Title : Gathering Storm
Author : Lyn Gala
Publisher : Dreamspinner
Genre : M/M, BDSM
Length : 262 Pages (e-book)
Published : August 20, 2010
Rating : ★★★★1/2
Vinnie Bernardi wants to leave his past as a spoiled rich boy behind and find himself as a proud, gay submissive. He’s set his sights on two possible dominants: Charleston, a graying, sexy, straight-as-an-arrow physical trainer, and RJ, the straight-talking dyke who owns the bar where Vinnie dances. Neither is exactly ideal, but Vinnie is slowly falling apart and needs a top to help him hold it together. He chooses Charleston, but Vinnie’s presence in Charleston’s life stirs up some deadly ghosts from the man’s mysterious past. After years of trying to avoid the real world, Vinnie may find himself pulled back into it-but he might not survive long enough to get what he truly needs: love and a firm hand to shelter it.
Vinnie Bernardi is not in control of his own life. At all. Or rather, he is in control of his own life and that’s the problem. Vinnie would like his old school instructor, Charleston, to be in control. Unfortunately, there are a whole host of reasons that will never happen. Charleston is his old school instructor for one and he also knows Vinnie’s real name. Vinnie doesn’t want the new identity he’s carefully crafted for himself to escape his father’s control to be destroyed. And Vinnie is maybe sort of stalking Charleston. Just a little. And the guy is probably straight and not interested in kink anyway. So Vinnie continues to work as a dancer at a bar, upset his boss RJ, and continue to snoop on Charleston. Vinnie gets a brilliant idea to get some footage of Charleston for future reference. Even Vinnie is aware his obsession and stalking are a problem, and he’s aware his surveillance plan is a problem, but he cannot control himself. Of course he’s caught by Charleston immediately. Vinnie loves being under Charleston’s control after he’s caught, but Charleston doesn’t respond to any of Vinnie’s sexual advances. Vinnie is warned away and left high and dry. At work, Vinnie manages to behave himself well enough to get permission to dance on the stage again. He’s not been allowed up for a while due to his antics. When he sees Charleston in the audience he makes some bad choices but everything works out alright. He gets to talk to Charleston and that’s exactly what he wanted. As it turns out, Charleston’s phone had been tapped. Reasonably, Charleston suspected Vinnie may have been involved. Since Vinnie was actually not involved Charleston left him. Again! Vinnie had to go back into the bar and deal with his boss who was very much not amused by his antics. Despite being told his job was not in danger and he would be getting the attention he was clamoring for, Vinnie was sent home that night, alone, with his own thoughts for company. Of course he picked up a guy on the street. The guy looked pretty harmless even if he did have an odd penchant for poetry. It would be a fun one night stand, what could go wrong?
Waking up the next morning Vinnie begins to realize the guy, Thompson, isn’t the sweet lovable poet he originally appeared to be. Thompson also blurs the line between commanding and cruel. The Vinnie realizes it was never about him at all. It’s been about Charleston. Vinnie is only there because stuck with a crazy man because of his association with Charleston. After being hobbled and bound Thompson kidnaps Vinnie. When they arrive an an undisclosed location Charleston shows up. Vinnie didn’t want him to. Now they’re both held captive by a crazy man. Apparently, Thompson and Charleston’s relationship goes back quite far. Thompson was selling guns and torturing women. Charleston reported him to the authorities. Thompson wants revenge and the bomb strapped to Vinnie’s back is only a step in that direction. Vinnie and Charleston end up in a cell together. Charleston manages to remove the bomb from Vinnie’s back and they even get it defused. Vinnie does find out Charleston is not at all the man he thought he was. Charleston is an assumed name and he’s been in hiding pending investigations into the weapons smuggling Thompson perpetrated. Authorities are looking to close down the whole smuggling ring. Vinnie also finds out Charleston is exactly the man he always thought he was. Charleston was a very strict dom who got his subs to do anything for them simply because they wanted to please him. This has Vinnie thrilled. After what Vinnie thought would be a rescue turns out to be a double cross, Vinnie and Charleston are finally rescued and sent to a safe house. Vinnie is having a lot of problems accepting his own bad choices.
Thompson is still at large and Charleston begins to assume control of Vinnie, but not in the ways Vinnie thinks he wants. Charleston and Vinnie to their best to lure Thompson into an attack on Charleston. Thompson also wants Vinnie for himself. He’s already planned the torture. What they didn’t expect was for Thompson to take such extreme action in his attempt to get them. Amidst a hospital fire and evacuation, Vinnie finds himself in a life or death situation and has to act accordingly. When all is said and done he finds life goes on. The daily grind is still grinding and Vinnie has to make some decisions about how honest he’s going to be with himself and with Charleston.
I love Lyn Gala’s characters. They’re so flawed. Their flaws give valid and real reasons to keep the nascent relationship from forming. They have to grow and forgive each other their flaws or learn to accept them. Charleston’s past could not simply be overlooked. Vinnie fell in lust with a facet of the man and learned via hobbling that Charleston was actually Jeff Kalb. And Vinnie was certainly flawed himself. He was so busy hiding from everyone and everything including himself. Maybe especially himself. This did serve to make Vinnie a very unreliable narrator. Vinnie’s unreliability may account for why this book doesn’t read like a romance in any way. Regardless of why it reads that way, it works beautifully, as did the lack of any real sex until the end. Vinnie had to become self aware enough to handle real submission. Vinnie had to experience real self reliance and self control before he was able to realistically turn that over to Charleston.
This book is not a new release, I chose to review it as a sort of a “sure thing” after a string of really unspectacular review books. This leaves me in a bit of a quandary as how to rate it. This book was amazing, but I could see shades of where Lyn Gala would be in the future. As opposed to the seamless and realistic bad guys that are now in her books, Thompson was over the top as the serial killing slaver and black market weapons smuggler. Had I read this book before anything else by Lyn Gala it would have been five star. Now, I was stuck never having the moment when I suddenly understood I was reading something amazing, and the flowers were blooming, and the choir of angels was singing, and it was perfect. So, despite having all the boxes ticked and acknowledging the brilliance of the book I’m going with four and a half stars and consoling myself with the fact a review is an opinion formed at a specific time and place and nothing happens in a vacuum.
Rated 4.5 stars by Faye