Thank you to K. Webster and her team for the advance reader copy of The Heart of Smoke, the third Shameful Secret story.
I love a little hit of taboo from K. Webster and this series delivers both a steamy romance and a bit of a surreal emotional experience. The time the Park family is delivering an M/M romance with Jude falling for his therapist Tate.
I am a K. Webster review team member, but I remain honest and genuine in my reviews.
He’s a mysterious recluse with an unhealthy obsession with his therapist.He doesn’t want help… He just wants him.
Love is for those who deserve it. I certainly don’t. The person I loved most in this world died in my arms decades ago and I am to blame. I’ll forever be tormented by what-ifs where I was Mom’s hero instead of this repulsive, mask-wearing beast I’ve ultimately become. All that’s left of my heart is black smoke—suffocating and toxic. I’m nothing but a shadow of a man, locked in my dark fortress of a home, away from people and hidden in my carefully walled-up world. My family is all I have to live for. Somehow, they look past the fact I survived when Mom didn’t. Like it’s not my fault. It’s also why I’ll protect them with every single fiber of my being. Even from him. Tate Prince has been paid by my father to infiltrate our family. Invited not just into our homes, but into our past, our heartaches, and even our minds. Dad thinks this young man—a therapist with a captivating grin—is the key to repairing all the damage we’ve sustained over the years. But I know better. I can see through Tate’s friendly disposition and easygoing nature. In his eyes are dark secrets that haunt him like ghosts from another life. He’s not as perfect as he seems. Underneath his mask of smiles are ugly truths I’m desperate to uncover. And I will uncover them. If that means keeping him under lock and key where I can watch his every move, I will. It’s not captivity if he’s being paid, right? However, when I start unraveling his life, I learn there’s a lot more to Tate than meets the eye. The more I discover, the more obsessed I become. My heart, the dusty, charred, still-smoking useless organ sparks to life making me come to a startling realization. I want him. I’m not the only one who feels this way, though. Tate’s biggest secret is he already has a monster in his life. A terrible, spiteful monster—one who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. But I’m uglier, nastier, and a hell of a lot more vicious. I may have failed to save my mother, but I will not fail this time. Tate is mine.
Check out my more detailed thoughts below…
- Characters: Jude and Tate are the leads in the latest Park saga. Jude is the Park, a member of the most influential and well-off family in town. This family is struggling though, with an eclectic group of characters really in need of a neutral party to talk to, enter Tate. Callum, the lead from The Teacher of Nothing hires Tate to help him, his student-turned-wife Willa, and the throuple from The Tangle of Awful: Aubrey, Hugo, and Spencer. Jude may be the most troubled of them all though, keeping his face behind a mask after sustaining damage in the housefire that killed his mother. Tate may have been hired to help the family, but in turn, it is the family that helps Tate begin to heal after he escapes an abusive relationship. As Tate is everyone’s therapist, there are lots of character cameos that will make fans of this series happy. Warning everyone that this family and its taboo tropes are not for the faint of heart, make sure you are ready before you dive in. There are times I love the taboo of it all while I am reading it, but at least in this book it really feels the least taboo of them all. I also loved all the teases for Dempsey’s book, give me another age-gap romance!
- Setting: Park Mountain is the town in which the story takes place, but really the central location is Jude’s home. He’s a recluse and so much of the story takes place in his bedroom and all of this contributed to the surreal emotional reading experience of these two boys in desperate need of each other’s comfort.
- Pacing: I flew through this book in about two days. As the stakes in the story rose so did my desire to just keep reading. I loved the pacing of the relationship too. I was on the edge of my seat in the latter third of the book when Jude and Tate’s inner and actual demons had to be battled and how they fought for each other and themselves.
- Romance: Now for Jude and Tate’s love story which I was emotionally invested in quite quickly. What starts as Jude being a bit sinister and destructive morphs into how he heals himself by caring for Tate. Then Tate is going through a similar journey, as he’s never had anyone he can trust to help him carry his burdens. Don’t get me wrong this book is still quite steamy, maybe not as taboo as the previous two instalments, but this one for sure pulls on the heartstrings.
The Heart of Smoke receives 4/5 stars.
You can pick up the story here.
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Thank you again to Kristi and her team for the review opportunity. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!