Crossroads by Keta Diablo
Handsome ex-cop Frank McGuire finds himself on a quest to locate his dead partner’s missing son. Rand Brennan has an identity issue, exercabated since the death of his father. Hoping to find himself, Rand drops out of college, takes to the streets and doesn’t realize he’s embroiled in duplicity and murder. In order to save Rand, Frank must confront the nefarious killers and…confront his long-suppressed feelings for Rand.
So, I read this book a few weeks ago and it was so horrifically bad that I didn’t bother to write a review. I figured with something this bad, it’d be obvious (sigh) and besides I don’t particularly like to write bad reviews. I’d rather just ignore the book and move on when it’s clear the author is spouting fan fiction meant to titillate without the benefit of a spellchecker. Hey, even *I* spell check so if you expect someone to pay $3 for your writing, a rudimentary check is probably worthwhile.
Unfortunately the technical problems inherent in the blurb are repeated throughout the story and that is before getting to the rape disguised as BDSM and one of the worst mystery storylines I’ve ever read. The grammatical, spelling, and editing errors are rampant in this short story (70 pages). This is all exacerbated (or exercabated if you’re the author) by the fact there is an actual sequel coming out soon. Clearly quality control cares absolutely nothing about their products. But this review is to elucidate why I think this book is one that deserves the tag “books that shouldn’t exist.”
To start off, the plot is supposedly about Frank McGuire, an ex-cop who is a well known PI and uses his skill and talent to do what even great cops can’t do. He becomes involved in a serial killer case and of course is the one to solve a completely obvious and ridiculous mystery that has seasoned detectives stumped. Focusing on the mystery portion before delving into the problematic characterization, there are a handful of clues offered that never really identify the culprit. Instead, there are only 2 possible candidates for the guilty party, both of which are involved in the murders. So there is no question about the answer to the “who-dun-it” the author created. It’s obvious and furthermore, not interesting since the real purpose of the story is the kinky and painful sex between the two men disguised as BDSM and sexy. The actual mystery is neither important nor given any weight, purpose, or clever ingenuity. It’s clumsy, transparent, awkward, and vaguely insulting when the transvestite is revealed as the super criminal.
Moving on from the mystery that didn’t need to be added are the characters themselves. Frank is perfect in just about every way and described by the author as handsome, brilliant, talented, and generous. He was only on the police force a handful of years but still has accomplished detectives begging for his help behind the scenes due to his excellent skills, long standing record, and of course his “visions.” The numerous mentions of his sparkling career record would be enough to shoot this into over done as he worked his way up the ranks of the police force from beat cop and including that time was only in the force for a few years. So it’s highly unlikely this person was able to establish such a lauded record as is implied. Even beyond that, the author then has to give Frank “visions.” A talent that is not much explained but gives him the extra insight into knowing the answers to most crimes, but yet is imperfect enough to forgive why he does make mistakes. This entire characterization had Frank seemingly too good to be true without any humanizing flaws but also incredibly arrogant and preaching wisdom well beyond his chronological age.
Rand for his part is completely non-existent as a character. He’s the son of Frank’s dead partner who literally ran away from home for no real reason and is living in a cheap apartment in a bad part of town and bussing tables at a bar to make a living. Why he left his well to do family and the comforts of college is not explained nor how Rand is running errors for the killer. Yes, the only possible killers of course employed Rand and then gave Rand incriminating evidence to hold for them. He knows nothing about this and perpetuates a very naive, innocent, not very bright personality that does very little and is not important; other than he is weirdly the object of Frank’s obsession. Rand’s mother apparently wanted Rand and Frank to spend time together so Rand would have a positive gay role model and conveniently has no problems with Frank lusting after Rand despite the age difference.
This lusting culminates in a rape scene that is blatant and nothing close to sexy or acceptable within a romance. To set the scene, Frank has been asked by Rand’s mother to find Rand and bring him home. She’s worried about him. Frank finds him immediately but decides that he’s going to scare Rand into running home to mom by pretending to be an intruder. Unfortunately while Frank is scaring Rand with everything from threats to stripping the terrified boy, he is overcome with lust and can’t help sexually violating Rand with first nunchucks and later himself. Here are excerpts:
The kid must have sensed a presence. He sat up in bed, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, and glanced around the room. His body tensed and his eyes widened―forest green at the moment and glistening like jack pines after a summer storm.
