19 November 2014

This is Not a Love Story: the Hacker and His Hero by A.E. Lawless

 Ever since Gran’s death, Zander’s been using his skills as an elite computer hacker to help put criminals behind bars. Surprisingly enough, there’s also another vigilante running around his city helping folks out in the more traditional way. The press likes to pretend they’re rivals, but Zander likes to think that he and the Night Angel are working together; they want the same things at least.

When a tough case forces the two vigilantes to actually work together, Zander’s insistent fascination with the Night Angel becomes powerful attraction. It wouldn’t be a problem, except Zander’s also fooling around with his boss at the day job, Reese. They both give him something the other can’t, but both of them are also holding something he needs back from him. Zander knows he has to choose, but he just doesn’t see any way to make a good choice.

A break in the case reveals not only the master plot, but more about Zander’s true nature than he ever expected to learn. Afterwards, Zander is seeing the world in a new light and realizes he may not have to sacrifice anything he needs; he may not have to make a choice after all.
This is a smart, action packed, sexy thrill ride. There’s also a bit of super-hero tinge to it that doesn’t incorporate super powers, ala the ‘Batman’ vigilante angle. Zander, the hacker, doesn’t wear any goofy costumes, but does disguise his identity. Night Angel’s ‘costume’ comes across as more ninja-like and he’s also disguised. The allusion to the fantasy ‘Grand City’ being overrun with criminals also pays more than a passing homage to the Batman franchise.

The story begins with a tension filled sequence of trying to save an abducted child. While very well-written - and again, very smart – the build-up to the romance is a bit too drawn out for my tastes. If I’d been reading something like one of the Bourne novels, I would’ve been more on board with that approach. Even though the title suggests that this isn’t a romance, in truth it is. A hard won romance, but one nonetheless. There’s also a lot of fat that could’ve been trimmed in terms of inner dialogue and description. Sometimes it felt as if the same thing was being repeated, but in a slightly different way.

As the story develops, Zander and Night Angel are unwittingly drawn into a conflict where they both are forced to work together to save the day. This doesn’t seem to ruffle Zander’s feathers too much, since he also has a bit of a super-hero crush on Night Angel. In addition, as the action heats up, so does Zander’s illicit affair with his boss at his day job. There’s also a smidgen of D/s going on with their dynamic that I found very appealing and smokin’ hot.

In the course of this thrilling adventure and lusty sex, there’s a surprise reveal, which wasn’t much of a surprise to me – and I doubt it will be to most readers. The fun was more in watching vicariously as the characters figured it out.

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and I would happily read this author again. It could have used some tightening in the edits, but that might just be me. I would highly recommend this to readers who enjoy flawed heroes, lots of suspense, action and steamy man-on-man sex. This is a well-written, intelligent book that is most certainly a love story.


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