Lines in the Sand by Lyn Gala
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Full Length (160 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus
Three years ago, Carl Ragar turned on the mob. His conscience couldn’t handle the murder of an innocent bystander, and he had to turn his back on his mentor, Petroc “Pete” Barbu, a man he’d admired and lusted after. Pete made no apologies for his job as an enforcer, but he’d never planned to get himself or Carl involved in the murder of a reporter. When Carl turned state’s evidence, Pete couldn’t even pretend to be surprised.
Now Pete’s still on the run, and Carl is unceremoniously dumped out of witness protection. Two men tangled in their own pasts, they will have to face the shifting moral lines in the sand that drove them to make disastrous choices. Once Pete and Carl were partners who trusted each other with their lives—now they’re struggling to save their souls.
Is it wrong to kill if you only kill bad guys? That’s the moral dilemma ex-mob driver Carl and ex-mob hit man Pete grapple with south of the border. Carl thinks Pete is there to kill him after ratting out the mob, including Pete, yet Pete has a few other ideas in store. Carl goes to work for Pete in his car repair shop in Mexico but the sexual tension between the two doesn’t die down. If anything after three years apart the sparks are flying quick and heavy. The two men must come to terms with their past before they can have a chance at a future.
Lines in the Sand deals with the moral gray area of flawed characters. As former criminals both Carl and Pete have a different set of morals and guidelines. They each have reasons for their crimes, some good and some not so good but they evaluate just what their limits really are in this story. For example Pete feels no guilt over killing men he sees as bad men, while Carl accepts that he got into the mob because he wanted the money and the recognition. He wanted to be someone while Pete felt he was choosing the best of the worst options. Due to the focus on such internal and private dilemmas, much of the story takes place within thoughts. Both men spend most of their time silently debating their past and present and where it stands on their sliding moral scale.
The characterization is the key to making this a successful story and I think both men are three dimensional and very real. They’re definitely not average heroes but their personalities are vibrant and interesting and the overarching question of morality keeps the story moving. There is very little to the story outside of the question of both men and how they will handle their past and future since the story is set in an isolated garage in Mexico. Both Pete and Carl share narrating duties and it’s nice to see how each responds, usually differently, to the same memory or event. Both change and grow over the course of the story, becoming perhaps different men or different shades of the same men.
Fans of this author are likely to be the main audience but those new to her writing may appreciate the unique qualities afforded here. The story is interesting and deals with characters and situations not often tackled in romance, which is enough to draw some readers. Others may like the clean writing and descriptive, yet not verbose, prose. Overall, Lines in the Sand is a very enjoyable story that tackles some of the lesser used themes in romance.