His voice barely a whisper and strained, Rand asked, “Who’s there?”
Frank put the gun to his cheek. “Get up.”
With trembling arms, he pushed the covers off, dragged his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. The whites of his eyes gleamed stark against the dark shadows in the room. “What do you want?”
Frank had taken the bullets out earlier, but the kid didn’t have to know that. He placed the gun to his forehead and grabbed a shaft of his thick, dark hair. “I’ll ask the questions.” He flicked the switch on a dim lamp beside the bed. “Do you understand?”
Rand’s voice faltered. “I don’t have any money, no jewels, not even a pack of smokes, if that’s―”
His head reeled to the side when Frank delivered an open-handed slap to his cheek. “Keep your mouth shut! Unless I tell you to speak, you say nothing, got it?
Rand pushed them down with one foot, kicked them aside and spread his legs again. “Please, sir, I don’t know what you want, but …”
His voice broke on a sob, and Frank knew he was truly terrified. He couldn’t stop now. He had to finish the job, get him to turn over that box. Frank put one hand on his back and pushed hard, making it difficult for him to remain in that position for long. He ran his hands down the sides of his torso, his hips and across his firm, hard ass, slipping his hand around to the front of his body.
“What’s this?” he asked, stroking his hard erection with a chuckle. “This turn you on, kid, you get off on rough?”
“No, please, I’ll do whatever you ask.”
Frank grabbed him by the hair, dragged him toward the bed, and took the handcuffs out of his pocket, securing one of Rand’s arms to the bedpost.
“Whatever I ask? Good. Lay across that bed, feet on the floor, spread wide.”
Frank removed his finger, picked up one stick of the Nunchukkas and inserted it slowly into his ass. Rand’s butt cheeks tightened and his hole puckered again from the invasion. Frank increased the pressure on the boy’s cock, stroking his thumb across the mushroom-shaped tip until his sphincter muscle relaxed and accepted the wooden stick.
His hips sank into the mattress to avoid further intrusion of the mini-weapon, but Frank followed it down and pushed it further into his rectum. Rand’s body went still and he drew a deep, shuddering breath. Frank waited for several long seconds while he adjusted to the foreign object inside him and then slid it in another inch. And then another. Rand’s ass quivered and his cock jumped spasmodically around his fingers.
“A mixture of pleasure and pain, isn’t it? Don’t fight it. Lay perfectly still. We still have another five inches to go.”
Rand’s lifted his head off the mattress and rolled it side to side.
“I said be still.”
Rand sagged into the mattress. A fine bead of perspiration covered his back and ass.
He’d never seen anything so perversely erotic as Rand’s ass in the air pushing against the weapon while his hips gyrated frenetically. He had no intention of taking him when he started this little game. He only wanted to scare him and punish him a little. But now, carried beyond himself, he had no choice. Hell, he’d wanted to fuck this kid for years and now that he had him at his mercy, he would.
So not only does Rand have no idea who is assaulting him but the reader is supposed to believe that he is willing, excited, and wanting to be raped by various weapons before being violated by the rapist. This can’t even be explained by rape fantasies (of which this wasn’t and there was no basis for Rand having any such fantasy) nor is this BDSM where the clear consensual element is violated. In no way is it believable that Rand wanted this and the attempts by the author to force such into the scene are awkward, hollow, and painful. Nowhere is this sexy, creative, or interesting and thrusting the main character, Frank, into the role of rapist is no way is romantic or erotic. This book had some problems immediately from the start but lost me at this scene, which extends for 15 pages. Frank, as well, finds the entire rape “So unfucking believable and wholly, entirely satisfying, he wouldn’t forget if he lived to be one hundred.”
