Reviewed by Helyce
Nathaniel Bradley is a British agent who takes it upon himself to locate and retrieve a stolen family heirloom. After several months, Nate tracks the priceless Faberge egg to New York where he believes a group of criminals are in possession of it and are moving to try and sell it. Taking on the persona of a male prostitute he hopes to infiltrate the con ring, seduce the mark, and somehow steal back the egg and return it to its rightful owner.
Tony Terranova, Jr. is the mark. The son of a well known mafia boss, Nate realizes that this con just got way more dangerous than he bargained for. But on the night that he is to meet Tony, all thoughts of danger fall away when Nate sees Tony for the first time. Their attraction to each other is immediate and Nate struggles to keep his personal feelings in check. Unfortunately, Tony makes this very difficult as he reads Nate’s reaction to him and begins to push every one of Nate’s buttons. Tony immediately senses Nate’s dominant side and is more than ready to be his submissive.
Nate is completely unprepared for Tony’s reaction to him. Torn between his feelings for Tony and the con he’s supposed to pull, Nate finds himself in a no win situation. He must retrieve the egg, but he knows it will end with both he and Tony having broken hearts? Caught between his lies and his love for Tony can Nate do the right thing?
The Long Con is my first read by author Lori Toland and while I enjoyed the suspense part of this story, there were parts of the romance that didn’t work for me. Nathaniel Bradley is a British agent for SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency). He’s well respected and works hard and therefore has no time for a serious relationship. The only family he has left are his grandfather and his wife Margie. The Faberge egg in question actually belongs to Margie whose family brought the egg with them when they fled out of Russia. The egg is priceless because it’s not supposed to exist. When it is stolen, Margie is devastated and Nate promises her that he will get it back.
The story then jumps forward six months. Nate tracks the egg to New York and works his way into the con artists ring by posing as a male prostitute. His job is to seduce the mark, Tony Terranova, and get him to contact the others to negotiate the purchase of the egg. They know that Tony is interested in Russian artifacts because his mother was Russian. Everything is in place and going as planned until Nate meets Tony. Their attraction to each other is instant and Nate struggles to stay in character and pull off the con. He fails as they immediately have sex in the bathroom where Nate is thrilled to find out that Tony is the perfect sub to his dominant personality.
And this is where I began to have a little trouble with the romance/relationship part of this story. I don’t really know how to explain it; there was just something about the dialogue between the men during the sex scenes that felt clinical and staged. It just didn’t flow naturally and came off a bit like “take A and put into slot B. I would classify the bdsm aspect as “light”, just some spanking and the tying of wrists, but it was the way they talked to each other that was somehow “off” for me. Additionally, these two are having internal dialogues about being in love after only knowing each other for a very short time and that absolutely did not work for me. Considering that the con part of the story covers about 72 hours; these two professing love was too unrealistic for me.
The “con” part of this story, however, was extremely well done. I totally bought into the original ruse and was pulled into the story. Though I had the feeling as I read that there was something or someone who was “more” than we were being shown, the author totally had me fooled and I even missed a totally blatant hint that she gives until it’s pointed out. In this, the author does a fantastic job and I really did enjoy the suspense and catch 22 she uses in the end.
We are treated to a very nice epilogue but it is here, once again, that I became confused. Following the con, Nate and Tony are separated for a few months while everything is sorted out. It is clear that they are both miserable, but neither has made any effort to contact the other. Why? How could two people who claim to be in love completely cut off all communication. While I disliked that they fell in love so quickly, their lack of communication seemed like a big inconsistency to me.
In the end, there was enough to keep me engaged and at no time did I consider dnf-ing due to my issues with the romance. Ultimately, it was the suspense part of the story that kept me intrigued enough to continue.