Shattered (Phoenix Club 3) by CJ Bishop

Title: Shattered                   Word Count: 106 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Abel, Part 3

Abel’s heart is crushed by Devlin’s vehement rejection and refusal to believe the truth about his brother. With the threat of prison hanging over him, Abel is sent away with Horatio Kaplan to Italy for safe keeping.

Certain he has lost Devlin forever, and broken by the reality that he has devastated Devlin’s life, Abel takes an unexpected comfort in Kaplan when the man begins to show sincere care and affection for him. 

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL

CALEB

ANGEL

GABRIEL

MAXWELL
My Review: Having lost everything, Abel allows himself to be whisked away on a private jet with Kaplan to parts unknown. Abel is devoid of all emotion now that Devlin had forsaken him. Devlin himself is also in a world of hurt. He tries to detach himself from his feelings for Abel and concentrate on doing his duty as Savannah’s doctor. Cole and Gabe wish they could do more to help their friend Abel. It is Gabe who is the impartial voice of reason, telling Cole to give Devlin some time to process,  before going to talk to him. Cole wants to protect Abel and make sure that Devlin doesn’t send him to prison. Gabe realize that these two innocent men, Abel and Devlin are being crucified by  the actions of a monster.

The lines are being blurred in Abel’s arrangement with Kaplan when the man starts treating him more like a person rather than a trophy. Although Abel still mourns for the love lost, he finds a measure of release from his pain in Kaplan’s presence. On the other hand , Devlin finds no peace during his days. The look on Abel’s face when he tore him down is on a constant loop running through his brain. His subconcious also tortures him with long ago suppressed memories of his interactions with his brother that comes in the form of dreams. These dreams conflict with the idea of the idolized brother that Devlin remembers. His dreams remind him of a brother who was too willing to teach him how to masturbate when he was thirteen. Some of his brothers actions are borderline inappropriate. Devlin’s convoluted thoughts make him sick to his stomach as doubts begin to form. 

Now that the vault holding his memories has been cracked open, more and more questionable memories keep on popping up in Devlin’s brain. It’s driving him crazy,paired with the longing he still feels deep down in his soul for Abel. He gleans information about Abel from eavesdropping at Savannah’s door. He learns that Abel is out of the country with a man named Kaplan. It pains Devlin to think about Abel being with another man and he feels disloyal to his brother for even thinking about Abel at all.

Abel gets a little bit lost in the old world romantic feel that Italy offers. He doesn’t think Kaplan is so bad once he starts enjoying his company. Kaplan is very worldly and he explains the history of the beautiful place to Abel, his captivated audience. It doesn’t take long for the illusion to be torn and reality of his situation sets back in. It is Kaplan who encourages him to go back and fight for the man he loves. It is clear that Kaplan feels some sort of affection for Abel and aside from paying him twenty thousand dollars , he never treated him like a whore.

Meanwhile, Devlin has been waging a never-ending war between his emotions and his  memories. It is now solidified in his mind that his brother was indeed a child molester. This is corroborated by his best friend who he hasn’t seen in years. When he runs into him at a restaurant and they start catching up, Brandon has the same look as Abel when he talks about his dead brother, a look of relief. Devlin can no longer hide from reality when his own memories are pointing to the same truth, his brother was a monster.

On the day of Savannah’s release from the hospital, Devlin is shocked when he walks in and sees Abel. He can’t bear to look at his sweet tortured boy so he runs away. Since running away seems to be the theme with these two, their friends set a trap for them in mid-air on Kaplan’s jet. Finally, with all the walls broken down they both acknowledge who the real culprit is, the monster Craig. They both commiserate through their pain and reaffirm their undying love for each other. Sparks fly and they join the mile high club in the age old dance of love. This was a wonderful trilogy and I can’t wait to watch all the other men of Phoenix Club have their happily ever after. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

It Can’t Be You ( Phoenix Club 1) by CJ Bishop

Title: It Can’t be You            Word Count: 175 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

ABEL

Blurb:19-year-old Abel Sims – hot, sexy stripper – is a favorite at the gay strip club The Phoenix. Having no family but his 16-year-old sister, Savannah, and coming from the streets – The Phoenix club has become his home, the other boys his close-knit family.

Abel doesn’t trust the outside world and is content to remain within his safe haven. But when an overzealous customer sends Abel to the ER, he meets young, handsome Dr. Devlin Grant. The instant attraction he feels for the man stirs up the nightmares of his past, causing him to resist his new feelings. But when Savannah gets sick and ends up in Devlin’s care, it becomes impossible to avoid the doctor.

