REVIEW: Force of Law by Jez Morrow
Dear Ms. Morrow:
I didn’t expect anything of this book except that the excerpt intrigued me, so to discover a gem like this was a wonderful surprise. I love how you played with both the Cinderella fairytale and the old skool Harlequin Presents tropes and came up with something so powerful and good.
Tom is an auto-mechanic. Or not even that? Tom works at a quickie lube joint (no, not that kind). He’s a year out of a relationship with Wells, a pampered scion of a rich family who seems to like slumming. Wells disappeared one day and Tom only found out later that he’d been left for a woman. The story opens when Well’s cousin Law pulls up in his Lamborghini Diablo and offers to take Tom to Well’s wedding reception. Law is huge, filthy rich, invincibly powerful — all the requirements for a Harlequin Presents dominant asshole male. Tom doesn’t know what Law’s motivation is, but Tom sees it as an opportunity for revenge, for final closure, and he agrees to go.
I love the descriptions of Law:
Law Castille was an impressive guy. Always had been. He had always intimidated Tom, damn him anyway.
His bold profile presented toward Tom with a high, solid cheekbone, heavy jaw, and rounded chin. His full lips were seductive, cruel. His dark hair was corporately trim, but it looked soft. Tom couldn't see his eyes for his sunglasses, but knew they were striking, very dark with a hard, gemstone gleam.
He was bigger even than Tom remembered, sleek and massive as a prize bull. He had his shirtsleeves rolled up around his huge biceps. His muscles didn't have that distorted, outsized, veins-popping steroidal look. To make sure, Tom glanced down at his crotch. Steroids shrank the testicles. Nope. There was nothing small down there.
The black fabric of Law's trousers was drawn tight across his heavy thigh, showing the interwoven cabling of muscles underneath. Tom's cock lifted.
He tore his glance away and sank back into the bucket seat. Last thing he ever wanted was to get caught getting hard for Law. He wasn't sure where that had come from. Testosterone had reached critical mass in here. He didn't dare look back or he would turn into a pillar of-‘okay, into a pillar. He stared straight ahead.
After the wedding, Law corners Tom in his apartment and you manage to write one of the best forced seduction scenes I’ve ever read. Tom is still convinced Law is straight and that he’s about to be raped by Law as a way to put him in his place. Tom has always been sure that he’s dominant, so to have Law threaten him and then penetrate him terrifies him . . . and remakes his world. You do an absolutely brilliant job of showing how very much Tom is both scared out of his mind and yet also desperately wants Law, and then showing how Tom remakes himself for the better in his new role and in his relationship with Law.
The conflict is very Old Skool Harlequin Presents: what does Law feel for Tom? Tom admits to himself very early that he loves Law and although the reader can see Law caring for Tom, his ruthlessness and his granite demeanor mean that Tom has very little idea of his role in Law’s life. The doormat to asshole ration that’s Jane’s way of measuring a good Presents is almost even. While Law’s an asshole, he’s a fun one without apologies or angst, and Tom is no one’s doormat. And the ending is pure Old Skool Harlequin Presents, too, with a full declaration of love at first sight and ruthless drive to the goal of stamping himself on Tom’s life and truly memorable grovel. Utterly, brilliantly perfect.
And I love your humor:
He flipped open the phone. "Hi."
Law didn't waste time with hello. "We're on the ninth hole, fishing Aquaman out of the water hazard."
Golf. What fun. "And what are you learning about your business partner?"
"He can't swim," Law said for starters. "And I really need to rethink my position with his company."
Tom grinned. "What's he learning about you?"
"If he were paying attention to this phone call-‘and he's not-‘he would know that I can be led around by my dick."
"I'm not leading you, Law."
"But you could."
I also love that the difference between Tom as a mechanic and Law as a billionaire is never an issue between them. Jessica at Racy Romance Reviews posted about this recently in her review of Victoria Dahl’s Lead Me On. But unlike in Pretty Woman — which this book is obviously modeled on, down to the polo game — the class difference between Tom and Law is never an issue. And whether that’s realistic or not in real life, it’s completely refreshing in my reading. The conflict in this book is pure romance-angst about what Law feels, rather than Tom wondering whether he deserves Law or will be able to live up to Law’s lifestyle or whatever else he might think as a mechanic going out with a billionaire.
There is one completely shocking scene toward the end of the book that I don’t want to give away. But you’d written Law so well up until then that I could not only believe that he’d done what Tom thought he’d done, but could forgive him for it too, as Tom did. Perfectly done. I haven’t been on the edge of my seat reading a book in a long time the way I was with that scene and the aftermath of it.
The story is told almost entirely from Tom’s deep third person perspective. And while I always miss seeing the relationship from both sides when this happens, I think adding Law’s perspective as you do, late in the book, is actually unnecessary. The scene where Law receives a blackmail threat can be cut and explained when Law discusses it with Tom, and Law’s thoughts about his conversation with his mother could also be part of the denouement with Tom, rather than told from Law’s perspective. It just seemed a curious choice to add his perspective more than three quarters of the way through the novel when it’s not totally necessary to our understanding of the plot.
That aside, this book is, as I said, a complete gem. It took me back to my days of reading Harlequin Presents when I was thirteen, but with the twist of it being a wonderful, sweet m/m romance instead, told with humor and obvious caring. Thank you!
This book can be purchased in ebook format at Torquere Books.
This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Torquere Books through the book link.