Guns n’ Boys: Bloodbath, by K.A. Merikan
Series: Guns n’ Boys, Book 6
Publisher: Acerbi & Villani LTD
Release Date: March 4, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
“All you need to know is that you’re mine.”
Seth would follow Domenico to the depths of hell. He promised to always be at Domenico’s side. But hell becomes all too real when they infiltrate the world of Toro – a notoriously security-obsessed arms dealer, who has eyes and ears everywhere.
Seth becomes unable to steal even a moment of intimacy with Domenico, and the tension grinds them down each day. Beyond the deceptive paradise of Toro’s villa, violence is an everyday occurrence, and the swimming pool could just as well be filled with blood. To survive, Seth has to become the man Domenico needs him to be, but in the process, he might lose who he truly is.
With Seth trained up, and Mark as backup, victory is so close Domenico can taste it. They just need to prove themselves to Toro as valuable assets. With each day though, Seth seems to be drifting away from Domenico, hidden behind a mask of cruelty and indifference. It is exactly what Domenico asked of him, so why is it so difficult to see Seth become his mirror image?
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you.
‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence,
offensive language, abuse, inappropriate dark humor, and
morally ambiguous protagonists.
Bloodbath certainly is an appropriate title. These morally ambiguous characters are definitely not for everyone so take heed to the warning. There’s a lot of good in these guys and their love for each other is incredibly intense but there’s also a lot of not-so-good in them. For example, Domenico won’t hesitate to take you out if you get in his way or threaten to take away what belongs to him. I mention this for the people who’ve not read any of the series and are considering giving it a shot. If you are new to GNB I wouldn’t recommend starting here with book 6. I feel they’re meant to be read in order or you’ll be left guessing what’s going on in certain situations. Plus, it’s a fantastic series so why not start from the beginning?
I’ve always appreciated the flaws in these characters even if I want to strangle Dom on the regular. He’s extremely problematic but I usually go into each book feeling that the authors write characters like Dom only to show that realistically there are people like him in the world. Not because his beliefs have anything to do with their own. I like that they’re showing him growing and learning as the series goes on and they also write Seth as a very good counterbalance to him. Overall there’s been enormous character growth thus far but I think this book is the most I’ve seen yet.
Something that I noticed from the very beginning is that the writing is really vivid. So many incredible details about their surroundings, the other characters and most importantly, the thoughts going through their minds. I really feel like I’m getting to know everything there is to know about these people.
And sometimes that backfires…
Right out of the gate Dom was pissing me off with his misogynistic pro-life rant. It never fails. In every book he says at least one thing that enrages me or makes me uncomfortable. I do realize that Dom’s a product of the environment he was raised in and I think it’s going to take a long time for him to break his terrible way of thinking. In the past I’ve sided with Seth’s resistance to living a heteronormative life but could see why Domenico wanted it. I had hoped that they would find some middle ground but it seems that they’re falling right into those roles again. And yet, having said all that, I do love that they have a little family unit now with the addition of young Mark. Probably because even though they’re gangsters, they resemble the dysfunctional families we all have in some way or another.
Ever since the very beginning we’ve seen Dom and Seth both struggling internally with guilt. Seth is afraid he’s not living up to Dom’s expectations, and Dom is afraid that putting Seth through these situations will forever change the man he fell in love with. We’ve been reading this for so long and it’s repeated so much in this book that I had to knock a star off for it. I had already heard it enough so the repetition really started to bother me when these sentiments continued. Turns out I think they’re finally starting to understand, respect and be honest about who they really are so hopefully, HOPEFULLY we’re done reading about this. It was a relief to see them admit their fears to one another and I felt like this only made their bond that much stronger. Which is almost comical because you could get whiplash from their mood swings. They love each other, they’re pissed at each other. Their proud of each other, and then disappointed. It sounds super angsty but it really isn’t. They’re just so passionate that when stress levels run high they go from 0 to 100 in a millisecond. Keeping their relationship a secret to avoid trouble from homophobic jerks doesn’t help either.
“In other words, every moment they spent together was like licking the outside of a Snickers bar wrapper when all he wanted was to shove the whole thing into his mouth.”
This couple is tearing each other’s clothes off any chance they can get so I can see how staying separated for the sake of a mission would take its toll. Come to think of it, not only do the Merikan’s always find creative ways to get these guys out of trouble, they also do a good job of keeping Dom and Seth from jumping each other’s bones every five minutes. I definitely like sex in my romance books but I don’t need a ton of it and I think the heat-to-story ratio is done well.
Something else I’ve been enjoying is how they’ve been incorporating new characters into the series. Some with only a temporary purpose, others on a more permanent basis. I adore Mark even if he makes me want to throw my e-reader at times because he’s such a typical teenager! I’m also concerned because encouraging him to be a killer isn’t exactly the best future for a 17-year-old kid. I just wish that Dom and Seth would make him wait until he’s older to decide if he wants that life. I guess it makes sense, though, since Dom started really young. It’s all he knows. I’m also hoping that we see more of Nero, the smart mouthed troublemaker, and definitely more of quiet Miguel. Perhaps something will happen between these two? I would not have a problem with that AT ALL.
