Review: Scars and Secrets, by Avril Ashton


cover-avrilashton-scarsandsecretsAfter 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.


Dates read:
Edition read:
April 29, 2016
Sinner’s Haven Publishing
Contemporary, Erotica, M/M, Bisexual, GLBT+
218 e-book pages
3rd person
Loose Ends, book 1
May 3-5, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Loose Ends – that’s the perfect name for this series.

See, what I didn’t pay much attention to, but what this is, in fact, is a spinoff from the Run This Town series. That’s awesome because there were a lot of folks who didn’t get much spotlight action — but had juuuuust enough to make me wonder. And hope. And, to be honest, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to aaaaalll those badasses.

Take a hint from me, though. Read the Run This Town series before getting tangled up in Loose Ends. Seriously. And there’s a chance this also spins off of the Brooklyn Sinners series. I don’t know…haven’t read it yet. But, there’s lots and lots of backstory that’s referenced, characters who climb all up in this who made me realize Avril Ashton wasn’t just spinning some new yarn from some leftover threads. Nope. She’s weaving a whole new section, making this universe a whole lot bigger and badder. Nearly everyone who had a book in the other series popped their head in or had a strong supporting role in this book. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing lots more of them.

I loved the story. I love the way this woman writes. She gets dark and dirty and digs deep into some seriously twisted mind-fuck drama. The sex is off the charts nasty, kinky of the best kind. Folks who give no fucks about where or how they fuck. Good God Almighty.

The MCs here Levi and Van are fighting for and against second chance. But, they’re both damaged in nearly irreparable ways. Van hurt Levi badly, unforgivably, and turned Levi’s life upside down and inside out in the process. Van’s been through the wringer too — and that’s putting it mildly. The dude has been literally tortured and put on some assignments that OSHA might have a few remarks about. His demons and experiences are terrifying. But, he knows that Levi is the man for him, no question.

This world of rogue government agents of questionable sanity, drug lords, gun runners, kingpins, and criminals is — ummmm…wow. Seriously. This is the kind of stuff you read with BIG EYES because holy hell at the backstabbing underworld intrigue that is way the hell and gone from my suburban reality.

It was just as dark and gritty as what I know to expect from this author. It punched me in the gut with the feels, wondering how these guys would find some semblance of happy…and who would get their head blown off in the process.

But…this isn’t perfection, hence a little bit of a lower rating than I’d like.

So….my gripes:

I wish Avril would have a word with her editing pals to sharpen up on the next go-around. There were lots and lots of silly typos and one or two continuity issues that seriously should have been caught. I try not to call this kind of thing out because usually I can ignore it. But, there were more than ten in the first 10%, and they didn’t stop. I just couldn’t help but get jarred out of the reading experience with every one that crossed my eye.

Also, and maybe this is just a peeve of mine, and maybe I’m largely alone in this. I don’t know. But, I felt there was a lot of repetition in stating the obstacles, the feelings, the inner monologues being restated, out loud, down the road a few pages later. I get it the first time. One repeat is okay as a reminder and reinforcement to drive it home…more than that and I start grinding my teeth. I think the story would have been tighter had some of that been scaled back.

Then, too, this book was mostly about Levi and Van, but we got into the heads of a few other folks who, well, already had their book. I was glad to learn they were mostly doing okay. But, in romance and erotica, I don’t want to be in the heads of anyone who’s not in the starring relationship. If one or both of the MCs doesn’t know what’s going on, then I don’t think the reader should either. And, as much as I loooove Avril’s sex scenes, I don’t want them for anyone but the main characters, unless, you know, we’re being voyeurs along with the MCs.

So, yeah. Lot’s of love for this book, unfortunately, it got a bit tarnished along the way.

Still reading the rest, though.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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