The Highway Man by Ali Katz

The Highway Man by Ali Katz

Blurb:

Hungary, 1750

Janos Vesh is a man on the edge. He’s spent all of his adult life fighting his past. Now he roams the highways of the southern Carpathian Mountains chasing what little vengeance fate has to offer for the wrongs done to him and to his family. But satisfaction eludes him, and his only comfort comes in the arms of his lover, Stefan.


The soldier’s constant love is no longer enough to rein in the highwayman’s growing recklessness. Stefan doesn’t know what drives Janos along the path to self-destruction. He knows only that trying to save the man he loves from himself is fast becoming a losing battle. He’s not ready to give up, but ideas are running short.

A robbery gone bad, a descent into darkness, and Janos’s fragile hold on sanity begins to crumble. Stefan has one last hope. Will it succeed where all else failed?

 

 

Review:

This is an interesting and unique story that still feels incomplete. The writing was engaging and clean, keeping the story moving through melodrama and action evenly and creating intriguing characters that capture your attention. Although the ending was neatly wrapped up with the requisite happy ending, I felt these characters had a lot more to say. Their connection was still undeveloped and unexplored and their relationship had so much room to grow that the shorter length (~20k words) left more to be desired. The combination of personalities will create a lot of tension and conflict in their relationship and despite being together for three years, they are still just getting to know each other on a fundamental level leaving so much unexplored.

Janos is a man running from his demons. Taken from his home in his early teens and forced to endure acts of depravity no child should encounter, the experiences have left a scar mentally and physically upon the man. Janos’ mental stability is certainly at risk as black moods and depression hang over him, forcing him into reckless and self-destructive behavior. For all his callousness Janos does love Stefan as well as his younger sister Nici. His inability to trust is based on his experiences with two men who betrayed him, one kind and one not. Never recovering from those betrayals, Janos struggles with needing Stefan while pushing the man away. This back and forth coupled with Janos’ self-destructive tendencies cause conflict between the two men, who despite the emphasis on sex really do care for each other.

Stefan is just as interesting a character as Janos. Stefan experiences a great deal of frustration with Janos’ secrets, black moods, and reckless behavior. The inability to help in any way or even know the reason behind Janos’ actions forces Stefan to give up on the other man several times. Stefan is certainly an unlikely character in that he experiences a range of negative emotions towards Janos. He doesn’t exude endless patience and love for the wounded man, he wants answers and the ability to help in some way. Stefan is not willing to give Janos all the time and space the man needs, he attempts to help several times and when that fails – Stefan walks away. While not always a likeable choice for a character in a romance, this was a refreshing attitude and worked in the story’s favor.

The action and conflict between the men moves at an even pace between memories of Janos’ tortured past and present actions, both positive and negative. The chemistry between Janos and Stefan was incredibly hot, resulting in sizzling sex scenes but even those were kept to a minimum without the need to embellish too much and take away from the story. The writing was clean and easy keeping the melodrama to a reasonable level and not tipping the angst too far into the ridiculous range. The interesting characters and well-crafted setting will entice readers in this quick read. I just wished this had been a full story instead of a truncated one.

Get it HERE!

 


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