Forrest apologises a lot and Hunter says don't. Forrest freaks out asking for reassurance and Hunter gives it, over and over and over. While I think that's realistic, it does get a bit repetitive for a reader to see it play out over and over. There is no miracle cure. Forrest's hands will never work properly again, he has trouble holding a wine glass or opening buttons, he'll always have emotional issues probably, but I think that fit rather than just "whee, now you're okay".
For those who like Jack and Oliver, Jack is Forrest's friend and they spend some kinky time at the beach house toward the end of the book. So it's certainly not sex-free, but it makes sense in the context of what happened. The description of his attack is really awful and it comes up in bits and pieces as Forrest reveals more and you find out there was more to the whole cheating incident than Hunter knew all those years ago, leading to a big ugly mess at the end. But on the whole I thought it was some of the more realistic portrayals of someone who has been attacked. Totally realistic? I can't say, I've never known anyone who endure that, nor thankfully had to myself, so perhaps not perfect, but there was no magical cure. Also unlike some Hammer books where the crime plot is rather ignored, this one does come to a head at the end when Forrest has to face his abusers, so it wasn't just brushed under the rug in favour of the relationship.One of the better Hammer stories I've read lately (if a bit repetitive at times), but if the whole attack thing makes you uneasy, while it's not described in detail, it doesn't really pull any punches and his emotional reaction is quite visceral on the page so it may be a factor for some readers.