Karl Blake’s good at a lot of things: killing bad guys, rescuing hostages…and looting priceless diamonds, but when a bullet ends his career as a mercenary he discovers that he’s really bad at living in a huge house with nothing to do. A shy, oddly sexy gardener with an unexpected liking for rough sex seems just what the doctor ordered for his boredom. But Adam’s got secrets that make Karl’s seem mundane, and if the two of them are going to find a future together, there’s a lot more to deal with than dandelions in the lawn.
With the past and the present combining to push them apart, betrayal, hurt, and mistrust around every corner, the two of them need to focus less on labels and more on what they are to each other.
Because a rose by any other name…
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Truthful Change is an ultimately light, easy read that I pretty much enjoyed reading but has some significant hurdles. I also don’t really understand the authors’ choices in creating the various situations. It’s almost as if the authors ratcheted up the drama, then got caught so took easy outs instead of prolonging the angst. While this works because I wouldn’t have wanted to read endless angst and anger in this particular offering, I also think I ended up being more uncomfortable with the various issues than others readers will be – judging by the wealth of positive reviews. The best I can say is if you can read this story with the light hand that is intended and not get swept up in the drama, it’s a nice beachy read. If you’re like me and can’t help but get involved in the issues, you may not like it as much.
The story starts with a prologue showing FBI agent Aiden having a sex with his love in partner, Scott. They’re a happy but busy couple and staying connected is getting difficult. The first thing you should know that’s not very obvious is that Scott/Aiden is not the main couple. Why a book would put this out there first I think is the first problem but keep in mind that the real love connection is Aiden/Karl so don’t get too attached to Scott. Now fast forward some undisclosed amount of time and Aiden is posing as gardener Adam for ex-mercenary Karl. Karl is the subject of an FBI investigation and they’ve sent gay Aiden in to have sex with Karl and learn what he can during pillow talk.
Except the plan goes awry when Aiden really, really, really gets off on the rough sex they’re having and starts to have feelings for Karl. Aiden must deal with his existing relationship to Scott and then handle Karl’s feelings of betrayal when his secret is out. As if all of this messy emotional stuff isn’t enough, there’s also the matter of the FBI investigation to Karl’s old mercenary group. Angst, drama, hot sex, car chases, and action galore.
The plot is pretty decent but it stays very superficial. The FBI investigation is just a vehicle to throw Karl and Aiden together and that works for what it is. The later scenes involving the stakeout and subsequent action are pretty boring and alter what works about the book so I really wish the story had found another way to prolong the happy ending than using that. It’s not horrible but after enjoying watching Aiden/Karl interact for so long, I didn’t particularly enjoy the later wrap up of the investigation. But that’s me and this is, among everything, a rather mild compliant.
The characters are really the star here. Aiden and Karl have explosive chemistry and a rough, raw style that simply shines. Their interaction carries the book and helps it over the significant infidelity hurdle saddled from the very beginning. I had a hard time with Aiden cheating on Scott since it seems so unnecessary. Why have Aiden in a relationship at all? This piece feels manipulative and Aiden especially is not always likable as he describes his relationship with Scott in mostly positive terms. You can tell Aiden is not desperately in love with Scott and really…the smoking hot sex with Karl is reason enough to jump ship so I get why this happened. I just didn’t think it was necessary to drag out the infidelity then wrap it up with such a weak, unbelievable resolution. I didn’t believe Scott’s later actions at all and thought the story was taking an easy out regarding a situation it purposefully developed.
If you can get over that, and a lot of readers can, then the relationship between Karl and Aiden is worth the price of the book. Not only is the sex hot but their passion is clear and conversations interesting. I liked watching these two together and the best parts of the book are not only the sex – have I mentioned it’s incredible? – but also as these two circle around each other and finally fall in love. This has a lot of great scenes of quiet intimacy and Karl especially is a great character. His fear and need are juxtaposed to his arrogant, confident personality and delivers an eye catching and well developed character. Some of the later scenes are too easy, such as Karl repeatedly defending Aiden’s betrayal after barely a moment’s anger, but really by this point the book isn’t trying to do things in a necessarily realistic or complex way. The problems are meant to be set up and resolved easily as a showcase to Karl and Aiden’s relationship. When you see it that way, the story really works as a light, absorbing read.
The writing is decent, though the beginning especially tends to go off on internal monologues where a character tells the reader everything they need to know. The set up and background are all told and this is distracting. However once Karl and Aiden pick up and their chemistry starts sparking, a smoother more active voice takes over. The dialogue is quick and punchy with nice prose and a good style. If you’re looking for something fun, absorbing, and smoking hot, I’d recommend Truthful Change. Just be sure to read for Karl/Aiden connection and not worry about the other things, it’ll help.
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