Friday, May 12, 2017

Blog Tour Review: Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter

Every Breath You Take
by Robert Winter
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.

But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

This is a solid romantic suspense that is light on romance and heavier on suspense. It does provide me with a good creep factor that had me slightly freak out by the mysterious stalker, especially with the villain's POV.

Zach is new in DC and for the first time wanted to enjoy his freedom as a gay man away from his conservative family. What better way to start off other than to visit the local gay bar and meeting the bar regular hottie who is infamous for his no-repeats-hook-up.

Thomas is the usual manwhore, but he had been burned badly by a stalker. Now he is still a manwhore, but he had his rules, no repeats, no attachment. I can understand his reasoning and the past incident seems to scarred him for life, but I would actually recommend him to go celibate if he were so damn worried about getting another stalker. I don't see how constant one night stand can help with his situation. 

After their one night, Zach was disappointed that Thomas doesn't reciprocate his feelings and Thomas is feeling all torn up about his inability to have a relationship with someone he like. They remains as sort of 'friends' without benefits, but the heated looks they gave each other really doesn't help.

When one of Thomas's ex-one-night-stand turned up dead, Thomas once again fearing he got himself another stalker. But does lightning really does strike twice on him?

Actually throughout the story, I feel that Zach and Thomas doesn't really have a lot of opportunity to develop their feelings further. I can feel their dilemma and attraction towards each other, but due to a big portion of the story is dedicate into our stalker issue, it was not being explore further. Anyway, it didn't really affect my enjoyment of the story because I'm really hooked with the suspense. I felt the nervousness, the excitement, the scariness and the anticipation of the villain every move. 

Overall, I find that is a good romantic suspense with enough heat and great suspense plot to engage me throughout the read. The epilogue is pretty neat too.

Across the street the man with the silver-framed glasses stood back in the shadows and stared at the front window of the garden apartment. He could see the back of his quarry’s head as he watched a small flat-screen TV.
Time passed.
Eventually the head nodded forward and then jerked up. When it happened a second time, the creature turned off the TV and then the lamp and headed to bed.
The man waited for another half hour with his back pressed against an alcove formed where two brownstones met. The street was quiet. Almost no one walked by, and the lone person who came down the street failed to notice him in the shadows.
The man felt his breath grow hoarse, and blood rushed in his ears as his heart began to pound. He cultivated that sensation as he reached into his coat pocket for the screwdriver that rested there and made himself imagine the creature’s hands touching the Beloved’s face. Stroking his body. He curled his fingers around the screwdriver and then clenched and unclenched rhythmically. Its thick handle felt rough against his palm because of the grooves and sharp edges he had chiseled into it. He had ideas for other implements that would serve his purpose, but for now, this would do just fine. This would make his point.
His throat was dry, and his eyes burned from focusing on the darkened window, but he felt invincible. The tension in his body climbed exquisitely, and when he could take no more, he slipped across the street and stepped down to the locked gate. It opened easily with his small set of picks. The gate made no noise when the creature went through it earlier, so he was confident and quick and didn’t bother to lock it behind him. Child’s play, he thought as he worked the lock on the apartment door.
The tumblers clicked into place.
He stored his lockpicks, slipped inside the darkened apartment, and then closed the door behind him as silently as he could. Streetlight came through the slatted blinds the boy had failed to close completely. He waited quietly until he heard a faint snore from the back and then removed his glasses and tucked them in an inside pocket of his jacket. The scarf his quarry had been wearing caught his eye, and the man bared his teeth as he lifted it off the coat tree and tugged it tightly between his hands. It was well made. It would hold. He smiled.
He slid through the gloom toward the room where the creature lay sleeping. He was hard, and the blood in his erection pulsed in time to the pounding of his heart. That boy had dared to touch his Beloved. He had probably even been fucked by him. But that wasn’t enough—oh no. He came back for more.
It had taken the man so long to find his Beloved and interpret his subtle clues. He finally understood what was required of him. The undeserving gnat must be chastised, and he would be the Beloved’s angel of retribution. He was conscious of the weight of the screwdriver in his pocket, the scratch of the wool scarf in his hands, and the power in his arms.
He reached for the boy on the bed.

