Book Reviews

Friendly Fire by Cari Z.

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 14-January-2020

Book Blurb

Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped.

Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.

But Elliott is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.

First edition published by Riptide Publishing, October 2016.

Book Review

“I cannot imagine that anyone who has come under fire in combat would describe the sensation as friendly – no matter who is pulling the trigger. ‘Friendly fire’ is the prime example of an institution's attempt to sanitise language to the extent that we know what a phrase is trying to tell us, yet reflect little on its actual meaning.”~ Saptarshi Ray (The Guardian)

Although he won’t admit it, Elliott McKenzie, of ‘Friendly Fire’ by Cari Z., needs a bodyguard. Five years after a crisis that could have ended his career and possibly his life, Elliot is back on top of the world. His business is about to have a fundraiser for a product that has great promise. Unfortunately, someone is determined to stop him. When Elliott’s PA suggests that he get a home security system, she also recommends the company that her brother-in-law, Lennox, works for. One look at Lennox, and a security system is not all that Elliot wants him to install.

Lennox West’s life is complicated. Time served in Afghanistan has left him with a severe case of PTSD. He is in counseling working his way through it, but the nightmares he has make him unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Even though he and his wife are divorced, Lenox wants to be there for his daughter, Lee, but, after an incident during one of his nightmares, he no longer feels comfortable with her staying with him overnight, until he is more stable. Lee feels rejected and angry over his decision. The fact that she is thirteen, a vulnerable age to begin with, doesn’t help. It is important to him to improve their relationship and Lennox is determined to do whatever he can to gain her approval.

Elliott doesn’t know what he expects when he meets with Lennox, but it certainly isn’t the tall, dark, and brooding man he gets. His reaction to Lennox is swift and visceral. He can hardly wait to get Lennox alone to see if he is willing to get to know him better. Elliott treads gently, but soon realizes that Lennox is receptive to his flirting and innuendos. Elliott hopes for more, and he gets it. They fall into bed, neither sure of where it will lead, but are surprised at the intensity of their encounter; both men have had problems with relationships in the past. Elliott opens up to Lennox about recent stalker-like incidents he has experienced. His disregard for the serious nature of the threats causes Lennox’s protective nature to kick in and he tries to convince Elliot to take action, but Elliott brushes him off. He is determined to wait until after the meetup he has planned with his company’s investors before doing anything. After a great night together, Elliott comes down to make breakfast, only to be greeted with a dead snake on his front porch. It upsets Elliott so badly that he makes a decision not to drag Lennox into his personal problems. After Lennox helps him dispose of the snake, instead of spending the day together as they had planned, Elliott sends Lennox away. Lennox is disappointed and even more worried about Elliott’s wellbeing, but, if he won’t let Lennox help him, there isn’t much he can do.

This is a complex story that has several subplots woven into the main action, leading to some surprises along the way. I really liked Elliot but thought he was too stubborn for his own good. I appreciated his desire to be reunited with his family, but worried that his lack of caution could have had a tragic ending. I especially liked the way he befriended Lee. Their interaction helped bridge the gap between her dad and Elliott as well as Lee and her dad. Lennox’s character was even more complicated with his PTSD and his attempts to juggle his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter. I admire him for how hard he tried. I think this would make a great action movie. I’d certainly pay to see it! Thanks, Cari, for a wild ride!





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 228 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 26-December-2019
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link