Favorites of 2016 • "Recap" • Day 22 • Torn & Frayed (Another Gabriel Church Tale) by Rodd Clark + Giveaway

For the month of December, MM Book Escape, will be posting a recap of the books that TOOK ME AWAY. They are in no particular order and if you enter the giveaway and give me your favorite book of the year, or at least one that left an impact, and the book you've been dying to read, I will gift that book to you, plus the $10 Amazon gift card.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading from MM Book Escape!!

“Conscience isn’t something all people are born with . . .”

Gabriel Church is a portrait in contrast. It would be easy to get lost in his pale-blue eyes, ache with the need to feel the strength of his masculine frame. He appears to be nothing but animal and instinct. The only people who know the full depth of that truth are dead, murdered, or two thousand miles away.

Gabe is a serial killer. For the first time in his life, he has more on his mind than his own survival. This time he is running from Seattle to protect the only person he thinks innocent in his laundry list of crime and murder: Christian Maxwell, his biographer and unexpected lover. Drawn to a place he never thought to return, Gabe finds new and different realities. Realities that insist he let go of his tragic past, those incredible perceptions of God, and his own divinity. He must open his eyes to what the love of a good man can do to heal a broken soul.

But when the killer is confronted by his own willingness to love and sacrifice, he is forced to ultimately ask the question: Just how far will he go to save a life . . . when all he’s ever done is take them? 



I was excited to get back into the mind of Gabriel Church, and see where he has been since he left Christian Maxwell behind. The murder of Shea Baltimore was the catalyst that sent Gabe back on the run and left an almost despondent Christian in his rear view mirror to deal with the aftermath of that unexpected, and most regrettable, fateful act.

Torn and Frayed, by Rodd Clark takes the reader on an all-encompassing journey back to Gabe’s childhood as he reminisces about his life and what it may have been like had it went a different route or had different parents.

He remembers his Mother as someone weak, who wouldn’t stand up against her husband or fight for her child when he stood in the cross-hairs of his father’s wrath. He is—at times—disgusted by her behavior, but also feels sadness as he realizes the toll it has taken on her to stay with the devil, aka Bennett Church.

As Gabe drives from one destination to the next in his old Dodge pick-up he appears as though he doesn’t have a care in the world. I get the feeling he is surprised by his own musings that frequently lead him to Christian and the loss he feels with his absence.

I, also, get the impression that he finds himself in new territory to not only feel but to admit to his feelings that he may actually love Christian. No one, other than Chris, has ever came close to the real Gabriel and he admits to himself that he misses Christian more than he would have thought possible.

According to Gabe, in order to forget bad memories you need to make new ones. But, what used to come so easily has now become, almost impossible, as thoughts of Christian consume and plague his mind.

Leaving Christian behind was the right thing to do, according to Gabe, who was only looking out for Chris’ best interest. But, after weeks turn into months—with no contact, whatsoever—he becomes almost giddy with anticipation when he decides to end his desolation of solitude and call Christian.

Gabe likes to come across as unscathed by what he considers his celestial calling. It’s his duty, as he sees it, to kill the “white lighters.” Why else would he see them and the light that illuminates them. . .if not to kill? He’s always had a peaceful recollection of his life’s work, but something has changed with the murder of Shea Baltimore.

“He believed his Lord directed him to kill, and still believed Fate put every divine soul in his path to complete that cycle. He believed that his life and story had already been prewritten, that he was just running lines on stage, like a dress rehearsal before the opening.”
— Gabriel Church - Torn and Frayed

He can’t sleep because too many faces invade his conscience. He starts to doubt himself and ponders frequently with what-ifs. The scariest and alarming change of all, for this reader, is his predatory and all consuming mentality of taking lives outside of the “white-lighters.”

I had (past-tense) reasons to believe that he could possibly become a changed man and even to a certain point, feel regret for the lives taken by his hands. Now, I’m not sure if he can or if he even wants too.

With that said, I still believe it's possible for Gabriel to become a changed man, if not for himself then for Christian. I want Gabe to find peace and love and I think he can as long as Christian believes in him.

Christian Maxwell is a mess, plain and simple. Without Gabriel by his side he seems to have lost his footing. He comes across as almost obsessed with needing Gabe and losing whatever credibility he had as a responsible, successful and productive adult.

He misses Gabe immensely, however, he holds no ill-willed feelings towards him for leaving him behind. He understands Gabe more than anyone ever has. Of course, he’s the only person Gabe has ever confided in at this in-depth level, and through their earlier meetings when writing Gabe’s story was a likelihood, he became privy to the sins Gabriel had committed.

He sees behind the lies, the omission, and the deeper level that makes up Gabriel, and yet… he now seems not to care about any of his past. Or, maybe just more willing to ignore it. At first, Christian was—at the very least—concerned with Gabe’s acts of murder, but now I get the feeling that if he could run off with Gabriel, he would do so in a heartbeat.

Leaving his life, his work, and his family behind is something that Christian would do immediately if Gabriel said the words, "let’s go". I feel like Christian almost rejoices in these new feelings of being a rebel that Gabriel brings out in him.

Christian’s life without Gabe has become riddled with anxiety and he becomes panic stricken with thoughts of the police finding him. Even though he didn’t actually commit the murder of Shea Baltimore, he knows that Gabe’s actions were due to his jealousy and the verbal atrocities he spewed that fateful day. And, recently, he suffers from nightmares or visions his mind conjures up becoming almost delirious, at times,

At some point, someone is going to have to pay for that regretful moment of - act before you think. And, with the police closing in on Christian, his thoughts of fleeing are barreling down on him fast.

Seeing Gabriel, after two months without any contact, sets Christian’s world right again. He couldn’t have strolled back into Chris’ life at a more appropriate time.

Now that he’s back, Christian is more than willing to hand over his worries and fears to Gabe to smooth over and solve. Christian loves the feeling of Gabe being his protector, and is more than willing to let him handle the detective that has been calling.

Their reunion finds them frantic for contact and sex and Gabe tries to keep the details of his time away, to himself, by keeping Christian focused on their sexual rendezvous. Gabe has a plan and he’s not interested in sharing it with Christian. However, I believe Christian knows deep down Gabe’s intentions and accepts the consequences of his plan.

Before Gabriel – Christian’s ethics and morals knew right from wrong. Now, I’m not so sure what Christian believes. I think he believes in the power of Gabe, and as long as he can be with him that’s all that matters.

Will he continue to feel the same if Gabriel leaves him behind again? Will he pick up his life and try to get back on solid ground? I’m left with wondering when enough will be enough and if Christian would ever consider turning on Gabriel.

I don’t have any answers, yet as the book comes to a close leaving Christian in limbo as well as myself. I have many questions that have no answers but I’m positive the author will give them to us in due time.

I continue to be amazed by the author’s resourcefulness and ingenuity and I am fascinated by the way he narrates the story giving the reader an insight into the characters and surroundings that otherwise we may not see.

The Gabriel Church Tales are complex and intense and I experience many emotions as I read. Normally, I think most of us would want to see a killer get his penance for his wrongdoings. We want to see justice prevail and the families left behind get their closure.

Here’s where I say my feelings change because having an inside look at the mind and thought process of Gabe you have sympathy for his plight. But, that will only take a person so far—because without a doubt—Gabe is fucked up and I’m pretty sure fucked up he will stay. I would have said Christian was definitely the stable one between the two, but now. . .I’m not so sure.

I highly recommend this series and it's imperative you read them in order to fully understand the psychological thrill Rodd Clark is taking us on.