Tom Delaney first appeared in book one of the Bannon’s Gym series, Black Dog. The teenaged Tom readers were first introduced to was a lost boy on the streets, afraid for his and his mother’s safety and very angry. He was taken in, given a home and then a job at the diner by the Eddie Roscoe and his mother Gloria. He also learned to defend himself and was given an outlet for his anger by Eddie’s lover Danny, owner of Bannon’s Gym. Now its several years later and Tom is back in town after learning of his father’s death. But things are definitely not like he left them. The town is run-down, Eddie’s diner is barely making ends meet and Gloria is extremely ill. The only thing that is even remotely still as he remembers it is the gym and his ex-lover, ex-training partner and the man who knocked out his teeth and broke his jaw in the last bout he fought, Travis.
Travis has just as many issues as Tom. He’s caught up in family drama with his sister and nephew and is still haunted by the addiction issues of a former lover. The very last thing he expects when he walks in for his shift at the gym is to be confronted by the still bitter man who he hasn’t seen since right after he kicked his teeth in at a championship bout.
I was hoping at the end of Black Dog things were better with Eddie and Danny. And they are romantically, but it seems everything else has gone to shit. I bring up Eddie and Danny because Takedown isn’t just Tom’s story. Not really. This is a continuation of everyone’s lives: Eddie, Danny, Gloria and Tom. Then it goes and adds Travis to the mix. The POVs shift repeatedly throughout and it took me a little bit to get used to how everyone’s issues all intermingled. As bad as things are at the beginning of this book, they seriously got worse and even darker the longer I read.
Tom is young, only 22, but has already lived a lifetime of emotional and physical pain. He’s lived through an abusive father, the suicide of his mother and then what he feels is the betrayal of a new lover. He’s only back in Lincoln Beach to deal with the death of his father and to hopefully put some of his past to rest. Travis is much older, but he didn’t really seem like it. He makes just as many bad decisions and has just as many insanely crappy problems to deal with. I was so freaking frustrated by every single person in this story. No one communicates, no one talks to each other and every one, including Gloria, keeps secrets and would rather just ignore their problems than deal with them or talk things out. GAHHHHHHHHHHHH.
Tom and Travis are still very attracted to each other, so of course they start up again, but if you are expecting any lovey-dovey, sugar sweet romantic times think again. These two are not like that in any way, shape or form. They duke out their problems and run away from each other every chance they get. They are supposed to be the MCs in this story, but don’t even really get together until about 25%. In fact by the time they even got to declaring themselves to each other I wasn’t sure I believed their feelings. I had a lot of sympathy for each of them at first, but those sympathies soon turned to frustration the longer I read. I felt like I wanted to jump in the book and knock their heads together. Don’t even get me started on the less than exciting love scenes.
Takedown is a dark, morose read and every character has a lot of crap to go through before they finally get to the light at the end of the tunnel aka the epilogue. Which I will admit, was a satisfying one. Thank goodness. This book is definitely not a stand-a-lone. I would recommend picking up Black Dog if you haven’t read it yet before you one-click this one. If you are looking for a light, funny m/m contemporary then stop now, this is not for you. If you want something dark and angsty, then you might want to add this to your TBR list.I wavered back and forth on what rating I wanted to settle on, while I had many (so, so many) frustrations with the storyline, I did read this cover to cover within a few hours and found myself reading faster to find out how everything would wrap up. So I’m settling on a final grade of C.
“Christ, every guy I fall for is just like you. Another hot mess.”