“Some rules are nothing but old habits that people are afraid to change.” ― Therese Anne Fowler
Taylor V. Donovan’s Six Degrees of Lust is a novel that’s part murder mystery and part relationship mystery, with a heavy emphasis on the relationship and even more on the mystery of how Sam Shaughnessy and Mac O’Bannon are ever going to overcome the stop-sticks they keep throwing in the road they’re traveling toward something that could be more than the carefully planned sex-without-strings arrangement they’ve mapped out. Only time will tell.
There’s a serial killer on the loose, and he’s systematically preying on young gay men in several states. If he can’t save these sinners from an eternity in Hell, he’ll gladly speed along the process in getting them there to save the world from their evil ways. This killer has a pattern, means, mode, and plenty of psychologically radical motives to justify raining judgment and retribution down upon the unholy predators who prey on other men, and it’s up to Sam and his crack team of agents with the New York Federal Bureau of Investigations to find the killer and bring him to justice.
Mac has some problems of his own to solve, as well, namely that he’d made a promise to his family five years earlier to stay in the closet for the sake of his father’s small town Texas political career. Years of pretending to be straight has taken its toll on Mac, who’s been hiding his sexuality from his best friends, and had spent years in a secret relationship with a closeted man who treated Mac like a dirty secret rather than a boyfriend. Now that the agreement Mac had made is set to expire in a matter of just a few short months, he’s counting down the days to living his life as a proud and openly gay man, while his family is busy reneging on their end of the bargain and trying to get Mac to give up the “phase” he’s going through so he can settle down with a nice woman and spare them the humiliation of having a gay son.
A chance meeting between Sam and Mac in the airport—Mac on his way into New York City, Sam on his way out—creates a few sparks. That is, if you can call it a spark when a lit match is introduced to a puddle of gasoline. A split second decision by the very emotionally unavailable Sam to give Mac a business card and an invitation for a hook-up leads to one of the most complicated beginnings to whatever it is they’re trying to build that I’ve ever read.
Six Degrees of Lust is an ensemble piece, which means that while Sam and Mac are the main protagonists in this installment of the series, they’re supported by a huge cast of players, including one who’s a cold-blooded, self-righteous killer, as well as those who have the potential to become the main characters in their own novels as this series moves forward. I was highlighting names on my Kindle like crazy as I was reading, because with as many people as were being introduced, I wasn’t sure until I’d finished who was going to be significant and who wasn’t. Well, guess what? I’m still not sure to some degree, because, although I could guess, I still don’t know who the killer is! Yes, Taylor V. Donovan’s thrown in some clues to decipher, but has offered a few likely suspects, so the serial killer is still on the loose and is free to continue terrorizing young, blond, and beautiful gay men well into the next book.
Sam’s carrying some significant baggage since the loss of his child and the end of a marriage gone horribly wrong, which is the linchpin of all his emotional hang-ups and the reason he doesn’t give anything of himself, or want anything from anyone in return. Until Mac, that is, a man whose skills at negotiating and navigating Sam’s moods and masks is slowly causing the agent to begin bending and outright breaking some of his own carefully constructed boundaries.
Patience. That’s what this book and series takes, patience. Don’t expect hearts and flowers romance, don’t expect everything to be neat and tidy by the end of this book. Do expect some steamy smexy bits, though, and to find yourself guessing at every turn who the killer is. Do expect to wonder whose books will be coming up next, too. I know I am. Also expect to ask yourself why is a young androgynous boy a significant cog in this machine, and will Sam and his team catch this psychopath before he has the chance to kill again?
I trust Taylor V. Donovan to know where she’s going from here and to get me there one clue at a time. I’m anxious to see where she’s taking me next.
**And as an addition, Taylor has written a free ficlet called 60 Percent Proof that gives in a little added detail to something very significant that happens in Sam and Mac’s relationship. Definitely don’t read this before you’ve read the book, but most definitely read it after.**
Reviewed by: Lisa