Title: Arctic Absolution
Author: Lynn Kelling
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction
Length: 257 pages
Blurb: Dixon Rowe is a good man and a good cop who keeps finding himself in bed with the enemy. After he picks up a young ex-con named Jaye Larson for stealing food, Dixon is seduced by the possibility of helping someone truly in need. He tells himself he’s assisting young Jaye out of the goodness of his heart–not because of how sexy Jaye is under all of the tattoos and defiance. But temptation entangles them as the malicious ghosts of Jaye’s past returns to haunt their every step. Jaye’s ghosts are bad enough, but the demon from Dixon’s past is real enough to put both of their lives in danger. (M/M)
Review: This is one intense, painful, twisted, terrifying, harsh, beautiful, anguished and hopeful ride.
For much of the beginning of the story I was squirming and horrified. I was hooked in and couldn’t stop reading, but it was so hard. That feeling like you know this is personal and ugly and private, but you can’t look away. You have to know what happened, what will happen next, and will in the end. And because you know that if you look away, if you flinch, they’ll believe all those evil whispers and you’ll have failed them. So you hold their eyes and you try as hard as you can not to flinch and you hope with all of your heart that things will be okay.
This is the love story of two very broken men. While on the surface they seem very different, and they are different in so many ways, but scratch the surface and they share some very similar pain and damage. That damage will either break them individually and as a couple or they will help heal each other and it will meld them together into something so strong and lasting that nothing but death can ever part them.
Dixon is a big, strong honorable cop. He wants to be a good man. He wants to choose things that are good for him and healthy and help people. He wants to be able to respect himself. When he meets Jaye he wants to help him. Well he wants to do a lot of other, more carnal things, but he’s trying really hard to just do the helping him thing. Jaye is not making it easy for him either.
Everyone needed someone to bother to care at some point, no matter who they were. In Dixon’s opinion, it was everyone’s duty to do what they could for everyone else. Why else were they there, breathing and existing, if not to contribute in a positive way?
Jaye is amazing. He is such a fighter and so strong and brave. His life has just been a horror show of misfortune and pain. The only currency he has is his body and he’s willing to pay for the protection and safety he knows Dixon can provide him. All he has to do is convince the sweet tempered cop to break the rules and give in to temptation.
It was game on. Now, Jaye knew, for a fact, Dixon was playing the game, too. If Jaye played carefully, he had a real chance to have everything he never believed could be his. He would get the protection he craved from someone who cared about him as a man, and not just an easy fuck. That kind of devotion was the big prize and one Jaye would have done anything it took to get.
They are both so complicated and so exquisitely damaged. The deeper we get the more layers of ugly, pain, shame, courage, anger, hope, fear, abuse we find. They both have a sense of honor. They both want to protect the other. They both surprised me, more than once. Every time I thought I knew who they were things shifted and I was watching a new layer unfold. One of the things that was so hopeful and beautiful was watching how together, for each other, they would shed each layer that was keeping them apart. For men with so many secrets they found an honesty with and to each other that was bold and cathartic.
I loved the way that Dixon and Jaye saw each other. Even before the emotions and the hormones kicked in to flood their systems with love vision. They found each other so beautiful, interesting, good, valuable. They saw so much more in each other than they were able to see in themselves. Until eventually they were able to see so much in themselves because of the way the other saw them.
“You can do this, Dix. I know you can. You just have to believe in yourself a little.”
Dixon had no response. It meant something that Jaye believed in him, and saw strength Dixon didn’t feel. Maybe that could be the hope that would get them through. He just had to figure out how to see himself through Jaye’s eyes instead of his own.
Marcus was the boogie man. The thing to be feared and run from. The stain he left on not just Dixon, but Dixon’s family and friends, was astonishing. So many people afraid of that man’s return. Afraid of losing Dixon to him again. I really hated Marcus. There was no redeeming him. He really was the evil bad guy.
This story is not for everyone. To say it has potential trigger warnings is a huge understatement. It is compelling and raw and addictive. It was hard to read at points and I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I’m glad I did. It was a journey and when I’d made it through to the other side it was a really nice place, happy, content, safe and full of love.
Reviewed by Nina