Title: Bad Influence
Author: K.A. Mitchell
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Characters: Silver, Zeb
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
To remake their future, they’ll have to use pieces of their broken past.
Bad in Baltimore, Book 4
The young man the world knew as Jordan Barnett is dead, killed as much by the rejection of his first love at his moment of greatest need, as by his ultra-conservative parents’ effort to deprogram the gay away.
In his place is Silver, a streetwise survivor who’s spent the last three years learning to become untouchable…unless you’re willing to pay for the privilege. He shies away from anything that might hold him down long enough for betrayal to find him again.
Zebediah Harris spent time overseas, trying to outrun the guilt of turning his back on the young man he loved. Now, almost the moment he sets foot back in Baltimore, he discovers Silver on a street corner in a bad part of town. His effort to make amends lands them both in jail.
Trapped together in a cell, Silver sits on his mountain of secrets and plans a seductive form of revenge, but finds that using a heart as a stepping stone is no way to move past the one man he can’t forgive, let alone forget.
I’m something a fan of K.A. Mitchell’s books, but Bad in Baltimore series is a bit inconsistent in quality. The first, Bad Company, was so-so. I liked the second, Bad Boyfriend, the best. This one, Bad Influence, has a huge problem with unlikeable characters. They are strong personalities, no question of that, but I just couldn’t get the attraction. Not on any level.
Silver had a really bad coming out. He was in his teens, having an affair with an older man, Zeb, who was really religious. When Silver’s bigoted parents threw him out, he went to Zeb for shelter. But Zeb turned him away, which lead to Silver living on the streets as a prostitute until he got HIV. And this was pretty much the point where I lost sympathy and interest. Not in the HIV aspect, which does not exclude romance if handled well, but because I despised Zeb so much. Because we are not given his POV in the story, that view does not change. And Silver’s life experiences have made him so cynical and jaded I honestly couldn’t fathom why he would still, after everything, cling to Zeb. It made absolutely no sense for me, no matter how many times it was explained. And Silver takes some getting used to for sure.
This story is well-written, with strong characters you get to know extremely well. Silver is the POV man, while Zeb remains hard to get a handle on. He is very religious and seems to show very little remorse at turning a homeless teenager from his door because he wasn’t ready to come out as gay. In essence, Zeb chose religion and the closet over the safety and well-fare of his secret lover. That speaks of callousness and ego that leaves little room for love. Though Silver does not blame Zeb for sending him to the streets where he ultimately contracted HIV, I couldn’t get past it. But… you will be pleased to hear these men do develop, not only their emotions, but their conduct. The scene where Zeb finds out Silver has HIV was particularly well done, potent and gut-wrenching.
The pace is a bit on the sluggish side, and I jumped sections that didn’t seem to go anywhere or advance the plot. K.A. Mitchell is an intriguing author, with complex storylines, efficient writing, and realistic, sometimes very unusual and even despicable characters. This story just didn’t click with me. As I didn’t care for either main character, the romance was wasted on me. I didn’t get the attraction at all. Sorry. Nonetheless, this is standard K.A. Mitchell quality, so do give this one a go.
Reviewed By: Susan