A few days ago, a reader named Camry left a message for me on Facebook about a m/m series I had never heard. After talking a bit, I could tell she (and others on Goodreads) was quite passionate about it. I asked her if she was interested in reviewing it for Smexy, and luckily she said yes! I’m so happy to have her thoughts on this series. It’s currently a free read (you can read it from the author’s website or download it from Goodreads by clicking on the green “download ebook” on each book’s page. – I’ll provide links below). It is also a very long series. I’m definitely intrigued by it and want to start it soon. If you have read it, we’d love to hear your thoughts! I’ll turn it over to Camry now.
In the Company of Shadows (Four-Part Series) by Sonny Hassel and Ais Nym
Note: Sonny Hassel and Ais Nym are still doing some final editing to the series and they are also contemplating having this published in the future (e-book and print form).
Reviewed by Camry
Favorite Quote: “I came back for you. Because I wanted to find you, because I wanted to remember you.”
When Mandi asked me if I was interested in creating a write-up for this series, I was floored and excited at the same time. To write a review about something you love and are obsessed with is a tricky thing (I would have loved to write a dissertation on this series if I were still in college), but hey, a girl’s gotta give these things a shot, right? So here we go.
I encountered this series after reading Abigail Roux’s “Touch & Geaux”. While looking through the recs of people on Goodreads, I found this series and was taken in by the summary:
Years after the bombs of WWIII have changed the physical and political landscape, the Agency ruthlessly works behind the scenes to take down rebel groups that threaten the current government. Their goals justify all means. Hsin Liu Vega (Sin) is their most efficient and deadly assassin ever. However, he tends to go off on unauthorized killing sprees and somehow his assigned partners all end up dead under suspicious circumstances. That is why the Agency has had him locked up in a box on the fourth floor for years. But now they think it is time to put the psychopath back in the field. With a new partner.
Boyd’s mother, a high ranking Agency official, volunteers her teenage son for the position. Boyd is not afraid of death. In fact, his life has been such an endless cycle of apathy and despair for the last few years that he’d welcome it.
Can these two broken men form an efficient partnership? Can they learn to trust anyone, let alone each other? Sin doesn’t give a fuck about the Agency, or the androgynous boy who holds the remote to the shock collar that is supposed to control him.
On the other hand, Boyd is strangely unafraid of the man everyone calls ‘monster’ and Sin seems reluctant to let his keeper get himself killed on any missions. Yet.
Drawn in and doubly-excited because the series was being offered to the general public as a Free Read, I downloaded all four e-books and disappeared from the real world for 10 days. Before I go into the raving that I am sure I will be doing later on, let me give you a short summary with little to no spoilers of the four books:
Evenfall, Book 1 in the series (1427 pages), sets up the world that our characters currently exist in – a dark and post-apocalyptic world where WWIII occurred and insurgent groups are battling head-on with a secret organization in the US called the Agency for dominance. Sin Vega is the Agency’s top operative (a Monster/certified psychopath) while Boyd Beaulieu is a silent and broken 18-year-old brought in by his mother to become Sin’s partner. Book 1 chronicles their unlikely partnership and their struggle to find their place in the Agency and in each other’s lives.
Afterimage, Book 2 in the series (1015 pages), begins with Sin and Boyd’s relationship on the rocks. Boyd is given the opportunity to become a level 10 agent while Sin battles with his past in the form of hallucinations and insomnia. Both are pulled away from each other by forces that they cannot control and, coupled with their misunderstanding and demands from each other, are pushing each other away as well. When loyalty and trust is placed on the table, can these two find a way back to each other’s arms before the Agency and those around them tear them apart for good?
Interludes, Book 3 in the series (913 pages), consists of stand-alone stories that occur between the events of Book 2 and Book 4. It narrates the changes that Sin and Boyd go through as they learn to exist apart from each other after everything that happened to them in Book 2. Readers will also be given a chance to look into Zachary Carhart and Emilio Vega’s relationship with each other, and one of the biggest changes to the Agency will be brought on by the arrival of the European Division.
