Reviewed by Susan65
Title: Dark & Dazzling
Author: Elizabeth Varlet
Series:Sassy Boys #2
Heroes: Azariah “Z” Hayes/Connelly Reid
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 261 Pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: November 7, 2016
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Z doesn’t need a hero…
Azariah “Z” Hayes is a diamond. Equal parts strength and sparkle, he’s more than capable of standing on his own stilettos. So if waiting tables and stripping at The Vibe are what it takes to keep a roof over his head, well, there are worse ways to earn a living.
Connelly is a white knight with a badge…
For NYPD detective Connelly Reid, to serve and protect is just another day at the office—even if that means protecting himself from his own true desires. He’s been curious about Z, his waiter, for months, but it’s not until he sees him in his makeup and heels that the curiosity becomes a fierce attraction. Z, despite all his over-the-top dazzle, might just be the man Connelly has been waiting for his entire life.
But when Connelly investigates underground porn and drug activity with ties to The Vibe, one thing becomes very clear—acting on what he knows is going to hurt Z, financially and emotionally. And though Connelly would love nothing more than to fix all of Z’s problems, no amount of mind-blowing sex can make Z comfortable becoming dependent on his lover. Yet if there’s one thing Connelly knows from his years on the force, it’s this: when things go bad, you need a trusted partner to have your back.
Review: So, this was a bit different than the first book, but in a way, not, at the same time. Z and Ansel are best friends, still sexy dancing with Tam and Lirim, and they both had some serious issues to work through and they both got their happily ever after in the most unexpected persons. I loved book one, Fierce & Fabulous, more than this one, but I still could not put down Azariah (Z) and Connelly’s book, either. It was much darker but no less riveting.
Z is a tough nut and a super sarcastic, arrogant and very proud man, too. Too proud to ask for help, even from his friends. He is damaged beyond belief and really has not been given much love in his life after his mom died when he was still so young. He tries very hard to be enough and to do what needs to be done to take care of himself, but at times, it appears the universe has it out for him. I saw in another review that Z had no redeeming qualities, and I could not disagree more. He had the world stacked against him, and he needed to work through so much before he could utter those three little words to Connelly, otherwise, they would not have meant much.
There are some unexpected and shocking aspects in this book that should have had a trigger warning. I personally don’t need them, but I have seen enough reviews to know that many people do. So I will warn you. There is a perception of rape, non-consensual sex, and sex for pay in this book. It was harsh and the shock value of it kind of took me by surprise. It didn’t ruin anything for me, but it did make it more apparent just how desperate Z really was, and what he would do to protect his friends. And how Connelly could not fix him, no matter how hard he tried. Connelly is a fixer, and it drove me a little bonkers especially with his sister. Yes, I understand that she was going through a tough time, but still…a bit much for me. I was glad he stopped it at the end. Loved Raoul, best cop partner ever.
There is a bit of family drama, workplace homophobia, and we know Lirim has a LONG road ahead of him after what happens in this book. I was kinda hoping his story was next, but Tam is amazing, too. I am kinda wondering what is going to happen to The Vibe after all that, but I know we will see our boys dancing again soon. And I, for one, am looking forward to it.
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*