In summary, I was happy to see some of the ongoing conflict get resolved, I felt that sometimes the way they get themselves out of trouble is a little too convenient, and I fell in love with these characters all over again. I thought Bloodbath was another smashing success and I can’t wait to read what happens next. There’s a bonus scene after the end of the book introducing another new character named Diego and I am more than a little freaked out by how determined he sounds to get what he’s after. I’m still going to read it though, of that I have no doubt.
“He doesn’t know us yet, but he will once I’m done with him,” Domenico said in a voice so chilling Seth felt odd about having wanted his hands all over in the morning, just hours before. Then again, even now, Domenico’s cool demeanor wasn’t a deterrent. If this side of Dom were something Seth truly despised, he’d have taken any opportunity to leave Dom many times over. Which of course he didn’t because he was a dumb, fat moth to Domenico’s flame, and he’d stick around no matter how many times he got burned.
The prisoner spat out some bloodied saliva and grinned, shaking his head. “Who are you even working for?”
Domenico let out a cloud of smoke, which swirled in the dim space. “We’re working for ourselves, and we’ve had an excellent track record so far.”
The man laughed, shaking his head wildly. “You’re in way above your head! What do you think is in that box, huh? A golden machine gun? Diamonds? You will regret ever stepping foot on our boat.”
Anger boiled over in Seth, and he planted his foot in the man’s stomach. Bile rose in his throat when he thought that the bloodshed and the risk they’d taken to hijack the vessel could have been for nothing.
Dom shifted on top of the trunk. “What is in the trunk?” he asked, almost softly, and nodded at Seth. A signal to keep going. To torture. First beat up, and then what? Cut off the guy’s fingers?
The man curled up as much as he could with his hands tied to the chair, and Seth hesitated, only to get a nasty surprise kick to the shin when their prisoner decided attack was the best way of protecting himself.
“You motherfucker!” This time, Seth had no mercy. He kicked the bastard’s stomach so hard the chair twisted, and he fell over, trapping one of his wrists between the chair and the floor. The choked scream did not soften Seth’s resolve that he was doing the right thing now. This was a man working for a cartel, caught on his way to deliver some goods to Raul Moreno. Why would he be worthy of Seth’s pity anyway?
Domenico leaned forward, watching the man’s face twist in discomfort. “What’s in the trunk?”
The mercenary gave a breathless laugh. “Something as common as mosquitoes,” he uttered, and it must have piqued Dom’s interest, because he stood up and approached.
“What then? Cocaine?”
The man grinned at them with his reddish teeth. “More than that.”
Seth stood back at the other side of the tiny cabin and crossed his arms on his chest. This was one guessing game he wasn’t about to play with the bastard.
Domenico sighed and slowly lowered himself. The burning end of the cigarette in his hand was bright red when it pressed against the mercenary’s cheek. The fucker gave a choked noise, clenching his teeth so hard Seth could practically hear them crack.
“You sure you don’t want to tell me? You’re dead anyway, so what is it to you?” asked Domenico.
“Well, it’s not explosives, so why don’t you just check yourself?” the man hissed after taking a few raspy breaths. Watching it made Seth so tense his muscles felt like made out of concrete.
Domenico sighed and looked back at the trunk.
“It’s sealed,” Miguel said from his spot at the door.
“I know,” Dom muttered, still gazing at the piece of luggage that might as well hold a medium-sized fridge.
The prisoner laughed. “Go on. Or are you scared of Raul Moreno?”
Seth rolled his eyes. “Pathetic attempt at reverse psychology there.”
The guy looked back at him with a frown, and Seth could bet he had no idea what that meant.
Domenico stayed silent, then pulled out a knife and presented it to Seth, handle first. “Open the trunk.”
Seth took the knife and approached the leather-bound box, but he licked his lips and watched the seal, giving himself a few more seconds. He wasn’t exactly afraid of it being explosives, since he doubted their prisoner would encourage them this way, but on the other hand, maybe that was exactly what it was, since the man had to understand by now that he would die soon anyway.
But Domenico knew his job like no other man, and he must have thought of that possibility. If he insisted Seth open the trunk, it had to be fine, even if the contents turned out to be disappointing, like a batch of Raul Moreno’s favorite popcorn.
Seth still decided to ask. “Are you sure? What if it’s a caiman?
“Just be careful. Nice and slow,” said Dom, moving his hand to their prisoner’s neck when Seth kneeled in front of the trunk.
The paper seal marked by some symbols and letters beckoned Seth’s attention, and it almost felt like he was about to slice into flesh. How would they explain the open seal upon arrival? Would they even need to? Maybe it was just a formality no one paid attention to anymore? His stomach clenched as he cut through the paper. The cracked and dusty leather suggested it wasn’t the first time the trunk had been used, and its size held no answers as to what secret it could hold.
Slowly, he opened several metal latches, and then three leather straps that further secured the lid in place. The silence inside the cabin was absolute, and he even heard the rubbing of leather against leather. His last thought before he raised the top of the trunk, which felt oddly heavy and sturdy, as if there was metal under the thick layer of leather, was that it had to be a very specialized container if it had been so clearly used for a long time.
K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.
They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.
Inspiration never failed them so far, but they are ready to hunt down the exotic and unique. Kat and Agnes are pursuing their dream of becoming full fledged virtual nomads. Having gotten rid of their apartment and with most of their belongings put in storage, they are choosing their own path in life, ready to experience all the world has to offer while working on their books.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.