Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Compulsion by Clare London

Title: Compulsion
Author: Clare London
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 250 pages

The past always catches up with you. Max Newman should know—he’s been running from his ever since he dropped out of Uni and made a disastrous move to the seedier side of London. Now he’s returned to Brighton to lick his wounds. Though Max believes the club scene is better left behind him, one night he lets his friends drag him out dancing. And suddenly the simple life he’s tried to lead gets complicated.

At Compulsion, the Medina Group’s newest hotspot, Max meets Seve Nunez, a member of the Medina management and a man used to taking what he wants. The sexual chemistry between Max and Seve immediately leads to an intimate encounter in the backyard of the club—just the kind of dangerous behavior Max tried to leave behind. Despite that, he can't help but crave more, and Seve seems just as eager.

But Max soon suspects that Seve may not be the scrupulous businessman he claims. Max has seen the Medina Group at work before, and what he saw got a good friend killed. He's not sure what future he has with Seve, but he'll have to decide whether to trust in Seve’s innocence or keep running. The wrong choice could land them both in mortal danger.


If ever two men can’t keep their hands off each other, it’s Max and Seve. From their first meeting in the nightclub where Max had to be dragged in, to the climactic scene where everything changes, these guys are all about the sex. They’ve got chemistry, but do they have a future?

They're not so much about the talking, though, which makes it easier to believe that their relationship is only physical, and when Max, our sole POV character, starts to wonder if he has more complicated feelings for Seve, he rightly considers that his mind has been clouded by the edgy sex. For a long time, it seems to be that heady feeling of sex spiced with the thrill of being caught or the bliss of surrender. These two men might well be a drug for each other—the compulsion to be together runs both ways.

Max’s backstory comes out in little intervals between the sex scenes (the book is heavily front loaded with some hawt stuff), making Seve (short for Severino, it’s not a typo) one of the worst possible choices of partner. Maybe. It’s that maybe that keeps Max from running. The baggage Max bought back from London doesn’t make him such a great choice for Seve either, but Mac’s growth in understanding his role in his previously sordid choices let us hope that maybe this will all work out. His is a story of redemption, and one thing that made me like him better toward the end was that he knew the cost of his redemption might include Seve, and he was ready to pay it. His need for redemption was that great, and his reasons are doled out through the story, not plopped on the reader.

Max has a wonderful set of friends running through the story who care deeply for him, little though he feels he deserves it, and each of them is a small bright presence throughout the book. I was especially fond of Louis.

The back half of the book explodes with action, where the front was heavy on the sex, and sex actually plays a huge role in the action, though in a very different way. Unfortunately, the big relationship talk happened in this section, so while Max and Seve were hashing out some important issues, I was mentally screaming Not now! Take care of the problem in the kitchen first!

The emphasis is heavily on the men and their evolving relationship, told in Clare London’s trademark gritty prose, which reads very viscerally. The external plot wraps in one swift chapter with some really handwavy elements, which may not stand out for other readers as much as it does for me. Seve and Max have something more than sexual attraction, and although they and the readers have to go through a lot to get there, it’s a great place to end up. 4 marbles

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