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.
Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

The Mystery of Randy Vaughan

Randy Vaughan is a major supporting character in Every Breath You Take. A former Secret Service agent, he took early retirement and now runs a piano bar in Washington, DC, called Mata Hari. Here is how Randy is described when Zachary Hall enters Mata Hari for the first time:

Zachary took a deep breath and walked up to the bar, where he waited near the hinged opening in the wooden countertop for the muscular bald bartender to notice him.
Damn. That guy is hot. The man was probably late forties or early fifties and stood well over six feet tall. He had a face made up of hard planes and a nose that appeared to have been broken at least once. A bit of dark scruff framed his strong jaw. His broad chest stretched a fitted white shirt, which was tucked into trim black pants that curved over a meaty rump.
Woof. Serious muscle daddy. Straight off one of the websites Fred [Zachary’s friend] follows.

When I conceived the character, I knew I wanted him to be big and burly, slightly intimidating but ultimately a fierce and loyal friend. For inspiration, I pictured him very much along the lines of adult film star Jesse Jackman. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching one of his movies, this is a picture of Mr. Jackman from his website (used with his permission).

I based the bar that Randy owns on the kind of place I would like to visit myself. The location I chose is of a now-defunct gay bar in Washington called Omega DC, which was in an alley near the intersection of 22nd and P Streets in Northwest Washington. The interior of Mata Hari was inspired by The Townhouse in New York, a bar that is still open today. The Townhouse is decorated to feel as if you were in someone’s home for a cocktail party, and often patrons gather around the piano to sing along with a variety of talented pianists.

As I was revising Every Breath You Take, I realized I had created several mysteries about Randy. Why did he retire early from the Secret Service? Is there a reason he called his bar Mata Hari? What impact did the death of his uncle Kevin have on the trajectory of Randy’s life? By the time I was finished with Every Breath You Take, I was so intrigued by those questions that I wrote my current work in progress all about Randy. The new story involves an art historian from England with secrets, a homeless teenage boy, and a mystery about a painting. Here is a snippet from the beginning of the WIP:

“Guys, time to take it elsewhere.”
The two men pawing at each other in the corner of Randy’s bar jolted apart, and Randy snorted at their wide eyes and swollen lips. He turned away to pick up a few stray glasses and napkins from a nearby table, allowing them some privacy to adjust clothing and tuck away obvious erections. When he turned around again, the younger of the two would-be lovebirds ran hands through his hair as he scanned up Randy’s six foot three linebacker frame. His red-faced partner, or partner-of-the-moment, caught Randy’s eye and muttered, “Sorry. Didn’t realize it was so late.”
The younger one whispered something in his date’s ear, but before they could invite him into a threesome, Randy said pointedly, “Malcolm will let you out the front.” The men hurried away then, hand in hand. Well, at least someone was getting laid tonight, even if Randy wanted no part in it. He hoped they didn’t try to get it on in the alley or the parking lot though. There was little worse than a bare ass mooning him through a windshield at two in the morning.
He finished gathering glasses, then wiped down the tables. The night had been slow so there wasn’t much that needed to be done, plus the cleaning crew would wash up and run a vacuum in the morning, but he never left the place messy. His bar Mata Hari meant a lot to him. It had been open less than a year, but he’d built up a good base of loyal regulars already. They in turn talked the bar up, and as a result on weekends Mata Hari was usually packed. Tuesdays and Wednesdays though... not so much.
Randy walked through the main room of the bar, past deep couches and inviting club chairs grouped around cocktail tables of dark wood. He’d chosen the decor to create the feeling in his patrons that they were guests at a cocktail party rather than a bar. He scanned his art collection on the walls and stopped to adjust one frame that had been knocked askew during the evening. The painting was a small pastel he’d bought in Kyoto, one that featured cherry trees lining a small stream; a single blossom had detached and drifted down toward the water. The elegance of the lines and the delicate shading of pinks and blues pleased his sense of composition. Once again, he admired the artist’s restraint and economy of color. A small tap on the frame’s edge squared the painting again.

I hope that you’ll enjoy reading about Randy as much as I did writing him. You can find out more about my books, and keep an eye out for Randy’s story, on my website.