Reviewed by Cristofer Garton
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
Just let me preface this review by stating that I’m not usually a reader of dark fiction, and it’s been a while since I’ve been disturbed by what I’ve read. The Manny is very dark and twisted at times, and while this didn’t impact my assessment of its quality or ability to keep me engaged, it was a shadow that followed me all throughout the book.
The book opens with Gabe looking for a babysitter, someone to watch and care for his daughter, Isabela. Fortunately for Gabe-or so he thinks-the search is over when he meets Matthew, a charming, attractive young man. Gabe is still reeling from his husband’s death, and when Matthew comes along, Gabe is immediately attracted to him. They hit it off.
At first Gabe considers this to be an ethical concern, given that Matthew is ten years younger than him, responsible for taking care of his daughter, and because he’s paying him. As things progress, however, it becomes apparent to people around Gabe that Matthew has developed strong feelings for him. Gabe shrugs this off until Matthew initiates a kiss with him one night, and Matthew tells him how attracted he is to Gabe. Gabe is flattered, but tells Matthew he’d like to take things slow. Matthew seems put off by this at first, but gives Gabe the space he needs.
It should be noted that Gabe is a tortured artist type, someone who is tender and kind, thoughtful, etc., whereas Matthew is a “feral, country boy.” The two couldn’t be more different, but you know what they say about opposites attracting…
One night, Gabe and Matthew engage in their first sexual encounter, but Gabe asks Matthew if he’d be okay with taking things slow (again). Matthew becomes upset with Gabe, and this creates tension between the two of them. A little while later, Gabe begins to gradually see the cracks in Matthew’s mask–how hot-tempered he is, how jealous he gets, how violent and volatile he can be.
Matthew soon becomes linked to all of these disappearances, but Gabe is so smitten with Matthew that he can’t see him for what he really is. Despite the many signs…
Matthew is deceptive and cruel, manipulative and calculating, petty and maniacal, in every sense. I never felt sorry for him. This is rare for me as an empath, but I kept hoping something would happen to Matthew, some kind of retribution, but the nightmare only ended once Matthew got away.
If you enjoy twists and turns, and rooting for the dark horse, give The Manny a try.