Bloody but Unbowed

Herc's Mercs

by Ari McKay

Daryl Greer isn’t a bodyguard. He’s Hercules Security’s “odd-job” specialist, as wild and dangerous as he is competent. Fiercely independent, he resents his older brother Matthew’s view that he spends his life “playing G.I. Joe”. When he’s sent to rescue a kidnapped scientist, Dr. Emerson Winfield, from a terrorist organization, Daryl finds himself attracted to the snarky, outspoken man even though Emerson is the kind of rich, successful person Matthew claims could never be interested in a hick like Daryl.

For his part, Emerson doesn’t care about Daryl’s lack of polish; he’s more interested in the incredible chemistry between them. He sets out to prove to Daryl that they can make a relationship work despite their differences. But Daryl’s defensiveness about his career drives a wedge between them -- and if he doesn’t find a way to deal with his issues, Daryl might lose Emerson forever.

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Reviews: Moon Rose Reviews on Amazon wrote:

From jumping out of low-flying planes to riding on top of moving trucks with nuclear bombs inside, Bloody But Unbowed shifts effortlessly back and forth from high-octane action to high-octane sex.

Delivering just the right balance of character building, conflict, setting details, and overall depth, this story is complete and satisfying at only approximately 140 pages.

Meridian Astrodynamics, is of the fastest growing tech firms in Raleigh. When one of their valuable American scientist gets kidnapped by a violent terrorist group with an anti-technology communist agenda, they reach out to Hercules Securities for help. Thankfully, Hercules Securities has just the right man for the extraction job: Daryl “D-Day” Greer, a not-so honorably discharged military expert who knows how to kill, shoot from grenade launchers, and play a hot game of poker.

Bloody But Unbowed is not the typical homoerotic novella. The characters don’t speak or act like women, albeit in male bodies. There’s no extreme of an overly masculine partner with an overly feminine one. The realistic erotic scenes are appreciated with their convincing foreplay, healthy communication of needs and desires, and condom use.

The main characters Daryl “D-Day” Greer, the best black-ops man Hercules Securities has and Dr. Emerson Winfield, a Nobel Peace Prize worthy scientist are both independent, strong-willed, witty, and devoted to their jobs and the fulfillment their careers bring to their respective lives.

After the story’s climax, there’s a peculiar exchange between Mathew, Daryl’s older brother and Daryl’s lover, Emerson. The conversation is a curious one as Matthew reveals secrets and vulnerabilities to Emerson; a man that from our perspective, Matthew has never previously met. Yet, he shared secrets that he hasn’t shared with his own brother, whom we know he cares about yet struggles to connect with.

The overdone verbalizations of love and caring that take place in this scene are unnecessary. The author has already done a powerful job of ensuring we know who cares for whom and how much. The contrived conversation pulls downs the rock-solid dialog and realness of the story that benefited the previous pages. Some of this dialog although needless, are likely to satisfy those readers who need to actually hear the characters say how they feel even though the author flawlessly lets their character’s actions speak loud, clear, and on-point with their respective personalities.
Despite this head-scratcher, Bloody But Unbowed is solid in those places where it matters the most. The offbeat scene between Matthew and Emerson serves as the catalyst for the post-breakup reunion between Daryl and Emerson.

These two men have an opposites-attract chemistry that have you rooting for them from the first page to the last. By the time you get to the end of this short novel, there’s a meaningful ending that feels just right, but you can’t help but immediately shoot back to the previous pages to re-enjoy some of your favorite, sizzling parts.

Keep in mind that Bloody But Unbowed has some rough language and violence. Enemies are killed and people get shot. Bones are broken. Daryl and Emerson also “talk dirty” to each other during their sexual encounters that usually include the use of adult bedroom toys. This isn’t to say that the book is all rough and tough. There are sincere moments of tenderness and love harmonized with the aforementioned that really make this story and the writing special.

This book reads like a romantic action-adventure film with all the right elements to keep you turning the page. Daryl and Emerson are the type of characters with the type of relationship that you want more of. Although this is their only story thus far, the author has given us the gift of a full line of enticing stories of bodyguards, mercenaries, and para-military based romances in their contemporary Herc’s Mercs Series.

About the Author

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

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