Cold - Brandon Shire

4.5 stars... Brandon Shire has completely WOWED me with his excellent prose and masterful storytelling!

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Cold by Brandon Shire is not only the first book of a new series, but it is also the first book I have had the pleasure to read from this author. This book is an excellent example of great storytelling, and I was totally enthralled from the start… there is no flowery prose, nor is this a raw and gritty tale. It is not a roller coaster ride and you will not find any angst or gratuitous sex thrown in for the sake of it, and for the most part we don’t even get to see the romance. So, by now you are probably wondering why I would even read this book. Simple… the WOW factor for me was the writing, just amazing and at times beautiful, especially watching the relationship grow between these two, their character development had me captivated and swept along on this journey with two men I just fell in love with. 

In Cold, Brandon Shire paces the book perfectly and drip feeds the information allowing us to absorb and digest, running the ramifications through our minds before the next piece is slipped into place helping us build a detailed and vivid picture of… Lem the gentle giant with a secretive past… and Anderson the fallen media darling and nightclub owner, neither of which had the perfect upbringing and both of them have been damaged by the cruelties life has dealt them. Not all the secrets are revealed in this first book and I still have many questions unanswered, the impatient side of me wants it all NOW but alas we will have to wait!

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PRISON IS A HEARTLESS PLACE ~ Even more so if you are a renowned gay man, and  five feet, seven inches of scrawny! Anderson has spent eight years in prison for a crime that although he was culpable, he was not the instigator, he was betrayed by his lover and lost everything, but most of all he lost his freedom. Now prison is a ticking clock, counting down the months to his release… He has one objective, stay out of trouble and get out of prison!  Anderson is an open book and his thoughts fly freely enabling us as readers to understand him more and we learn some of his secrets and the events that led up to  his conviction.

Lem, is not quite so forthcoming, he has spent eighteen years incarcerated and has created a necessary persona to survive, to others his size was immediately intimidating and follow that up with his steely gaze and stoical manner and Lem was to be avoided at all costs. At this point in the series, Lem is still an enigma, his mind like the man is stoically guarded, internalizing and even hiding from himself. We see the dangerous side to Lem and have yet to find out why, but in my opinion, this belies his true disposition, he is an intelligent, gentle and caring man who wanted nothing more than to be left alone in his self inflicted isolation, maintaining his sanity with his passion for nature, working with plants and happy to while away his spare time reading magazines with his thoughts drifting to his one love and passion… the forest, but to him it is an empty dream as Lem has nothing and no one and that’s the way he likes it… until Anderson. Now Lem is confused by his own behaviour, for the first time since the death of his brother he wants someone to see past all the bravado and see the real him.

He stared at the bonsai on the table, lost in his thoughts. He missed that kind of space, the thousands of acres he had to roam because he was charged to watch over it. There were weeks when he wouldn’t see a single soul. It was just him and the forest. There was one spot he particularly liked when he was out west. He’d camp out by Stillwater River and watch the wildlife come in for a drink while he held himself steady in a tree a hundred feet above their head, in awe of their beauty and grace.

Anderson fears Lem the murderer yet lusts for Lem the man who uttered the words “I would never hurt you” and battling with his conscience is only exasperating his longing for Lem and ramping up the fear factor. But when he looks into Lem’s eyes, he knows he is safe with his gentle giant and after eight years of living in fear and anxiety – in that moment he feels free and the connection, although silent was palpable and he felt safe to just let go.

He took another step back and looked at Lem fully, studying him; something which he had been terrified to do since he saw Lem the first time. He had a rugged, angled face, weathered by pain and something he guessed was an internal misery. He saw emotion and a deep hurt etched around Lem’s eyes.

What I loved about the emotional and physical connection between these two men was the hope I felt, it was profound and my heart was full reading it, and to be honest, personally I can’t say I felt it was hot sex, I almost felt like a voyeur, it was intimate and beautiful, the passion was intense, they were just grabbing a moment in time and it had to be perfect and Brandon Shire truly made me feel that emotion with his words, with an ending that made me both smile and cry.. yep, that would be me again with the ugly tears!!

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"I think I love you" Anderson whispered as he heard his footsteps fade away

I can only guess as to why Brandon chose the title for this series, my own impression would be the Cold that had for so long rendered Lem numb to anything but existing and Anderson was the warmth that was slowly melting the ice within the man and fanning the flames of desire that had long ago been forgotten… that would be the romantic in me, but I am sure Mr Shire will enlighten me at some point! I also wish that Anderson could have a nickname or something shortened… as Anderson seems so formal, unfortunately our two MC’s barely had time to get to know one another let alone for them to develop endearments,  something that I am hoping will change with the coming books in the series. I know I mentioned before that Brandon Shire blew me away with his writing and believe me he did, I am all kinds of wowed by his literary skills, however my only gripe would be some repetition which in this case became noticeable, a couple of times I had to look back thinking I was reading the same page again, plus the use of the word short referring to his stature and time to serve, I think Anderson was obsessing about the two and understandably because his main focus was to get out and repeating it was becoming a mantra and his size he was more than aware of because he lived in fear.

This is an excellent book and I am suitably impressed with this start to the Cold series, we are also introduced to a few well developed secondary characters that I would like to see more of, I was pulling a high five for Anderson’s Mum at one point and his sister although she seems innocent and naive, I can see the fierce protector in her, and Officer Jefferson… he has already won a place in my heart!

Also, check out this song from ZZ Ward it's from the soundtrack to the book, Loved it so much I and bought the whole album! Very atmospheric and I will listen whilst I read.

This book was provided by the Author in exchange for a fair and honest review

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