Ben’s “Gay” Book Breakdown | “No Surrender” is filled with multi-layered paranormal goodness!
When I first discovered the book Restless Nights as part of the “Badlands” series, nothing could have prepared me for the world I was about to enter. In fact, my journey was no less fantastic than that of homicide detective Vic D’Amato, who was forced to leave his former beat with the Pittsburgh Police after a supernatural encounter he could not explain. Instead, he relocated to Myrtle Beach, where he met psychic and medium Simon Kincaide, and they worked together trying to stop the Strand Slitter serial killer. They fell in love, and Vic’s world was never the same. Mine was never the same either as I was introduced into this glorious world of magic in its different forms with witches, vampires, necromancers, people with various psychic gifts, and ghosts in all of their forms, including a beloved dog. The world of Gail Z. Martin, or Morgan Brice, when writing stories with LGBTQ characters, has been one of the most thrilling and enjoyable I have ever encountered. I was delighted to see a new book from Brice featuring the first male gay couple I had read about had just been published.
The Slitter Trial is rapidly approaching, and it’s causing some stress for Vic and especially for Simon, who William Fischer, infamously known as the Strand Slitter, almost killed. As the trial date rapidly approaches, Vic is approached by a reporter asking about a series of disappearances back in the ’80s. As Vic agrees to look at those cold cases, a second mystery appears as several people closely connected to the Slitter Trial receive gifts that appear to be of personal significance to the recipient. Each gift brings devastating results when touched by the intended victim. Vic and Simon are now concerned that the Slitter Trial might be postponed. Even worse, they fear it will be declared a mistrial. Can Simon and Vic uncover who is sending these cursed items, do they have a connection to the disappearances from the ’80s, and can they solve all of this before the Slitter Trial is scheduled to take place?
Brice’s gift of storytelling, world-building, and character development are some of the best. It helps that she lives in North Carolina and is quite familiar with the settings where all of her stories take place. Her familiarity is very much on display as she perfectly describes the beautiful locations her characters visit. Some authors might venture into the area of info dump, but not Brice. She gives just enough information to allow the reader to visualize the scene, but never at the expense of what the character is experiencing or the action in the story. The result is a constant page-turner where after completing one chapter, all you’ll want to do is immediately start reading the next. Brice is also highly skilled in pacing the action. Pacing is where many authors fail by either dragging a scene out too long or compacting it too tightly to where the reader might feel that all they’re reading is a series of vignettes. Not with Brice. She has practically perfected the art of drawing out the action and the tension of a scene to where the reader is almost left breathless. Brice then brings about some form of resolution to that dramatic moment, only to start ramping up the excitement as our characters are about to face their next challenge. It always makes for the perfect thrill ride.
One other aspect of No Surrender is how this story is multi-layered. Brice calls back to Restless Nights by bringing up the upcoming Slitter Trial and then adds what appears to be these separate storylines with the cursed objects and the missing people from the ’80s. I did have some questions bouncing around in my brain as I tried to understand how these were all connected, but I also have great faith in Brice’s writing. I have lost count of the number of her books I have read, and I have never been disappointed. She has deftly told her stories with astonishing detail and skill that I feel I’m reading an account that she has personally witnessed. For that reason alone, I soldiered on with complete faith that I would not be disappointed in how she would wrap it all up with these three storylines, and I can assure you that she succeeded. No Surrender was both thrilling and heartwarming to read. Reading about Vic’s and Simon’s upcoming wedding warmed my heart, and the moments of ghostly horror raced my heart! It had all of the excitement of an amusement park ride and all of the warmth of delicious comfort food. With that, I only have one very tiny issue, and that is regarding the actual Slitter Trial itself. I would have enjoyed seeing more detail of the trial, especially since Simon might have been called to testify (given that Fischer shot him) and how it might affect his PTSD. Still, it did not take away from my enjoyment of this book. It was a joy to read, and anyone who is a fan of paranormal stories, especially those with a solid LGBTQ element, will unquestionably love it.
I must add that this book contains some extremely steamy same-sex love scenes and should only be read by those who are 18 and over.
I give No Surrender 4.5 out of 5 Springsteen Tickets!!!