From the first time I picked up one of K.A. Mitchell’s novels (Joey and Aaron I love you!!), she’s been on my “Absolute Favorite” list of authors. To me she is a standard when it comes to erotica in this genre. The humor and vulnerability in her characters are wonderful as well, simply, I just love her books. Bad Influence, the fourth novel in the Bad in Baltimore series was for me one of the most anticipated books of the year. Basically, the second I finished reading Bad Attitude, Jamie and Gavin’s story, I could barely contain the NEED to get my hands on Silver’s book. When I read it last week, it was just as amazing as I expected, and ever more than that it was refreshing. Other than Eli and Quinn’s book, which will always be my favorite story from K.A., this one, Silver and Zeb’s story will be the one I will remember for when my respect for her as an author was elevated exponentially. There is something to be said about bravery in an author for writing the story that NEEDS to be told, and in this book this lady was fucking courageous.
Before I get into all the things I loved about Silver and Zeb’s love story, I’m going to talk about my wine and food pairing. K.A. made this shizz easy for me people! Silver worked for a burger place, (hello VEGGIE BURGERS!) and the book is set in the hot Baltimore summer, white wine please! Yep, I made these boys veggie burgers, and got me some delicious Pinot Grigio to stave off the summer heat. I chose the Twisted 2012 Pinot Grigio from California for my wine, it is very subtle with an almost sweet after taste that well chilled is perfect for a hot day. It’s also INCREDIBLY good value, $6.99 a bottle is a hell of a deal. The veggie burgers are a hybrid recipe from two of my favorite food bloggers, they are made with beets, black beans and brown rice, so delicious, and made with just good stuff.
We meet up with our favorite gang of Baltimore boys a few weeks after we left Jamie and Gavin. Silver was trying to deal with Zebediah Harris walking back into his life, after four years, and things were not going well. See the things is Silver was actually Jordan Barnett in a former life. He grew up in a little ultra conservative town in Pennsylvania, and when his parents found out he was gay at 17 his entire life fell apart. A big part of that life had been Zeb, who Silver had been secretly seeing when his life blew up. Sad, bad things happened, and when Silver realized EVERYONE in his life was going to turn his back on him, he cut and run. He went to Baltimore and did whatever he had to do to stay alive. That list of things included long, painful and dark nights. He did what he had to, and it came at a price. So, there he was still struggling to make ends meet, trying as much as he could to built some sort of life, when Zeb waltzed back in to fuck things up. He had friends, sort of, Eli and his man, and the other guys in the group tried to bring him into their little tribe. Silver was skittish though, because nothing good ever happened to him. He can’t trust anything good that’s going for him…Nothing ever works.
So yeah. Zebediah Harris with this whole avenging angel, New Gay Christian bullshit comes back to fuck Silver once again, and not in the fun was he used to like. Things escalate and Silver ends up spending a night in jail with pretty grim prospects. Eli and his gang of gay do-gooders come to the rescue, but it only means Silver for the first time in what seems like forever will have to rely on other people to get out of the mess he’s in. He will have to TRUST and stay put. He will have to open up about all the shit that is going on with him…He does NOT want to do any of it. He has been doing the lone wolf thing for a while now, and true that’s gotten him in a lot more trouble than he wished to admit, but still. He’s bitter and angry with Zeb for turning his back on Silver when he most needed him. The things he had to do to stay alive, he still blames Zeb for a lot of it. If Zeb would have been a better friend things could have turned out different. He wants payback, he wants Zeb to feel some of the pain and despair he’s felt SO MANY times in the years after he left home. The thing is SEEING him again, looking in his eyes, and seeing that in the years they haven not seen each other things have changed for Zeb too, that he is older and wiser and not so naive about the world and faith. That he still REALLY wants Silver.
It’s hard to hold on to all the bitterness, it really is, because not only is Zeb there all the time, trying in any way he can to make amends, to get back some of what he had with Silver. But Eli is there too, Quinn and him opened there home to Silver indefinitely no strings attached. Gavin was there with a lawyer and his support too, even Jamie that asshole is doing what he can for Silver to get back on his feet. Why? WHY do these guys even care? What do they get out of any of this? Silver is annoyed and confused with all the help, but more than anything he is frightened, he is fucking TERRIFIED of the flutter crazy STUPID hope he is starting to feel. He can’t count on a good outcome, he’s been fucked over too many times to believe he could actually walk in the sunset with a real life, and friends and love and shit. He knows BETTER, Silver does not believe in happy endings, that was Jordan Barnett and that guy doesn’t live here anymore.
This story was very emotional for me. Silver is one of those characters that just get under your skin, it’s easy to cheer for him, but more than that you want him to want to cheer for himself. To see him open his eyes to his own future and to what he can do, and the mark he can make in the world was so so beautiful to read. It’s a tough premise K.A. puts forward in this story, one that probably will unsettle some readers, because those of us who read romance tend to like the neat, fool proof happy endings. Those are nice, it’s true. But to me what makes this genre the wonderful thing that it is, is the very fact it gives us the opportunity to read happy endings for all kinds of people, even ones who in the real world probably wouldn’t have gotten one. I loved that she was bold enough to hope, and come up with a place where kids who get thrown into the streets could find a safe haven to bloom. I enjoyed how much time I got to see Eli who will ALWAYS be one of my favorite fictional people, and even more to get a bit more time with Gavin and Jamie happily ever after. It was like visiting with friends and finding them better than you left them. There is no better feeling than that.
I loved this book completely, the characters where lovely, the erotica was completely worth the wait, and the ending was one of the best ones I’ve read from Ms. Mitchell. If I had one thing to complain about was that the Spanish one of the secondary characters spoke was a bit off, and that for me is always distracting, otherwise, it was a great read. K.A. tells me she is working on the next book in the series, which will feature Beach, who we met in Bad Attitude and a new character. All I can say is, next April cannot get here fast enough!!!
Completely recommend this one.
Beet, Black Bean and Brown Rice Veggie Burgers
1 14 oz can of black beans rinsed and drained
1 cup of cooked brown rice