Review: Aftershock (Ever After #2) by Tanya Chris

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.

Aftershock could potentially be read as a stand alone but I wouldn't recommend it since characters from Aftercare make appearances and parts of the story carries over.

At its heart this story, and this series, is about rebuilding oneself in the wake of loss and one I've thoroughly enjoyed. Syed and Dashiell's romance is quieter in ways than Aayan and Garrett's was; it didn't feel as frenzied. But it was no less moving.

Syed is still reeling from Jaime's murder. He was shunned by friends due to the circumstances of his murder and Jaime's family for their shared proclivities. His brother has found the love of his life and he's never had the best relationship with his parents due to his being gay.

In the face of all this upheaval and without Jaime he struggles to define himself.

Dashiell was a member of his legal team and has a crush on Syed. Dashiell also has some baggage of his own in the form of a wretched ex. Dashiell's self-image and self-worth took a beating from that douche-mcgouche making him primed for some TLC.

They start off slow. Dating. Getting to know each other with a simmering attraction between them that slowly gains steam.

I really have to tip my hat to Tanya Chris for the panache she's demonstrated in depicting the characters in this series and their struggle to not only rebound but make sense of their feelings. This trope can be hit or miss for me if enough gravitas isn't given to the lost love. I have a tendency to lose interest in the narrative when the previous relationship is minimized. Tanya Chris has taken the time to show how much Syed and Garrett have grappled with their feelings.

Their relationship feels organic in the way it evolved. I love that they build something together that is wholly different from what Syed had with Jaime. Jaime was a masochistic sub and Syed met his needs. Dashiell is submissive who wants to serve and please. One would think there would be a hole where Syed's sadistic needs weren't being fulfilled but Syed is primarily a dominant who can't seem to stomach impact play subsequent to Jaime's death. He has always derived the most pleasure and satisfaction from D/s. So, if you're expecting loads of kink, this might be a miss for you. There is D/s that Dashiell is new to, so no high protocol stuff and one bondage scene. I love lots of kink especially impact play but this level suits them and that gave me warm fuzzies.

Syed will always love Jaime but he can love Dashiell too. He can and does make a new start. From redecorating the apartment to realizing Dashiell needed him to call directly rather than using Bhupati and multiple other ways he deliberately changes and adjusts to accommodate Dashiell and the new version of Syed that's learned from past mistakes, is wiser and maybe a little braver than he once was.

Aftershock has quite a bit of legal eagling, maybe not as much as Aftercare but be forewarned anyhow. Also, mind the trigger for homophobic hate crimes! Dashiell's client is... challenging. Honestly, I kept trying to hate him but I wound up mostly feeling sorry for him and hoping he finds his way. Actually... *sheepish duck/shrug thing* I wouldn't be averse to reading Casey's story. Or Bhupati! I loved him. Or both! #greedy

Recommend to fans of contemporary romance who like a little hurt/comfort with a smidge of kink and a slowish burn.

An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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