NEW RELEASE REVIEW: Semblance by Chris E. Saros

Author: Chris E. Saros
Book: Semblance
Page/Word Count: 230 pages, 81K words
Categories: Mystery & Suspense, Gay Romance
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Drake isn’t looking for justice. He’s not interested in doing what’s right. He’s after one thing and one thing only: revenge. That means taking down the Boredega drug cartel—and the shadowy, seemingly invincible man who heads it—even if he goes down with them.

Drake plans to destroy the cartel from within, and he uses his nightclub, Semblance, as a front for money laundering and drug trafficking. He’s sacrificed almost everything to complete his mission, and just as he’s getting close, he’s derailed by flirtatious bartender Scotty, who offers Drake a glimpse of the happiness he’s missed by pursuing a personal vendetta. Scotty might be irresistible, but Drake has come too far to turn back now. He’ll have to find a way to keep Scotty safe, fend off persistent prostitute Natasha, feed tips to the authorities, and edge his way closer to the upper echelon of the cartel, where he can finally strike. He’ll need to do it all while keeping his intentions covert—and he’s not the only one at Semblance with secrets.

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4.5✨s – This seems to be a debut novel for the author and I’m impressed by the original premise, plot and the kick-butt action and suspense! Semblance is a nightclub owned by Drake, providing a fairly dark, gritty setting as a front for criminal activities. Drake has spent years focused on vengeance against a dangerous cartel, acting as a solo undercover operative with single-minded purpose. He’s gotten his hands dirty a few times but does try to do the right thing when he can. Being the club owner, he’s held himself back from pursuing Scott, flirting back and forth for months, until finally, his resistance fails. Afterwards, realizing the potential danger, he pushes Scott away again. As circumstances in the club worsen, they’re drawn together once more when Drake’s world implodes.

Written in third person, the story unfolds entirely from Drakes POV, until the epilogue. I suppose some parts of the plot could be called predictable but it plays out differently than I might have expected. There’s not a huge cast of characters so it’s a surprise to find who’s been flying under the radar. The pace is fast-moving, once the opening chapters set the scene and put the characters in place. The steam is moderate but I’d like to have seen just a little more of the previous interactions between Scott and Drake. A few plot threads were left dangling, with incomplete answers to who was ultimately behind the criminal enterprise.

I was not thrilled with the ending contained in the epilogue, which was unexpected in its execution. There isn’t an HEA and to me, just barely qualifies as an HFN. I think a sequel is called for, to give a chance to see Scott and Drake as an actual couple, but there’s no hints yet. I would nonetheless recommend this one strongly for the engaging plot and compelling suspense.

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About Chris E. Saros:
Chris E. Saros lives in the beautiful Mitten State, surrounded by the exhilaration of the Great Lakes. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, ministering to her cats’ needs, and watching TV. An avid traveler, she loves immersing herself in different cultures, discovering new foods, and meeting new people. Always game for a new adventure, she covets stimulating experiences such as working on locally filmed movies, coaching students in after-school activities, and spending time spoiling and sugaring-up her nieces and nephew to keep her status as “the fun aunt.” Though ideally an optimist, Chris E. is intrigued by the darkness life has to offer. Using writing as an outlet for her darker nature, she loves constructing characters and tossing them into dangerous situations, just to see what happens.

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