“Hello, Benjamin.” Once again Nikolas Mikklesen had me at Hello! Those simple words of greeting always hide layers of malevolence, possession, Love…sexy and creepy at the same time!
‘Deaths Ink black Shadow” wasn’t the ‘in your face’ bloodbath I was expecting. The contents were not as horrific as past books and I see more as book 5.1 rather than book 6. It was another prelude. Nikolas Mikklesen wasn’t in full kill mode. Nikolas Mikklesen was waiting, biding his time, playing a game of chess.
The story is layered with subtle manoeuvrings and strategies that will take a second read to fully get my head around. A lot went on behind the scenes, between the lines. Nik was attempting to clear his chess board so that there were no targets left for his enemies to take out. So most of his focus was on pushing the love of his life away. Some of the things he did were shocking, for instance raping Ben. Some may argue that it was just rough sex, (and Nik believes consent can never be revoked) yet Ben stated that he withdrew his consent and Nik still had rough dry sex with him. I was horrified.
And then the ‘cheating’ episode! My heart broke for Ben and Nik. Ben, because his world fell apart and he believed his heart had been stamped on, and Nik because he believed that the ‘cheating set up’, the worst thing he could ever do, was necessary to protect the one he loved. Nik would rather Ben hated him than be dead. So, weighed down with love and fear Nikolas Mikklesen was never at his full strength in this book. He wore the façade of night and day. The loving, generous partner, whose life had been altered by love, and then the secretive, cold blooded, remote Nikolas from the past, who would do anything to protect those he loved.
I found it curious that Nik surrounded himself with children- Molly, Emillia and the adorable Miles Toogoode, as if they were the barrier between his true dark heart and the world. I loved that Nik couldn’t help but love Ben’s daughter Molly and encouraged Ben to bond with her. And yet he couldn’t feel the same love for his long lost son. In Stefan he saw the reflection of his dead brother and knew in his heart the boy had been tainted by association- tainted by the fact the man who had abuse him as a child and passed him around like a fuck toy was his son’s grandfather. Stefan had no chance. Stefan’s demise was hilariously morbid. I could not help myself laughing out loud.
I adore John Wiltshire’s writing style. I love the way he weaves prose and the sweetest of sex scenes into one ‘mind fuck’ of a story. I loved how he snuck in the explanation for the title of the book into a sex scene. Beautifully done.
“Nikolas murmured ‘Did you know that pound for pound the human body gives out more heat than the sun? We burn, Benjamin.” Ben flipped them, now on top, friction increasing the burn. ‘We always have.’ ”
But most of all I love that Nik and Ben are a couple who have endured 10 years together…been to hell and back, found moments of love, peace and perfection in the spaces between. No matter how much pain and loss, still these men find their way back to each other; still they burn for each other. There are scenes in this book of blistering sex and tenderness, where the language is just breathtaking. Moments of incredible sweetness between two men who, at their cores are trained killers with a trail of bodies behind them.
I was pleased that eventually Nik realised he underestimated Ben. Throughout the book I felt Nik had lost sight of Benjamin. He saw Ben as a vain, pretty, trophy boyfriend, someone who needed to be protected. But Ben turned the tables on Nik and Nikolas saw that Ben was actually the weapon he needed. He remembered the man he had fallen in love with and that when they combine their skills they are unstoppable.
As per usual with this series, there were so many unanswered questions. I for one don’t believe the true enemy has been seen yet. So to me there is more to come…this book was the shadow, the prelude to something darker and in the next book Nik’s true enemy will step out into the light. And Nik and Ben will face it together.