Title: Buried Secrets
Series: Buried Secrets #1
Publication Date: January 13, 2019
Length: 290 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Alek Belanov never forgot the way his family was brutally when he was a child, nor did he forgot his promise to find those who are responsible for their crime. Although his Russian mobster uncle raised him as his own and he believed in the man at the time…now? He is no longer believes in the man’s explanation. It was time he sought his own answers.
After Alek spent two years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, his uncle sends him away to the Gay Protection Society.
Rafe’s group of ten encounters security breaches and threats requiring them to move frequently. If a gay client breaks security rules, their protector disciplines them.
Secrets and deceptions try to destroy Rafe and Alek’s relationship.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book contains mild BDSM elements including restraints, blindfolds, and spanking. While Buried Secrets is a stand-alone with no cliffhanger, the story will continue with Emilio and Kaden.
Losing the boy he loved, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and used mercilessly while in prison, Alex Belanov returns home only to find out the uncle who has cared for him since his family was brutally murdered many years before has decided to enter him into a gay protection service that appears to be little more than a new form of sexual saver. In the most of humiliating ways, Alec is dropped off at the pace where one man will step up to be his protector—a man he will be expected to sexually satisfy while in his care. Nothing makes sense to the young man—why does his uncle think the family of his dead lover mean to kill him? Why does his cousin hate him? And most importantly how can he ever be enough for the man who has chosen to protect him?
Rafe Escobar runs a tight ship—he has to since most, if not all, of the men he has under his protection are in danger. Along with four other alpha males who he trusts and their charges, Rafe takes on Alek and sets out to bond with him. But Alex is angry, confused and prone to breaking rules—something that cannot happen or all their lives will be in peril. Still there is something about the younger man that Rafe finds compelling and hard to resist.
I sat on this review for a few days after reading the novel primarily because I wasn’t sure how to approach a book that did not resonate whatsoever with me. Author Brina Brady has begun a new series with the release of Buried Secrets and while there is a definite germ of a potentially fascinating story deep inside this first novel it’s a fairly rough start nonetheless. First the idea of a group of alpha males, most previously Doms, who opt to take on guys whose lives are in danger for one reason or another is most assuredly an interesting idea. Also I think there is going to be varying levels of BDSM in these novels since the more established couples who will eventually get their own books are bound to be into some kinkier stuff than Rafe and Alek are.
Given the way this novel began I completely understood the author making Rafe both confused, angry and a bit frightened about how his life was going to play out. Since he was essentially at the mercy of Rafe and his sex toy to play with, one can understand why Alek behaved as he did—sometimes pretty bratty, if I’m to be honest. I got why Alek often ran hot then cold—one minute wanting sex with Rafe and needing his closeness and other times fearing that if he didn’t measure up in the bedroom he might be cut loose by Rafe and sent back to the place to be chosen by another. Because Alek was kept in the dark about how Rafe was always going to be his protector regardless of how well they bonded, it was easy to buy into his behavior and fears.
Rafe, on the other hand, really just left me confused, irritated and disinterested in alternating degrees. I got that this guy had the safety of the group on his shoulders but he was like a Jekyll and Hyde emotionally. One moment he was sensitive to Alek’s worries and kind to him and the next he was telling him to spread his legs and be quick about it. Rafe was just too on edge —all the time. I also didn’t really understand how he came to be shielding his brother Mateo or exactly why that was needed when his brother seemed rather blasé about his own safety. Honestly this whole group just didn’t compute for me—perhaps it was because we met all five of them and their protectees and had multiple plot lines going concerning each of them so to set up future installments in the series. Whatever the reason it felt like a mishmash of story lines that never really went anywhere and didn’t exactly pique my curiosity to make me hanker for their individual stories. The dialogue was so stilted—there was little to no chemistry between these partners and the entire story felt forced. For instance, I really didn’t get why these guys had to provide unlimited sexual access to the men sworn to protect them in exchange for being kept safe. That honestly felt like dubious consent at best initially—I mean what right did the guys have to say no? They didn’t—particularly since they were stripped naked and tested out by anyone who cared to get a blowjob before they were claimed.
Speaking of the sexual content of the novel, I really didn’t care for how Rafe introduced Alek to the Dom/sub components by using their very first encounter to blindfold and bind Alek with belts and then administer an inordinately huge number of hits with the paddle—an excessive amount. What made it seem even more implausible was the fact that Alek was seemingly able to sit and move easily the next day with no pain? No, I had to draw the line there. I have read my fair share of good BDSM and this just crossed too many lines—it was just simply too unrealistic even for fiction.
I really could go on and on but fear I may have already given too much of the story away. Buried Secrets had real potential with what first appeared as a fresh story arc that could have been the start of a great series. Instead we got a disjointed story that introduced way too many characters and gave tidbits about each that served to frustrate more than titillate. I have mulled over this novel for several days and I have to admit that I honestly can’t rate this novel. Perhaps it’s just me—perhaps others will find this novel compelling and exciting. I, unfortunately, simply found the book to be tedious and too unrealistic.
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