A new author to me when I read Dangerously Happy, Varian Krylov quickly made an imprint on me with her writing style. Her penchant for a storyline that was not only refreshing but unique, left me wanting more. When her newest release, Bad Things, came up for release I didn’t hesitate to dig in with head and heart. Please take note of the warnings listed above. There are explicit sex scenes and scenes with dubious consent. There are some BDSM scenes and also scenes where there are m/m/m. If you find this type of material hard to read or if you are at risk for possible triggers, then it would be in your best interest to pass this one up. Personally, I still wanted to read Xavier’s story. I wanted to find out what makes him tick and what compels him to do the things he does.
Xavier comes across as very gruff and hard-core. A man with little patience he expects you to fall in line with what he wants and when he wants. He is very intimidating, not only with his size but with his personality. What he doesn’t show, to anyone, only a couple people in his inner circle, he is very devoted and loves wholeheartedly. Of course, to see this you have to get past his barrier he constructs around himself. He is definitely someone you want on your side if these things go bad. And, for his sister, things did go bad about ten years ago. She was sexually assaulted and Xavier has been trying ever since to round up these molesters. Guilt has been living inside of him for many years for not being there when she needed him. In return, he feels he is not worthy. Not worthy to give love or receive love back.
Focusing on his sister’s case, he gets information that leads him to a club downtown. He has reason to believe these scumbags may hang out there, on occasion. He applies for a job as a bouncer and is hired pretty quickly. His intentions are to snoop around maybe talk to the staff and see what he can find out. He has a bad feeling about this place and his instincts are usually spot on.
While working one night Xavier notices Carson, the bartender, glancing his way, often. Maybe it’s time to introduce himself and see where it leads. There’s something about the big guy that strikes a nerve in Carson. He’s definitely attracted to him but not sure what to do. Carson tries to play the straight card but deep down he is pretty sure he is gay. Right now, however, he has been running side errands for the boss to earn extra money. In the pit of his stomach he feels something is not right. Too late to back out, Carson finds himself in danger and more trouble than he could ever imagine.
When the boss wants Carson to snoop on Xavier they come up with a plan that will get him inside his house. He needs a place to stay since he has been evicted and Xavier, trying to be nice, offers his place for a few days. Being someone who doesn’t trust anyone, Xavier more or less sets a trap for Carson and he falls in, hook, line, and sinker. Scared and going crazy with fear, Carson does not recognize this side of Xavier. He knows he is in major trouble. He realizes quickly that Xavier is out to destroy him. He will get his answers and he doesn’t care what he has to do to get them. Carson hates Xavier for the things he is doing to him, but he hates himself more for liking it.
Varian Krylov takes us on a detailed and intricate journey with many twists and turns. She doesn’t pull any punches nor does she sugar coat what is going on. She puts her characters through the ringer along with you, the reader, if you are willing to hold on for the ride. The plot thickens with each new piece of information taking you to the edge of your seat with suspense. The dialogue is crass and crude at times but very effective for the scenes she depicts.
While the story more or less paints a picture of Xavier being an evil, short tempered, heartless man, he also has many good traits that he tries to keep hidden. He, himself, doesn’t like the way he acts sometimes and he often gets nauseous by the things he does. You can see by the way he cares for his sister and his close friends, Aidan and Dario, that he is a fierce lover and has a good heart. At his core, what he wants but doesn’t feel he deserves, is someone to love and love him back. Will he get that with Carson? Will he allow himself the privilege to love someone? Will Carson forgive him for his brutal handling?
If you like suspense and a story with a dark edge I would encourage you to read Bad Things. Yes, there are moments when you wonder if you are strong enough to continue reading. Hang in there because those moments will help you to understand what drives the characters and motivates their desires. It will allow you to see Xavier for who he was, who he is now, and who he wants to be.
Aidan and Dario have quite a bit of page time when they open their home to Carson when he needs a hideaway. Easily, we fell in love with them in Dangerously Happy. It is always a thrill to see previous characters show up and still be happy, even happier, than they were. They are absolutely beautiful in their moments they share with us. It was a real pleasure to spend time with them and they were a very gracious host to Carson. There is a love story here but it doesn’t happen immediately. They have a lot of baggage to work through but when they get there you will be smiling from ear to ear. I think it is also possible that by the end you will love Xavier just as much as Aidan and Dario.