Hostile Ground, A Voinov and L.A Witt
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance
Tags: Suspense, Undercover Cop, Contemporary
Length: 362 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
Mahir is the fourth undercover cop to try to infiltrate Seattle pimp and crime lord Gene Lombardi’s operation. They know Lombardi is into prostitution and drugs, but there are other illegal activities that are not fully known, yet. The three officers preceding Mahir, or Saeed as he is known for the operation, have all been executed. Lombardi owns a local strip club and the only people allowed on Lombardi’s security team are gay – no dicking the strippers allowed in his business. They also have to pass the blowjob test for the head of security, David Ridley. Not too hard a task for the gay Mahir, because as much as Mahir is repulsed by Ridley’s reputation, that he may have killed fellow police officers, he is also surprisingly attracted to the commanding demeanour and dominance of the man.
Ridley has the air of someone very dangerous, very cold. He has been the head of Lombardi’s security detail at the club for eighteen months. Ridley, it seems, likes his men tall, dark, handsome and intelligent, gauging his intense reaction and attraction to Saeed/Mahir from the beginning. Lombardi is on high alert after the undercover cops have been weeded out, plus there are undercovers popping into the club on an almost nightly basis.
Ridley faced forward again. “I need to know for sure I can trust you.”
“And if I can’t convince you to trust me?”
Ridley glanced at him just before they stepped into the lounge. “Then the only ones who will ever find your body are some ambitious archaeologists that aren’t even born yet.”
So there are other tests, apart from the give-Ridley-a-blowjob-like-you-mean-it-test, to see who might be a cop, including snorting cocaine. And Mahir is not given the choice to volunteer for any “test.” Mahir not only blows Ridley, but he becomes his lover, something that Ridley knows is not in Lombardi’s criminal-corporation rule book – lovers tend to support one another rather than his business, so it’s dangerous getting this close.
Mahir is not loving the undercover work, it is getting nastier by the minute, and just to complicate his life further, his seventeen year old nephew, Kinzer, has just come out and moved into Mahir’s house. He has a poor track record with his strict father, Mahir’s brother, and Kinzer is closer to his Uncle Mahir. So Mahir let’s him stay at his actual home in Bremerton while he lives in a crappy crash pad across the Sound in Seattle for his undercover work. Mahir is caught in a dangerous job, dangerous work liaison, he is worried about his nephew living at his house alone, his general family dynamic and trying to get intel quickly. All while staying alive. He pushes to work downstairs in the club’s basement and sees things that he can’t do a thing about, but it allows him some key information and some frightening developments all at once. He also can’t help but slip back to Bremerton on occasion to check on an increasingly frustrated Kinzer who doesn’t understand why his uncle can’t be at home with him when he needs some family support.
I won’t say anymore about the plot because I’ll give things away. It is what it is and the blurb gives plenty. I will say this, though, the book is an interesting read on a number of levels. Ridley and Mahir have palpable, off-the-charts chemistry and sex, the authors have written a very erotic and sensual book. If you are like me and like kissing (on top of great sex) – dark, aggressive, push-and-pull, tender, dominating, this book is a treat!! The suspense is fine. What is really going on? Is Ridley good? Is he bad? Where will either route lead them as lovers? You can work certain things out fairly quickly. In fact, the authors let you in on one facet, but that in itself could be a ruse. It makes the journey an enjoyable one. I kept on turning those pages. There are some amazing lines and dialogue in Hostile Ground. I could have pulled out quote after quote for this review. I like the middle-ground look taken by the authors at America post 9/11 where things are not so easy for people who have a certain look or ethnicity.
And speaking of that, there is an edge of tension as Mahir is not trusted. He is of Middle Eastern heritage – Syrian – and that may as well say terrorist to a few people. He gets all the ‘jokes’ and put-downs thrown his way –
Upstairs, another goon patted Mahir down, devoting more time to Mahir’s ass than was necessary. He grinned. “So you’re Falafel Boy.”
And it’s not just from Lombardi or his security team, but from fellow cops. The lack of trust for a Muslim man, one who has served his country of birth, is wearing on him. He is also a gay Muslim. Double whammy. But it is handled very well. It is interesting to see Mahir get into the character of Saeed then have it juxtaposed against Mahir’s real thoughts and feelings. ‘Saeed’ allows him a voice, an anger, for being seen as a Muslim outsider – sand nigger, camel jockey, Haji….It also partly helps him pull it together when he feels he my not be able to.
Hostile Ground is another seamless co-write by Voinov and Witt. It is erotic, has suspense, it’s interesting, tense, and the characters have equal parts likability and flawed about them…which always makes for a good read. If any or all of these things appeal, then I say grab a copy when it is released because it is highly recommended reading.
ARC supplied from Riptide via NetGalley.