Order of The Black Knights
From Louisiana swamp rat to revivalist huckster to skilled con artist, Matthias Krall has spent his life clawing his way out of poverty, using his natural gifts of grift and manipulation to become the leader of an exclusive retreat center. Exploiting the guise of spiritual guru, Matthias seduces the rich and powerful into turning over their lives and fortunes to his control. But wealth and a small cadre of loyal followers can’t protect Matthias from the betrayal he knows is imminent. Everyone wants what Matthias has, except for one man who wants to destroy it. Dylan Connelly is a reporter who’s got Matthias’ number and is determined to prove the charismatic recluse is not only a fraud, but a murderer.
Irresistibly drawn to Dylan despite the warnings in his gut telling him the man is a threat, Matthias lures Dylan to his island retreat, determined to destroy the power his enemy holds over him once and for all.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Antihero, Enemies to Lovers, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Villain to Hero
Word Count: 79000
Setting: San Juan Island, WA
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Dylan looked away, fiddling with his glass again, thumbing away the condensation, wondering how to steer the conversation back to safer water. The swoosh of the door opening saved him.
He almost dropped the glass when none other than Matthias Krall walked in. Dylan had expected trumpets, fanfare, a bodyguard, but no. Matthias strolled in like any normal person. Only there was nothing normal about him. Terrance sprang to his feet and moved around the table, hands out.
“Matthias.” His grin could have lit up Safeco Field all on its own.
“Terrance.” Matthias’s smile wasn’t near the voltage of Terrance’s, but the look in his eye was one of pleasure. He took Terrance’s hands into his own. “Good to see you.”READ MORE
Damn, his words carried weight. What might have been a throwaway greeting from anyone else sounded like divine absolution on Matthias’s lips. Dylan felt invisible as the two men shared some sort of silent bond. Terrance was dead wrong about one thing. Matthias did believe in emotional bondage, to him alone.
Dylan took a quick sip of water, grateful for the respite that gave him a chance to absorb Matthias’s presence before having to interact with him. The word striking might have been invented to describe Matthias. The years had refined and hardened his aristocratic features rather than softening them. His blue eyes gleamed like sapphires, set off by his dark complexion and raven-black hair. He was as lean and powerful-looking as ever, maybe more so. He’d folded up his shirtsleeves, revealing thin copper bracelets on each wrist. Dylan was a sucker for bling that accentuated the elegant lines of the masculine form. On Matthias, the sight sent a shot of adrenaline directly into Dylan’s libido.
I’m doomed, he thought and gulped more water. He tried to rearrange the neutral, wide-eyed expression he’d been working on.
He stood just as Matthias broke eye contact with Terrance and turned to face him. Dylan cursed his heart for suddenly deciding he must be under attack and needed extra blood pumped to his extremities.
Terrance followed Matthias’s gaze almost as if he’d forgotten anyone else was in the room. Maybe he had.
“Matthias, this is Dylan Connelly. Dylan, meet Matthias Krall.”
Dylan stepped around the table and reached out to shake Matthias’s hand. Matthias languidly released Terrance, even though his gaze was now locked on Dylan. His hand clasped Dylan’s, and the heat of his touch almost made Dylan gasp. Luckily he was able to stuff this honest reaction down and simply smile.
“Have we met?” Matthias asked.
“Um,” Dylan said, stunned by this conversational bomb. At least acting dumb was no challenge.
“I never forget a face,” Matthias said. He squeezed Dylan’s hand and released it. Dylan’s palm tingled, but at least his pulse was recovering from the initial surge. How to play this? Could he really act like he didn’t remember? No chance.
“University of Washington,” he said, giving in to the inevitable.
Matthias’s beautiful eyes continued to soak him in, but his expression was neutral, as if they had no past. Maybe in Matthias’s view, they didn’t. After all, nothing came of it.
Then a slow, lazy smile spread across Matthias’s face. “Ah, yes. I remember now.”COLLAPSE
This is a utterly and completely different from the first book. Where the first book upset me (even though the writing was great) this book had me sitting here biting my nails unable to put it down. I was on pins and needles waiting to find out where the story was going. They were both playing a game and both winning yet losing at the same time. Right when I thought Dylan would one up Matthias, Matthias would turn it around to come out on top. Then it would flip and Dylan was on top (no pun intended).
How these men would eventually recover from all the deceit and mind f*#%s, I had no clue. I wasn't sure if this could actually end up a HEA or even HFN (don't worry, perfect ending). I have to commend Alexis Duran because this story truly sucked me in and wouldn't let go. As much as I wanted to put it down, I just couldn't.
I loved Dylan and at times wanted to choke him. I adored Matthias and, of course, there were times I wanted to throat punch him. But these two men were definitely a great pair. Their distrust of the other was actually quite comical at times because when it all came to a head, they trusted each other above all others. They were great together.
I am definitely a fan of this series and recommend it for sure!