And just when his heart is ready to trust this new found love – Abel is confronted with a disturbing fact about the doctor that reaches deep into the past he has been hiding and running away from.

ABEL is an emotionally charged, sexy, heart-wrenching love story that will break your heart, then put it back together again.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and crude language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: Abel is one of the sexy young strippers at the Phoenix Club. He is only 19 yrs old , but he has lived a very rough life from an early age. He does his best for the only person that’s ever loved him, his sister Savannah. Savannah is 16 and very sickly. Abel has spent all his life protecting the very fragile young girl, but he wouldn’t trade it for anything. Abel was repeatedly rape by one of the counselors at the shelter they stayed at. Abel stayed quiet and endured his abuse, so that the counselor wouldn’t start on Savannah.

When he is hurt at work by an overzealous client who tried to rape him, his friend Cole takes him to the hospital. This is where his path crosses Dr. Devlin Grant. Devlin is very interested in the sexy young man, but he tries to maintain his professionalism. Devlin causes Abel’s heart rate to kick up a notch. Abel feels a frisson of fear, because for the first time he is attracted to someone and would like to pursue it. Abel knows he has too much baggage and he feels like his life is too tainted for a man like Devlin. He makes an effort to keep his disinterested facade in place. After all, Abel won’t have to see Devlin  once he leaves the hospital.  
                                                                                     

 Little does Abel know that their lives will be even more intertwined. When Abel’s beloved sister falls sick in the middle of the night, Abel calls his friend Cole who helps them to the hospital. Devlin happens to be the doctor on call. He is very surprised to see Abel so soon, the young man who has dominated his thoughts. After running a battery of tests, Devlin gives Abel the most devastating shocking news, Savannah is HIV positive. Abel feels gutted and his world starts imploding around him. Abel blames himself and scrambles to find an explanation for this diagnosis. He thinks back to one of the nights when they lived on the streets and went dumpster diving for food. Abel remembered  something pricked Savannah and she said it felt like a needle. Everything is clear to Abel now and he just knows he has to do whatever it takes to keep Savannah alive.  

A solution falls into Abel’s lap via an indecent proposal. His boss Max tells Abel about a proposition he has received on his behalf. Horatio Kaplan a wealthy client of the club wants to pay Abel handsomely to spend time with him sexually. Abel feels disgusted and dirty , but he knows there is no other way to pay for the care Savannah will need. Abel visits Savannah everyday in the hospital and he is always tortured by his ever growing feelings for the handsome doctor. Devlin starts developing serious feelings for Abel, but he soon realizes Abel has been hurt deeply and is very skittish.

Their first attempt at a coffee date goes horribly wrong when Devlin encourages Abel to have faith that his sister will be alright. This touches a nerve in Abel , because of all the memories it brings up of the horrendous injustice of the rapes that he endured when he was no more than a child. Devlin realizes that Abel’s outburst stems from a far deeper pain than him saying the wrong thing. His suspicions are tentatively confirmed by Savannah when she breaks down and tell him the life they have lived thus far. Devlin cries for these two beautiful souls who have sustained so much pain.   

Abel tries to keep his distance and pushes Devlin away as he knows its for the best. He is in no position to start any kind of relationship, when he is burdened with so many issues. Abel goes ahead and set up the parameters for the ‘arrangement’ he will be entering with Kaplan. Abel’s friends Cole and Gabe help him  in a most pleasurable way to get used to intimacy so that he won’t get a panic attack when he has consensual sex. It is Cole’s and Gabe’s  loving friendship that keeps his demons away. The only place Abel really feels safe is in the controlled environment of the strip club.

Abel is shocked and nervous when Devlin shows up in one of the private rooms in the club saying he wants to talk. Abel is so afraid of the hopes and dreams he sees reflected in Devlin’s eyes, but he is weakened by his desires to taste something good and wholesome for a change. Abel gives into his desires to take something just for himself. The spark between the two soon turns into an inferno and they both give into their carnal desires. Devlin leaves after with hopes and the promise of a lunch date. Abel doesn’t want to give Devlin false hope or hurt him, but he wants this.

Devlin proposes a way to help Abel take care of Savannah financially through a fund set up with insurance from his brother’s death. Abel feels a glimmer of hope to have an alternate plan. Devlin tells Abel the story of how his brother Craig was a counselor who was killed by one of the teenagers he tried to help. Immediately Abel’s hopes are dashed when he realizes that Devlin’s dead brother Craig and his former abuser is one and the same. It turns out that Abel is the teenager who killed him. To be continued…..I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.