Sunday, February 25, 2018

Release Blitz: Captive Hearts by A.E. Ryecart (Review+Excerpt+Giveaway)


Book Title: Captive Hearts (Deviant Hearts #1)

Author: A E Ryecart

Publisher: A E Ryecart

Cover Artist: Meredith Russell

Genre/s: Contemporary MM romance

Length: 77,200 words


“Too young, too blond, too skinny. Billy Grace was everything my head told me I didn’t want. Too bad my heart had other ideas.”

When Dashiell Slater uses his fists to stop a vicious assault, the last thing he expects is to be offered a job as reward for being a Good Samaritan. Out of work and short of cash, all he has to do is chauffeur Billy around. It’s easy money so saying yes should be a no-brainer. And if the offer’s not quite legal, so what? Dashiell’s smart and savvy, and knows how the world works. But there are strings attached, and Dashiell doesn’t want to get entangled. He’s ready to say no and walk away – until he sees the fear, despair and fathomless sadness in Billy’s jade-green eyes.

“He was everything I wanted, but couldn’t have. What was the use in dreaming when I was already bought and paid for, the property of another man?”

Billy’s life is a daily round of fear and abuse. One wrong word or one wrong look can mean a beating, or worse. Dashiell’s everything Billy’s heart craves – a man who’ll love and protect him, who’ll keep him safe and catch him when he falls. But Billy can’t have what he yearns for, because to give in to his heart means breaking a promise he’s vowed to keep at all costs.

A soul-searing kiss, a whispered promise, and the chance of a future together is there for the taking. But life is never that simple and danger surrounds them at every turn. Imprisoned by devotion, duty and obligation, Billy’s heart is captive, but can falling for Dashiell finally set it free?


Buy Links - Available on KU


“It really does look better.” Dashiell smiled and touched the bruise with gentle fingers, and this time I didn’t flinch.

“You need to eat, and then get some more sleep because you look worn out,” he said as he pulled open one of the cupboards.

“No, I don’t want—”

“You need to eat. Just a bit of soup, that’s all I’m asking.”

He wasn’t pushing, and he’d done so much for me it felt kind of wrong to say no, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a little something.

A couple of minutes later a bowl was placed in front of me, at the table. I didn't have the strength to argue about not wanting it, he was trying to look after me, and all I had to do was let him.

“No arguments.” He had a mock stern don't-mess-with-me look on his face.

“As if I would.” I spooned up some of the soup, and though I had no idea how much of it I'd be able to eat I was determined to try, but my hand was shaking and most of it dribbled back into the bowl.

Without saying anything, Dashiell took the spoon from me, dipped it into the soup and held it to my lips. I was twenty-three, and being fed like a baby but I didn’t care or put up any resistance. What should have been awkward and embarrassing wasn’t. How could it have been, not when he’d already seen the shameful way Frankie treated me, and had dealt with the results? After that, being fed from his hand faded into nothing.

I nibbled at the soupy bread he tempted me with but it wasn’t long before I was shaking my head. I didn’t have much, but I felt better for it though I knew the real reason for that was having Dashiell next to me. I sighed and sagged back into my seat. Dashiell scraped his chair closer, and snaked an arm around my shoulders and without even thinking I settled into him and closed my eyes as he swept his fingers through my hair. The house was quiet. There was no Frankie barking orders and no zombies jumping to them. With the rhythmic back and forth of Dashiell's fingers, there was only that moment. What should have happened next was that he kissed me, but he didn't, and I was kind of glad of that. I'd have kissed him back, no question, but that wasn't what I needed. It was his warmth, and strength, and just knowing he was there.

“Come on,” he said, helping me up. “The best thing for you is sleep.”

I nodded, too tired for words, as I let him lead me out of the kitchen and upstairs.

3.5 Stars 

A little rushed at the end, and some things were a little obvious and glossed over, but the author's love of things British shines through.

I read this book without having seen the blurb, which sometimes throws me, but this tale was easy to get into. It's plausible enough, as I think there is a seedy side to late night London that most don't tend to see, and it worked.

However, it was pretty obvious from the start that there was more afoot with one character, who I suspect will end up being the lead of the next tale in the series - he actually seemed larger than the leads, and interested me more. And, whilst we got told about the baddie in the tale being bad, we didn't really get shown any evidence of such via any dealings, only via what he doled out to the younger lead, Billy. Nothing much seemed to be going down, and so Frankie wasn't a scary enough presence for me, though yes, his actions and his threats did have the effect he wanted on his victim.

The Billy/victim type character is someone the author has pretty much perfected in her other tales, and yes, I could believe that he'd be in the situation he found himself in, without a way out, at least for the time being. The situation itself, though the whole reason for his dilemma, was only a fleeting part of the tale, and in the end, it became a non-issue, just as things went down with Frankie.

I did feel that Frankie needed to be scarier and more visible, and that the co-lead, Dashiell, couldn't really be more than how he came across, due to the role he'd been thrust into, and at times, I did wonder if there wasn't an element of Stockholm Syndrome afoot in his and Billy's relationship. I think there was also some inconsistency with his reason for being drawn into Frankie and Billy's world, especially with some stuff that was mentioned later on and that was never clarified.

The ending was rushed and convenient, and at the same time, too un-rushed in some respects, which detracted from the suspense that should have been read and felt. The tale ended well, but I don't know that I believed in the guys' relationship and HEA, given that we heard about it and didn't see them living it, as the epilogue skipped a year into the future.

It's loosely connected to the Barista Boys series, but it's not necessary to read that to enjoy this book.

ARC courtesy of Bayou Book Junkie and the author, for my reading pleasure.

About the Author

If you’ve a yearning for stories about complex men who make bad choices and wrong decisions, I’m your woman. Readers tell me they want to shout at my men, and shake some sense into them, before giving them a hug and a good talking to. And yes, I’m responsible for more than one repair bill to an ereader or smartphone that’s been thrown against a wall! But who said the road to a HEA was an easy one? Not me, that’s for sure. I make my men suffer, I put them through the wringer, I cause them to trip up… but in the end they come through despite all my best, and worst, efforts. 

So where will you find me putting words on the page? In my favourite café, that’s where. A walk across the park, or an early swim, before I settle down with a steaming hot coffee, ready to make my characters’ lives hell. My stories are set largley in London, the city I was born and raised in, but I now live somewhere quiter and greener just outside. I’ve no kids, or pets, but I do have a husband and as long as I keep him fed and watered he leaves me alone so I can spend time making life difficult for the men in my head rather than the man in my life.  

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