Aftershock

Cover for Aftershock by Tanya Chris features a despondent man in front of a NYC cityscape
Part of the Ever After series:

Being acquitted of Jamie’s murder won’t bring him back. Syed might be free, but he’s lost his lover and his sub, along with his sense of control, his libido, his friends, and the stomach to inflict the kind of pain Jamie thrived on. Even his high-rise apartment doesn’t suit him anymore.

Dashiell is drawn to the handsome man he represented in court, but he’s promised himself never to get involved with another confident playboy. His next boyfriend—if he can find such a thing—will see him as something more than a backup plan for a better offer. And how could he ever give a man like Syed what he wants anyway?

Dashiell fears the day Syed will ask him to bear more pain than he can handle as Syed struggles to reconcile how he’s coming to feel about Dashiell with how he still feels about Jamie. Can their fledgling relationship survive the discovery that Syed’s new sub might be representing the man who murdered his last sub?

Jamie deserves justice, Dashiell deserves love, and Syed wants to be the one to give both these men exactly what they need.

Content warning: this book includes descriptions of homophobic hate crimes. There is very mild BDSM content.

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Publisher: Tanya Chris
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Excerpt:

Frustrated by the console separating them, Syed sat back for a moment. Dashiell was too tall to pull into his lap, and the heated seats made the car warm, almost sultry. He tugged at the knot of his tie to loosen it.

“I knew you’d be in a suit.” Dashiell reached for the knot of his own tie.

“I wouldn’t have minded if you’d been dressed casually. If I’d cared, I’d have spelled it out for you.” He didn’t play mind games. What his sub needed to know, he told him. Not that he claimed Dashiell as his sub yet, but even a date deserved that courtesy. “Though you do look very nice.”

He traced up the inseam of Dashiell’s slacks, cut more narrowly than he wore his own, stopping before he reached the hard length that stretched across to Dashiell’s hip. He put his hands under Dashiell’s knees and separated them, showcasing the bulge of his balls in the tight cocoon of fabric. “Very nice.”

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“You’re sure you don’t want to come up?”

“I won’t take the risk of letting you down tonight. From now on, you’ll know how much I want whatever we do.” He leaned over again to nibble at the dimple in Dashiell’s chin.

“Do you really want me though? Or is it just that I’m a safe person to test yourself with? Comfortable.”

“Believe me, the way I feel about you is anything but comfortable. I feel too much, not too little.” He traced his thumb over the graceful arc of Dashiell’s prominent cheekbone. “You make me think of warmth, of sunny places and bright colors. Your family is Greek, yes?”

“My grandparents came from Greece. My father’s parents. My mother isn’t Greek.”

“But you are.”

Dashiell’s beauty was masculine without being hard, his features chiseled but delicate, his mahogany curls an untamed splendor.

“I can imagine you against a white beach. How brown would you get in the sun?” He stroked over the skin that called to mind warm breezes and lazy mornings.

“I’ve never had a chance to find out,” Dashiell said petulantly. “Work, work, work.”

He wanted to keep Dashiell like a spoiled plaything—let him bathe in the ocean and tan on a beach and never worry about another thing, wanted to come home to find him soft and laughing and nearly naked, brown with the sun and hot with need.

He took his hands off Dashiell’s body. He was doing it again—thinking too far forward. That was what made being with Dashiell so uncomfortable, that ache in his chest when thoughts of Dashiell intruded into areas where only Jamie belonged.

“I should let you go. You said you have a big case.” He smoothed his thumb over Dashiell’s pout. “I’ll call you.”

“You mean you’ll have Bhupati call me.”

“Is that a problem?”

“No, it’s fine.”

“Good. He keeps me on track. I wouldn’t know where I was going if it weren’t for him.”

“I doubt that. You seem like a highly organized person.”

“Well, perhaps so, but trust me when I say that I’ll see you sooner and more reliably if I allow him to arrange the details. And that’s what I want—to see you soon. It’s what you want also, yes?”

Dashiell let out a small yes, and Syed took him by the upper arms to kiss him one last time, a simple touch of mouth to mouth, a promise that next time there’d be more. He watched to make sure Dashiell made it safely through the security door on the other side of the lobby before putting his car in gear.

It’d been a successful date, he thought. Not more than his heart could handle. When he got home, perhaps he could think of Dashiell when he took himself in hand. Perhaps his thoughts wouldn’t drift elsewhere tonight.

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Reviews:loveQhuay on Amazon wrote:

So I started to read this book, and the next thing I know? It's dark outside and I should be sleeping. But then what? I'll go to sleep after one more chapter... lol!

I couldn't put it down, it was so good! Better then the first, better then the third, better then anything!

Kathleen on Amazon wrote:

This story is one of the best I've read as far as watching a relationship develop and seeing characters stretch and grow. Both characters have some major hurdles to overcome and both do so in such beautiful ways. Dashiell is just adorable. He really is.

dagio on Amazon wrote:

This is an incredibly moving book. It looks at several different facets of a relationship, of grief, of societal expectations and much more. Tanya Chris did an amazing job weaving all of the components together into a masterpiece.

The character development is intense. The level of complexity the author is able to use is perfect. She really poured her heart and soul into these characters. Syed and Dashiell may have been primary but I loved the fact the author gave that same attention to secondary characters as well. The world building was flawless; the author did an excellent job creating vivid imagery. Between both the depth of characters and the world building, it felt like I was right there.


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