“First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons“
I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.
Flesh And Bone: Bleed – Joel Abernathy
My purpose, carved deeper into my soul than their names carved in my flesh.
The man who took everything from me, my own personal devil in shifting flesh.
My pack. The high-born family of wolves I’ve sworn my life to protect, even if my dying breath is pledged to another.
My everything. Friend, confidant, enemy, lover. Most dangerous of all, he would become the reason I lived if I let him. He is the one thing I won’t allow Dominic to take from me. Love is not a luxury I can afford, but the sweetness of revenge has nothing on the taste of him…
I knew I would like this so much better than the first book!
If ever there was a time to use the expression “my heart was ripped to pieces“, this is it. Very apt cover there.
First, a fair warning. The MCs were tortured on and off-page, there is implied sexual abuse, transphobia, consensual knife-play, among others.
Also, very, very angsty and emotionally wrenching because circumstances were harsh and brutal but the person who was harshest to Mason was Mason himself.
Bleed picks up on the Ursache pack life 5 years after Exhale. Nicolae and Jack has established their family but Mason still felt like the perpetual outsider. He was constantly out of the loop and has yet to earn his father’s respect despite being his second after so many years. His relationship with his father was strained and antagonistic because Nicolae couldn’t spare him the affection he showed his other children. Here again, the Ursache Alpha made himself unlikable until the last part where they had the talk.
Like most Ursache, Mason is arrogant, authoritative and excelled at many things. And just like his father, at first, second and third glances, he’s a hard to man to like. Witness book one, where even the usually nice Jack called him The Prick (in fairness to Jack that was before he knew his stepson). Though nobody could deny he would do anything for his pack. What nobody knows is that he is secretly in love with his bestfriend Vasil. Secret because mating between two male alphas is frowned upon by the very traditional wolf society. What they also don’t know (and what I sensed from the get go because with a dad like Nicolae) is that Mason needs a hug. Like yesterday.
Vasil is the Ursache pack enforcer waiting for his date with the devil. It was 15 years ago, when he was a young soldier in a pack war and was caught and tortured by a mysterious sadistic psycho named Dominic, who killed his entire family. He was rescued by Nicolae and since then, he’s biding his time when he could finally have his revenge.
Unlike Mason, Vasil is well-liked by all. He is a genial fellow, a very tough soldier, a skilled fighter and trusted bodyguard. He is a loyal friend, confidant, rival and Mason’s second in the pack. The two men have been friends since childhood.
Vasil never entirely got over the nightmare and felt like he would never be whole again. He has his dark secrets which were indeed fucked up given what he had gone through but that’s the way they are, him and Mason.
“Creepy and kind of fucked, but…sweet.”
I grinned. “Is there any other way to describe our relationship?”
Hugging them both. (つˆ⌣ˆ)つ⊂(・﹏ # ⊂) ⊂(・﹏・⊂)
Bleed is almost epic in its scale. It is a story of vengeance, betrayal, family, love, friendship, responsibilities and loyalty. It is a well-conceived, well-executed friends-to-lovers romance told in both Mason and Vasil’s POV where the internal dialogues were raw and pain was a tangible presence permeating everything. And that was before actual pain was inflicted.
Bad enough that their relationship was up in the air. Worse that Mason had to sacrifice his personal happiness to save his stepsister, Ellie, and the pack. The devil came calling for Vasil, who was all ready to kill or be killed because he had nothing to lose. That’s what he thought. He was dead wrong.
The story then proceeded to earn its horror tag. Not just with one but two monsters! And it went on for months! If I thought Jack had the raw end of the deal before, fate was just downright cruel this time.
The story didn’t end with the rescue. There was the aftermath to deal with. Battered bodies to patch up and a lifetime of scars bear.
But speaking of health concerns, how are they having sex in the shower when one is fresh out of surgery and no longer has the wolf healing ability?
That boggled me slightly but who cares. This has one of the hardest earned HEAs I’ve ever read and the boys can take whatever happiness they can get.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away