Reviewed by JustJen
Title: Scars and Secrets
Author: Avril Ashton
Series: Loose Ends #1
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 218 Pages
Publisher: Sinner’s Haven Publishing
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: After an undercover assignment that changed his life forever, FBI agent Donovan Cintron is barely hanging on to sanity. His new mission is to forget, by any means necessary, so he tries his hardest. Pills. Booze. The warm bodies that never quite measure up to what he’d had. What he’d lost. It’s almost a relief when he learns his identity might be compromised—except he’s not the only one exposed. So is the husband he hasn’t stopped needing all these years later. He’d been aching to die, but for Levi Nieto, Donovan will live. To protect. To regret. To remember.
The realization that everything he loved was a farce sent Levi Nieto spinning out of control, and running away from the memories. Now Donovan is back in his life, still fully entrenched in darkness. Their physical connection is one thing, but the truth of who they are to each other remains trapped among the anger, violence and lies suffocating them. Fixing what’s broken will take more than each man exposing his scars. Secrets—and blood—must be spilled.
Review: I grabbed this one without realizing it was a spin off of Ms. Ashton’s other series, Brooklyn Sinners and Run This Town. While I think it can be read as a stand alone (I hadn’t read all the books in those other series and did fine), many of the characters and couples in this story have had their own stories told already, and I think I would have had more of a connection with them had I read those previously. You’d definitely have a better understanding of who’s who if you read the others before this one.
Here, we have a couple who had an unbelievable connection, but it was riddled and tainted with deceit. Donovan was sent undercover to get close to Levi in order to find a connection to his drug cartel brothers. In doing so, Donovan quickly realized his feelings for Levi were real, and he allowed himself to basically pretend that was his life. They were in love, seemed perfect for each other and even got married. But then, the dark parts of Donovan’s life interfered and spilled the beans to Levi, sending him running far away from Donovan. Donovan has basically accepted this from afar, until it becomes clear that Levi is in actual danger. then, he steps in and tries to recover everything he lost with Levi over the last seven years.
There is a lot at play here and a lot more to the story than meets the eye. The whys of Donovan’s betrayal, the people who manipulated him and Levi, the seemingly bad guys who ended up being the good guys (at least to Levi and then Donovan), Donovan’s past, with his bio dad and even his stepmother who just about destroyed him, are just a few factors at play here. There’s a long lost brother causing a lot of family lines being blurred and a whole lot of who can you trust when everyone seems to have a different agenda. So, yeah, a lot going on.
It took me a little getting used to the style of this book. It does a lot of telling in a somewhat disjointed or choppy feel with quick sentences or thoughts. But the storyline was so interesting that I was quickly turning pages to get to the answers. The side characters (from the other books) all played integral roles in one way or another in the lives of Van and Levi. I loved seeming them all in this one, especially Is and Reg, oh my! I’m not sure how I missed their story, but I immediately wanted to run back and catch back up. Needless to say, if you enjoy her other books, you will definitely love this one. It is signature Avril Ashton – dark and gritty, edgy and sexy, hot but sweet. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series, even though I’m not sure how Dutch can redeem himself.
Overall Impression: I really liked it
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*