Man’s enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. – Lao Tzu
I must admit that I have been a fan of Ethan Stone’s for a long time. I have followed his career closely since the beginning. There is so much growth and maturity as a writer evident in his most recent effort, Past Tense. One thing has remained the same, though: Ethan writes men who rarely show a weak side. His men aren’t often romantic. They occasionally “make love”, but more often, they fuck. He is honest about anal sex being painful sometimes. There are rarely flowers and candles (unless being used in pain play), but occasionally proclamations of love.
In Past Tense, Jason Holt, a man from a different place with a different real name, hires private detective Quinn Reynolds to “kill” him. Someone from his old life has found him in Las Vegas. It turns out that that someone, Nic Demos is also after Quinn Reynolds.
In Jason’s former life he had experienced first love. It just happened to be the son of the head of the New York Mafia. And Jason just happened to witness said mobster murdering an undercover cop. After Jason testifies and the mob boss goes to jail and is killed , Jason’s lover’s brother promises to get revenge. This brother now also has a new name and home. He is Nic Demos and he lives in Las Vegas.
Ethan Stone deals very well with the growing attraction between Quinn and Jason. During the course of the investigation it comes out that Quinn’s “soul mate”, Liam died and that Jason looks remarkably like him. This resemblance first draws Quinn to Jason, but then he gets to know him and the resemblance all but disappears in his mind.
When Liam died, he left Quinn a cabin and some land which is part of a ranch owned by Liam’s family, the MacKennas. When Quinn decides it is time to take Jason away to hide at the cabin, the anticipated fireworks erupt. Jason has no family left, as Nic had killed them all years ago. Quinn has no blood family, but Liam’s family embraces him as one of their own.
When Quinn shows up with a man, and one who looks so much like Liam, it makes for an interesting meal. Ethan writes every family member’s reaction thoroughly and differently. As in life, some immediately loved Jason and one in particular; Kayla, the teenaged princess hated him. I have no idea how Ethan was able to write from the perspective of a nineteen year old girl so well (**grins**), but he did. And he made me understand why she felt the way she did and almost sympathize with her.
The MacKennas’ business turns out to be demon hunting. Now with Nic’s last name being Demos, I’m sure you didn’t see any of this coming. Nic’s family has long been affiliated with the dark side. To cement his power, he needs to make a sacrifice on the full moon. To further strengthen his power, he must kill an enemy. Enter Jason. He is kidnapped by one of Nic’s henchmen, Kyon, who dresses up as a BDSM dog. I know, Ethan has a very imaginative sense of humor.
While hidden away in Kyon’s dungeon awaiting the full-moon, in-between torture sessions, Jason discovers a strange talent. He can manipulate plants with his mind. Pretty handy because Kyon sure has a lot of plants in his dungeon.
Using his skill, Jason escapes the dungeon, then the grounds. There he plows into Quinn’s father and finds out that Quinn went in to rescue him and has been grabbed in his stead. I know! So much going on, so much excitement. Kept me on the edge of my chair.
Jason answers a call from Nic and offers himself in exchange for Quinn while I am screaming, “You moron, he isn’t going to trade, he’ll kill both of you!” Which he of course tries to do. Jason comes through with his plant manipulation (which we now know means he is a Terran). The MacKenna family comes through with their demon killing skills and everyone except the demons survives the battle.
Turns out Quinn has a “power” of some sort, too. When they make love or fuck or whatever word you prefer, wings appear on Quinn’s chest and sprout out his back. What the hell is that about and why are we just finding out about it? I certainly hope Ethan plans to write more about these guys, because I want to see where the end up next. Nic had a brother. Whatever happened to him…
Funny, adventurous, secret pasts, weird super-powers, manly men, bitchy little girls, Past Tense has it all. It is a fun thrill ride and I want to get in line to go on it again. Ethan, please, please, can I have another ride? Highly recommend this one!
Reviewed by: Tina