REVIEW: Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon
Dear Mr. Lanyon,
When we posted Sarah’s guest review of Anah Crow’s book , we got numerous posts lauding the fact that we had put up an m/m themed book and (seemingly) wanting more. I’m not a math wiz but I can put two and two together and began hunting through the m/m offerings of various epubs. Jane’s review of your Adrien English mystery series had brought your name to my attention earlier this year. So, being the m/m newbie that I am, I decided to try one of your books since Jane knows good writing when she reads it.
Another reason I picked your book to begin with is the fact that as a Gay man (Edited to add: At least I’ll continue to assume you’re a man until it’s proven otherwise), you certainly know of what you write. I wouldn’t have to worry about writing a review of how realistic the sexual attraction between Will and Taylor is only to have readers post that no Gay man would act/react that way, etc, etc. It would be kind of a safety net for my tottering steps out on the high wire. I also looked for a book that featured two men already secure in their sexual orientation. Discussions with TeddyPig had made me aware that books featuring a man coming out to himself have to be handled well for the character to be believable. So again, with “Dangerous Ground,” this was another hurdle already cleared.
So, how did I like the book? Very well, thank you. It amused me that Will and Taylor aren’t both outdoor He-Men. Taylor is quite happy to spend his vacations lounging on a boat deck, drowsing away in the tropical sun and only reluctantly agrees to accompany Will on this great wilderness trek through the backwoods of the High Sierras. I’m with Taylor; give me comfort and a 5 star hotel any day. Will is the one who grew up hiking, camping and communing with God’s fanged and clawed creatures.
Still Taylor has held up his own despite the fact that he’s still recuperating from a gunshot wound in the line of duty. He’s dealing with his psychological worry that he’ll never regain the strength, speed and most importantly the confidence he had before the shooting. The two engage in not so subtle testosterone battles of will over not needing a helping hand here or keeping up during an all day hike there. With thoughts of rather dying than acknowledging weakness. Their silences can go on for hours at a time during the day and they’re comfortable sitting by a campfire at night without filling the air with useless chatter. Their language is earthily “guy.” I also laughed that someone else remembers Tang.
It’s when they come across the plane wreck that their Bureau of Diplomatic Security ears perk up. Sigh….at least it’s not some supersecret, “uber Black Ops” type ‘made up’ governmental department. They quickly slip into the shorthand style of investigation that’s made their three year partnership such a success as they process the crime scene. The next piece of the puzzle snaps into place when they discover the second scene complete with the missing money from the casino heist gone bad. But it’s when the remaining robbers make their move and catch them out of place to defend themselves that things get nasty.
For a novella this story has a lot of conflicts going on. Taylor and Will’s sexual and working histories, Taylor’s lack of experience in the outdoors setting and of course the robbers who are dead set, literally, on getting the over 2 million dollars they feel they’ve worked hard for.
Will and Taylor are BFFs but it’s Taylor who wants more while Will seems to be worried that any sexual relationship could end what they already have. He doesn’t want to risk their working partnership and currently has a man he’s been seeing for a while. They have Issues hanging over their heads from a drunken pass Taylor made the night before he got shot that Will turned down. Now Taylor wants a chance to prove to Will that sex between them could not only be good but might lead to something more while Will sees it as an opportunity to get this out of their systems, to “clear the air” so to speak.
"What am I supposed to think?" Will asked, and it took effort to keep his voice as level as Taylor’s. "That you’re in love? We both know what this is about, and it ain’t love, buddy boy. You just can’t handle the fact that anyone could turn you down."
"Fuck you," Taylor said, abandoning the cool and reasonable thing.
"My point exactly," Will shot back. "And you know what? Fine. If that’s what I have to do to hold this team together, fine. Let’s fuck. Let’s get it out of the way once and for all. If that’s your price, then okay. I’m more than willing to take one for the team — or am I supposed to do you? Whichever is fine by me because unlike you, MacAllister, I –"
With an inarticulate sound, Taylor launched himself at Will, and Will, unprepared, fell back over the log he’d been sitting on, head ringing from Taylor’s fist connecting with his jaw. This was rage, not passion, although for one bewildered instant Will’s body processed the feel of Taylor’s hard, thin, muscular length landing on top of his own body as a good thing — a very good thing.
When the sex does happen, both scenes are hawt though one suffers from what I call inappropriately timed sexual encounters. There they are, in a falling down cabin after a night in the cold, knowing two people are tracking them down to kill them and only having three cartridges in the one rifle they have so let’s have some hawt sex. Hmmmmm, I guess this is a “we’re glad to be alive” encounter. But at least I wasn’t left feeling that either man was wondering if he’d paid the electrical bill.
Will and Taylor are supposed to be good at their jobs and better when they work together. This shows by how quickly they assess the crime scenes, how they work out possible scenarios and make decisions about how to handle the evidence and the robbers. But as well as most of this was done, I was still left wondering about the earlier incident that lead to Taylor being shot. Is the ease with which Will and Taylor manage this crime supposed to mean they’ve worked out the issues left over from before?
Since poor Taylor hates camping and where he is, of course it makes sense that he has to save the day and keep Will from being killed. And bless his heart he does a good job crawling back from the edge of death, keeping alive through the night of tracking the killers and, well, “saving the day.” Again we see how well Will and Taylor work together. And though a woman would probably think being saved by the California Dept. of Fish and Game was cute, Taylor views it as something they’re going to have to live down. So guy.
Overall, the novella worked well for me though I am tired of bullets leading to open declarations of love everlasting. It’s a tired, old cliched plot device
I’ve seen it used too often. However, since the length of the story doesn’t allow for much in depth psychoanalysis, okay. The suspense conflict is also fairly basic but I liked this since, again, there isn’t enough space for an entire kingpin organization to be invented, explained and taken down.
Finally, this isn’t a perfect world where openly Gay men are happily accepted. Though Will and Taylor are comfortable in their own skins, they still have to maintain some situational awareness in social areas. So, there it is and I’m glad I chose one of your stories for my increasing forays into the world of m/m romance. B
This book can be purchased in ebook format.