…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
Shaw is in Fiji to sell a stolen painting to the crime boss, Vornis. It will be the deal of a lifetime, if Shaw can pull it off. But then Vornis has to parade his latest toy around in front of him–a captured DEA agent whose time is running out. It’s none of Shaw’s business, and it doesn’t matter that under any other circumstances Lee would be exactly Shaw’s type: he’s young, he’s hot, and he might even have a personality if they hadn’t beaten it out of him. Too bad there’s no way Lee is getting off the island. Too bad there’s nothing Shaw can do for him. And too bad there are some lines that even Shaw won’t cross.
Keeping his hands off Lee proves harder than he thinks, but Shaw’s not stupid enough to fall for the tortured captive of a dangerous crime boss, is he? If he did, it wouldn’t be just his job he would be risking–it would be his life.
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices, violence, flashback to sexual violence. Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing
I boarded Vornis’ helicopter to The Island fully expecting to come back with a glowing review, but it wasn’t to be. The more books I read by Lisa Henry, the better I understand why many friends label Dark Space and, to a lesser extent, The Last Rebellion, as her best work. Dark Space was actually my first Henry and I loved the expressive Brady (a perfectly executed first-person narrative) and its sci-fi setting to pieces! And then there’s The last Rebellion, in which she pushes you into the meat grinder. When climbing back out, you may find that the experience is worth your missing limbs.
How The Island pales in comparison! In theory it sounds fantastic. But there’s only so many wrongs that can still make a right. Just as there’s only so much the sensual setting – a small Fiji island – can disguise when its inhabited by bland characters and the backdrop for a plot that’s boring and unevenly paced at best and nonsense at worst. My review in one sentence: a rather curious blend of endless harshness and a fairy tale romance; these extremes having in common that they both fail to convince.
Were the characters anything like in my favorite Henry books, they might have been able to save the barren plot. But they were unmemorable, making me an oddly inactive participant in their precarious situation. MC Shaw, whose name was so over-used in the beginning that I had to convince myself that I was indeed reading a Henry, remained stuck in his shallow loop of going back and forth between trying to not give a fuck about the captured and tortured young man, Lee, and wondering if he should rescue him like the abused dog he once gave a second chance. His conscious working overtime, he was so obviously out of his element in the company of sadists and ruthless businessmen; I couldn’t buy into his position as a trusted comrade to his scary associates at all. And were this book not some romantic fantasy, neither would men of this caliber have. The Big Reveal, which you may or may not see coming from miles away, only took away a little of my scepticism concerning the credibility of his ‘poker face’: I still viewed him as a guppy in a sea of sharks.
And then there’s victim Lee, whose character went through hell for a big part of the book. Something that should have made me all teary-eyed, taking the disclosure of tear-jerky little tidbits about him into account. But apart from feeling vaguely grossed out by the references to his non consensual off-page activities, I found myself mostly uncaring. And why should I have cared? When stripping away the cruelty, there was little more to him than a few sentimental memories and a profession that didn’t seem fitting.
Plot-wise, well, perhaps Henry has spoiled me with her other works, because I’ve had better… For a long while, everything kind of flowed on gently or moved at a glacial pace (depending on how you look at it), allowing for endless introspection and off-page torture. Allowing, too, for the style-trick of throwing in repetitive words and lines in italics at short intervals to add urgency and drama to the story; a ‘neat trick’ that, IMO, should be applied sparingly, if at all. Then, a sudden lazy ‘wtf plot twist’ and, unfortunately, a rather bizarre spin to the romantic story-line, that ridiculed all the gross abuse that the traumatized Lee had experienced up until that point. I realize that it must be totally difficult to combine a non-con storyline with a sweetly romantic one. I do! But even wading through the redundant final chapters – seemingly intended to convince me of the plausibility of the romance – couldn’t entirely chase away the sour taste the ‘Lee twist’ had left in my mouth.
Sooo, feckity-feck! I like to say that Henry is one of the better M/M authors out there. And I know that many others enjoyed this book more, so perhaps this is a case where my expectations were based on past experiences, and therefore too high. For Henry fans, The Island is of course a must-read. Though I’m sure I’m already last to THAT party. If you’re about to pick up your first Henry though, I’d suggest starting with the awesome ‘Dark Space’ or her short freebie ‘Falling Away’. Or, if you’re into that, the more disturbing ‘The Last Rebellion’ and ‘Tribute’.
Jenni – 3 stars
Shelley – 4 stars
Sara – 5 stars
Title: The Island
Author: Lisa Henry
Publisher: Loose id
Release Date: January 10th 2012
Purchase Links: All Romance ebooks