Book Reviews

Sweet Hart (Hart Consulting 1) by Rae Marks at Pride Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Agents/Spies / Military/Former Military / Erotic Romance / BDSM / Action/Adventure / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 18-January-2022

Book Blurb

When Brayden stumbles into a covert operation, Sam has to keep him alive. Together they navigate their unexpected attraction and the world of the Ukrainian mafia.

Brayden Hart needs to find his older brother Mason and time is running out. Mason disappeared after being discharged from the military two years before. While on leave from the army, Bray follows a lead his friend has been able to find. When he knocks on the door of a dingy apartment outside Miami, the last person he expects to meet is the gorgeous but grumpy Sam Wheeler.


Sam denies knowing Bray's brother and turns him away. But Sam is Bray's only lead. Luckily, Bray's childhood friend is one of the best hackers in the country and helps Bray follow Sam to Ukraine.


In Kiev, Bray falls blindly into the fray of a covert operation and Sam steps in to keep him alive. While navigating the choppy waters of the Ukrainian mafia, Bray and Sam fall into the bedroom. But what happens when the mission ends?


Reader advisory: This book contains references to historical rape, child sexual abuse and sex trafficking. There are also scenes of violence.

Book Review

Why do reviewers take time and effort to express opinions on books for the Rainbow Book Review site? Truth be told, the answer is likely somewhere between an exercise in ego (often camouflaged as “educating”) and some drive to Talmudically posit our own perceived truths. The commonalities, of course, seems ego driven. Nonetheless, I find myself occasionally referring to other gay book sites, seeking either clarifying remarks when I am confused, or merely to assess what perceptions other readers have put forward. Sadly, I suspect that while the extant plethora of rave comments may be due to many happy readers being moved to record comments, more likely they are attributable to secret cabals, underground factions of authors’ relatives, and perhaps even frequent “pay for view” professionals.


So, now rising to RBR’s elevation of honest commentary, let me address ‘Sweet Hart’, an odd but enjoyable commitment of my failing light with this genre. We are engaged in an opaque mystery, almost in the form of a spy thriller, though the initially sparse and cloudy backstory means it is never clear whether the heroes are members of our government - military (the latter clearly a touchstone in their backgrounds). Rae Marks creates an appropriate atmosphere, though providing nearly every character with a cutesy generic nickname, didn’t help me keep track of them! These personae are often barely developed functionaries of slight importance, such as Bray’s friend, a computer genius assisting Bray as he searches for his long-departed brother, Mason, twelve years his senior – though the basis for their fraternal estrangement is not satisfactorily delineated until much later in the book. Nor is it made clear why Bray’s path to Mason is through Sam, an attractive, domineering, and daring secret agent who, incidentally, is presented sexually as the owner of a “Golden Heinie”. He’s an anulphobic (try using that at ScrabbleTM), meaning one whose posterior parts are so special as to be almost sacredly untouchable! Poor Sam. His emotional issues explain why he only “had sex when he couldn’t hold out anymore”. [Aside: I abhor sexism, but ‘Sweet Hart’ concentrating on the anus – kissing, touching, Lord knows what else, makes me wonder whether that is more apt to be the product of a distaff writer whose familiarity with the almighty prostate may be only theoretical.]


Sometimes I wonder if cinema would offer greater clarity for this genre, but never mind, since the thriller portion of the novel generates increasing acuity as it eventually metamorphoses into a fine work of erotica. Have faith, these oblique lines will converge – to the benefit of the publisher’s purse!


Welcome to a relatively simple but entertaining novel. ‘Dash’, book two in Rae Mark’s ‘Hart Consulting’ series (together with my piquant critique), much as with a hormonal adolescent, will be coming soon.


Grand aside: With tongue in cheek (surely only the facial one) let me note that while the many emphatically positive public reviews may likely have been encouraged by a few meager and well-placed gratuities, the basic editorship of ‘Sweet Hart’ assuredly must have been a prank gift. Since the original publication date is several months in the past, I had assumed that a rabid gathering of grammatically offended readers would have stormed the Rae Marks’ household - clamoring for textual and stylistic amendations. While none of the syntactic errors are offensive to the plot, nor did they derogate from my enjoyment, there remains a difference between just writing a mystery and writing mysteriously (i.e., muddy vs. muddled). But here are a few, just for your further pleasure:


1. “Though he wouldn’t call himself a natural follower, the idea of being told what to do have never done it for Bray until now.”


2. “He was just as sure the men in the car with him were looking for a reason to kill him.”


3. “I might deserve pancakes as a reward for putting up him.” (?)


4. “Mase excused himself and Yulia down the hallway.” (?)


5. “Can’t wait to see what you taste like.” (Me: How about hearing what he smelled like, too?)


None of the author’s quirky sentences should come as a surprise, given that the publisher, Pride Publishing, is British, and therefore uses a foreign language!




DISCLAIMER: Book reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Pride Publishing for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 321 pages/79903 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 11-May-2021
Price $5.99 ebook, $13.50 paperback
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