Utopia X: Seeking Something Wicked by K.Z. Snow

 K. Z. Snow’s Utopia X: Seeking Something Wicked

Blurb:

Unsettled by the passionate romance between his comrade Win and their new employee Pablo, Tole hopes to quell his restless spirit by spending a night in the woodsy Interzone. He’s joined unexpectedly by a handsome vampire acquaintance, Ridley Barron, and the two men begin to succumb to a longstanding attraction. But their cozy campfire interlude is interrupted…by a shrieking menace that swoops from the sky.

Regenerie’s mismatched wonder-workers must pull together to identify and neutralize this dire Interzone threat. But when Ridley himself is kidnapped, their challenge becomes personal and takes on added horror and urgency.

Dealing with the elusive attacker turns into a game of clever stratagems and careful timing. Trekking through the Interzone, confronting paranormal creatures, and infiltrating a hostile metroplex will test the Coven’s mettle…and prove to be Tole’s introduction to the unique demands of loyalty and love.

 



Review:

In the second book of Snow’s new series, we’re back to the futuristic world which we know now is run by the Coven of Three. Win, Tole, and Zee are not just humble magic users; they’re the actual Powers who make the city run so well. Of course how the city is running definitely depends on where you are in the society ladder, but Snow skirts most of the politics about running a city from a hidden lair and sticks to the romance and action mostly. In this sequel, the emotional and aggressive Tole who is prone to outbursts and melodrama finds his attention caught on sexy vampire rebel Ridley.

This book the author offers much more insight and detail into the Coven and specifically, Tole. While Zee is given more depth and understanding as well, Win unfortunately is left with his poor characterization from book one but moves on from the orgy free for all sex into an exclusive, committed relationship with Pablo. Because these three men are hybrids, angel-demon-human mixes and so powerful, they have no concept of love whatsoever. I wonder honestly if they were raised in some sterile environment without parents. Or did they simply come into existence at their current age?  How is it they have no concept of love or a deep, lasting connection?

Although these questions are never answered the author does hint that perhaps these men are not capable of such a connection. Yet then goes to show that with patience and love Pablo has shown Win exactly what it means to be in love and that it’s ok to give up the endless, heartless sex. Now that Win and Pablo don’t want to service the rest of the Coven, Tole is put out and immediately focuses on Ridley. Although Ridley took a turn with the gorgeous Win, who hasn’t?, Tole can’t help himself from the instantaneous attraction to the vampire. Their chemistry is strong and sizzles from the first interaction on.

Tole is certainly moody and prone to outbursts over the slightest thing but even with this he is a very likable character with his own brand of emotional, dramatic charm. As most of the book is spent on Tole and his perspective, his motivations are a welcome insight. Tole’s need for love and a connection as deep as Win’s shows in his jealously and obsessive behavior with Ridley. Seeing as the vampire and he only had one brief sexual encounter on the porch where Ridley serviced Tole, the single-minded pursuit of Ridley speaks more to Tole’s need for someone for himself than Ridley’s undeniable charm. But that is not detracting from their chemistry and potential relationship.

Unfortunately while the growing connection between Tole and Ridley is a strong and well-written aspect of the book, the author chooses to deviate from that with an action plot to progress their relationship and gain further insight into the world building and characters. While this insight is not unwelcome, the action plot was poorly executed and ill fitting with the theme of the book and the gay romance themes that were so prevalent in the first book. Here the author takes another right turn and introduces a spider-esque creature as the evil villain. This female consumes her mates for their powers after cocooning them in a spider web that shoots from her own body. As this is a futuristic novel, the comic book creature is not entirely out of place but it was jarring to the pace, writing and plot.

The specific scene where Keryss rapes Ridley is especially graphic and not fitting with the sexual content of the book so far. Ridley and Tole for the whole book dance around each other, building the sexual tension without ever releasing it – their sole encounter at the start the one exception. Tole chases after his vampire to save him based on the potential their relationship could have and in an odd twist, the usually promiscuous Ridley wants to tease and taunt but not consummate just yet. So when the following graphic and unappealing scene is thrown in, the easy pace and quick writing skidded to a halt:

 

The twine that still tethered Ridley to her hands was soon matched by other threads. Eyes widening in disbelief, Tole watched as Keryss positioned herself over Ridley’s hips, feet bracketing his pelvis. Her own hips rocked above him. In eerie slow motion, wetly glistening strings began to stretch from the spinner’s cunt to Ridley’s cock. Greedily they wound around it, tightening and tugging.

 

The scene continues as the rape goes on while Tole watches with “a nauseating wave of mingled horror, jealousy, and lust.” Lust? Seriously? This also threw Tole’s character as his confused feelings of anger and lust continue to make him unable to act but watch in horror as this goes on, only to run for help after Ridley and Keryss have flown off. Unfortunately for me, this scene lost the entire book for me. It was from left field and out of nowhere honestly and the book never recovers. From there the Coven must figure out how to save Ridley with an aside for Zee and his closed door sex with a woman helping them.

Now I mention the sex content of the book for several reasons. In the first book, sex was a big part of the characters and their interactions. Pablo was a prostitute and his role was a sexual charge between the three Coven members who, again, are highly sexual beings. There is a lot of explicit m/m sex in the first book. So when the sequel comes around and there is an opening scene of Tole having anonymous sex with an available tight ass, then the fellatio encounter with Ridley, and then nothing, the overall effect is jarring and confusing without a reason to the lack of consistency. The remaining sex scenes are between Keryss and Ridley and Zee and Miranda. Perhaps I am the only one that saw the weird shift from a gay erotic romance to heterosexual sex while Tole stresses over if he really loves Ridley. 

The resolution to Ridley’s kidnapping was predictable, yet Keryss’ demise was just weird. It was almost as if the author had given up on this book and Tole and Ridley’s relationship, just filling the pages with nonsense until getting to the clearly heterosexual relationship for Zee in the next book. There were more confusing aspects that no doubt will be cleared up when the third book is released but I find it frustrating that to fully understand and experience each book, you have to read the next in the series. This is a fatal flaw to the series for me as I want to understand and enjoy each book on it’s own merits while the continuation of the series adds depth and insight with each successive book. While series have been known to answer confusion questions left dangling in the next book, I find that the excessive number of these aspects makes the series unattractive for me.

Again – I’m just one person with an opinion and I know the author is extremely well liked. This was just my take. 

Get it HERE!


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