Fade, Book 4 in the series (1214 pages), starts with Boyd returning from an undercover mission and being told that Sin is dead. Lost, confused, and in pain, Boyd struggles to find the will to continue living despite his promise to go on should one of them die. But when a chance encounter with a person named Danny occurs far from Agency grounds, Boyd battles sorting truth from fiction, and making a decision that will change his life and the lives of those around him forever.
Haaa… There you guys go — the summary of the four books (and when I mean summary, I really mean extreme summary). If you want to read the Side & Back Stories of the series, you may visit the authors’ website and read them online.
This series, simply put, is a rollercoaster of emotions and one’s imagination. Sonny Hassel and Ais Nym created a complex and dark world with distinct 3D characters that, at times, made me want to throw my Kindle across the room and sob like a Disney princess on my bed.
The plot was well-planned and well-written, the setting well-developed. It’s rare for me to get drawn into a story that I find myself intrigued with the world and how it works. I am more into character interaction than anything, but the way Sonny and Ais described their world and weaved the tale together, I found myself wanting to be in the story itself, despite its inherent darkness.
The characters are all well-made and given strong voices. I usually have a difficult time remembering more than four characters at a time in books I read because the others just fade into the background for me. Not with this story, though. Characters mentioned in Book 1 and later make an appearance in Book 2 I remember clearly because of how Sonny and Ais set them up. They all have distinct voices that continually change as they grow but remain the same. Plus…they’re sexy and dangerous and intense – pant-worthy specimens of men and women.
And the emotions… From fear to disgust to amusement to confusion to hope to pride to amazement to love (ah, love…), this series is a jewel that has captured my heart and has me under its spell. I had moments where I wanted to cry for Sin and Boyd, where I struggled to understand how the Agency could be the way it was, where I shouted at characters for doing something they shouldn’t have, where I literally felt like jumping into the book and hugging a crying character.
This book exhausted me so much that I loved how it left me there on the ground unable to move on for how many days (mentally, mind you). I am unable to place into words just how surprising and lovely this series turned out to be, and if you give it a chance, it may become a new favorite of yours as well.
There are scenes in the series (especially in Book 2) that need not be described in a very vivid way or in an elaborate manner, and sometimes the thoughts of the characters keep repeating themselves unnecessarily (I understand that perhaps the authors wanted to give the readers an in-depth look of what the characters were going through and to show how much the characters have changed from when we first met them, but I believe it could have been shortened or written in a more concise way). Perhaps this is what the authors need to edit before releasing the final version of the series, but while this may have contributed to the lengthening of the books (something that may discourage new readers with reservations in starting a series as long as this), but if the reader pushes through this barrier, they will find that the series is one that exceeds expectations.
Oh! Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that their sex scenes are steamy as hell. For example, in the bathroom of a club in the middle of a mission:
Boyd barely paused at the door before he strode over, his fingers sliding into Sin’s hair at the back of his head and tugging him down. He didn’t wait for Sin to say anything before he captured Sin’s lips in a salacious kiss.
Sin slid his hands down and squeezed Boyd’s ass, yanking him closer until there was not even a centimeter of space between their bodies. The tight jeans Sin wore felt nearly painful as his hardening cock strained against the stiff, previously unworn fabric. He could feel Boyd’s erection pressing against his own.
Sin growled lowly before tearing his mouth away.
"I could fuck you right here," he said against Boyd’s lips, unable to stop himself from flicking his tongue out to taste them again.
Boyd dropped his hands to Sin’s hips and squeezed, his fingers slipping beneath the waistband of Sin’s jeans. The desire to get rid of the layer of clothing between them strengthened.
"Then fuck me," Boyd muttered, voice thick with desire.
ICoS is love. ‘Nuff said.
Okay. Screaming fan-girl moment is over…for now.