Title: Last Line
Author: Harper Fox
Narrator: David Thorpe
Release: 1st December 2016
Length: 9 hrs
John Griffin and Michael South - agents in the renegade counterterrorism agency Last Line, and closer than brothers. It's a fast-lane life of danger and excitement. John loves every minute of it, but he's facing one big problem now: his feelings for Mike have flared up from friendship into a passion he can no longer hide. And Mike, although the bravest and best of partners, doesn't feel the same.
Their one sexual encounter leaves them baffled and alienated from one another. Mike is a haunted man, shaken by flashbacks to his past life as an MI5 agent and a mission in Russia that went terribly wrong. He's been left with a need for violence between the sheets, and John isn't prepared to hurt him.
Not everyone has Mike's best interests at heart. Their ruthless boss hires a ghost from Mike's past to help track down a Russian war criminal who's planted a nuclear device in the heart of London. Anzhel Mattvei knows all of Mike's dark secrets, and soon regains his former sexual thralldom over him, leaving Mike locked in battle for his will and his soul. Anzhel has turned Mike into a human detonation device. Only John's love can pull him back from the brink - and save millions of lives in the fallout zone.
©2014 Harper Fox (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
So the first question I have is where do I start my review? Hhhmm……… eerrm……….aahhh…….. WOW! I must admit to being completely surprised by this book but in a good way. This book has been on my list waiting to be read for like ever! But time is always the enemy so when I got the chance to listen to the recently released audiobook version then I jumped at it. Harper Fox, you little minx (lol!) you definitely threw me a complete curve ball with this book. I usually don’t do dark, twisted and violent, the wimp that I am. I normally don’t go down those avenues but this book was seriously one hell of a ride for sure.
First up I would say this book in places, well quite a few places really, is not for the squeamish or faint of heart among us. If fluffy kittens, puppies and unicorns are more your thing then this book could be a little upsetting. But any book that can have an effect on me while reading is a winner. This one definitely had me wincing and cringing at times for sure.
Michael is working for Last Line, a secret counterterrorism agency in London, after leaving MI5 due to a mission that quite didn't go according to plan. Obviously anyone who works in this kind of environment has to be a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic anyway. Michael is dark and brooding with more secrets than any one person could ever carry, his mind still has blanks and can’t remember exactly everything that happened to him while working with MI5. His partner John is a little younger, completely fearless, if not a little fool hardy, and as a team they complement each other wonderfully. See, that’s what I like about Harper’s stories. Her characters are deliciously complex, sometimes totally opposite but also complimentary at the same time. John has fancied Michael since the beginning but because they are used to covering up their emotions, almost emotionally stunted, then it takes a particular event to bring these two together. John is used to just having one night stands and trysts but never a relationship. He has always held a flame for Michael even though he didn’t always recognise it himself. But after one particular encounter and set of circumstances whilst on call then all bets are off and the pair of them end up in the sack in a frenzy.
Well, when I mean the sack I think it was the kitchen table, but OMG!!!!!! Harper gives her boys in this book a right good trouncing, emotionally and physically. The sex scenes were….. aahhh …. in places like …… OMG this is really hot – phew! ……then …… OMG this is so seriously sick and twisted ……. then …….. eeewww …….. this can’t be normal, surely? Can it? …………. Harper took me to the deepest depths and darkest corners of sexual depravity, pushing my boundaries all the way. Yes, listening to this in my car was a whole new experience. One particular scene had me cringing and wincing with revulsion, where all I wanted to do was close my eyes, think of unicorns and pretty flowers myself. The problem being, no chance of that while sat behind the wheel of my car, I would have shot straight off the Autobahn. So, any book that can cause a reaction in me is good! Whether it’s crying happy tears, sobbing with sadness, feeling angry with frustration or wanting to hide behind the sofa cushions with fear or disgust, it’s ALL good for me. That’s why I read.
So coming back to my, “That can’t be normal?” question. Thank goodness Harper does provide a reason for Michael’s sexual preferences by the end of the book. If she had left me thinking that this was totally normal I would never have ventured into the shower alone ever again! This is also John’s dilemma, he has a strong attraction and love for Michael. You can see how great they could be together and although he tries to be as understanding and patient as possible with Michael, what Michael needs and craves in bed is a little too sick and twisted for John to feel totally happy with. This provides for a whole new kind of sexual tension that until now I have never experienced from Harper.
Michael and John get put on a case that is connected to Michael’s previous job with MI5. Michael has to break through the psychological demons that are holding him prisoner and not letting him move forward. He has to break these fetters and this can only be done by him alone, either solving the case or bumping off the bad guys. Once again the bad guys here are also not your usual cookie-cutter bad guys. They are also complex, dark, raw and gritty in the best James Bond style story. The thriller side of the story is well done, it’s not one of constant and fast car chases, explosions, shoot outs and action. That’s all there and is heart pounding when it happens, but there is the paranormal / psycho side of what Michael went through and whether or not he’ll fall victim to this or can break it. Also how the relationship between Michael and John develops and will they ever reach a point in their lives and careers, present job excluded, as to whether they might be able to lead a life together as a couple.
After all is said and done, I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It made me wince, it made my heart pound with action, it creeped me out at times, all signs of a great book. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who likes action / thrillers whilst taking a walk on the dark side of the human psyche.
David Thorpe is a new to me British narrator and all I can say is WOW! WOW, WOW, WOW! British narrators can be a little hit and miss for me but David’s narration hit the bull’s-eye for me. All characters were suitably voiced, the Russian terrorists with their accent, dark and brooding. John’s slight Liverpool accent giving him a lighter more human quality and Michael the tough alpha male. All consistent and all well done. The voice characterisations are one thing but the narrative was also brilliant brining the book to life, and believe me with some of the sex scenes this book is now easy ride. So David with one book goes on my list of favourite narrators without a second thought and will be looking forward to what he does with book two.
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Meet Harper Fox
Bestselling British author Harper Fox has established herself as a firm favourite with readers of M/M romance. Over the past three years, she’s delivered thirteen critically acclaimed novels, novellas and short stories, including Scrap Metal (Rainbow Awards Honourable Mention),The Salisbury Key(CAPA nominated) and Life After Joe (Band of Thebes Best LGBT Book, 2011).
Harper takes her inspiration from a wide range of British settings – wild countryside, edgy urban and most things in between – and loves to use these backdrops for stories about sexy gay men sharing passion, adventure and happy endings. She also runs her own publishing imprint, FoxTales.
Harper has recently returned from Cornwall to her native Northumberland, and already the bleak moorlands around her home are providing a wealth of new ideas for future work.