From there Rand decides much later that Frank must have been his assailant, although there is absolutely no basis for this sudden intuition except the author wants to include more painful sex. However, Rand is ok with being raped because Frank was always hot so Rand heads over for some non-lube ass reaming that must have broken some blood vessels somewhere:
“No more, please, it hurts,” Rand said, wiggling his ass against the invader. “Don’t shove it in any further.”
“Don’t move,” Frank said firmly. “Stay perfectly still. I want you to feel every inch of this going up your ass.”
“Oh, God,” Rand said when Frank pushed down on his thighs forcing him to take another inch.
“We’re going to do this real slow,” Frank said. “One inch at a time so you never forget.”
But blissful cries spew from Rand’s mouth soon after Frank has forced him once again before the ending resolution to the non-mystery and a happy ever after. Nothing about this poorly written, poorly edited, and badly conceived book reads as romance or even fantasy writing. The writing is abrupt and prose awkward with unattractive phrasing. Here are several examples:
Frank blew air through his lips.
Blissful cries spewed from Rand’s lips
Rand let out a long, drawn out yelp.
Moonbeams blanketed the land as he parked the car
Rand cried out, his words unintelligible behind the gag, but Frank knew a mixture of shame and pleasure had rendered him mindless.
Frank exploded in endless waves of pleasure, the semen streaming into the boy’s ass without end.
Marlow was about to walk into a deadly, sinister trap.
I could go on but those should be enough examples to give you an example of the exaggeration and poor word and phrasing choices the author uses repeatedly within the text. If the plot itself and rape components weren’t enough to turn you off, the writing certainly does. This book is a failure and the author seems to think rape is good controversy, which I’m completely baffled about. I actually don’t have a problem with rape in stories if it’s well crafted and used appropriately. This is not a sexy rape as a fantasy, creative use of weapons, or even BDSM. This is flat out rape by the protagonist, which does not belong. Do not buy this book.
6 thoughts on “Crossroads by Keta Diablo”
Yikes. I’m baffled. This book got fairly high marks at GoodReads. Elisa Rolle even took the time to comment on it. Then, when I went to the author’s website and clicked on the Excerpts button, I was taken to a “weebly.com” (?) website of someone named Phoebe Jordan, who reviews books (this one got a 5, by the way) and describes herself as an aspiring author.
I don’t know quite what to make of it all.
Hmm, good point. I’ve no clue to be honest. The author gets into it with Elisa, who was nice enough to give a mention even when she didn’t particularly care for the book. And apparently claims that she’s been writing in M/M and M/F genres successfully under different pseudonyms. Will the real author please stand up?
I could be wrong but from what the author has written, I get the feeling she thinks her work is very intelligent and pushes the envelope. Obviously, I disagree with that statement. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was also a reviewer.
The whole thing is, as you said, mystifying.
I certainly don’t fault any writer for thinking his or her work is intelligent and groundbreaking. Lord knows we’d all like to think that. 😉 But playing fast and loose with online identities is another matter entirely.
I hope Ms. Diablo isn’t doing that, because it’s the sort of behavior that further besmirches the reputations of e-publishers and their authors.
Okay, honestly, I feel violated even reading that excerpt. I know that consent play is some of the most common in the scene (which is why “no” is never used as a safe word) but this…. this is not two people struggling to find their feet in BDSM or a misunderstanding or even the questionable consent that sometimes happens when people are in their “yellow” zone. This is flat out rape, and any erection is the result of adrenaline and fear because under those circumstances guys can and do get hard without being sexually interested. I’m so sorry that you had to suffer through this. If you want BDSM and consent issues handled more responsibly, I would offer my story…
I’m sorry you were upset by the excerpts. I will continue to remind readers they are out of context from a 15 page long scene but those were ones I felt exemplified my argument. I do think this is not a good example and I’ll certainly check out your story for comparison. 🙂
Thank you for the link.
Oh, I’m not sorry because I would have been furious if I bought that believing it was BDSM… actually, furious would have been a “nice” word for it. Stuff like that needs to be warned for because it’s not BDSM and it’s really not sexy, so thank you for the honest and detailed review.