ARC Review: Leveled (Saints of Denver #0.5) by Jay Crownover

We all need a hero...let the Saints of Denver begin

Orlando Frederick knows what it is to be leveled by pain. Instead of focusing on his own, he’s made it his mission to help others: sports stars, wounded war vets, survivors of all kinds. But when Dom, a rugged, damaged, sinfully attractive cop, makes his way into Lando’s physical therapy practice, he might be the biggest challenge yet. Lando loved one stubborn man before and barely survived the fallout. He’s not sure he can do it again.

Dominic Voss is a protector. The police badge he wears is not only his job, it’s his identity, so when he’s sidelined because of an injury, the only thing he cares about is getting back on the force. He expects Lando to mend his body, he just doesn’t realize the trainer will also have him working toward a hell of a lot more. As attraction simmers and flares, Dom sees that Lando needs repair of his own...if only the man will let him close enough to mend what's broken.

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Jay Crownover’s Marked Men have all found their perfect matches…or have they? When Rule and Rome’s brother Remy died, he left behind not only his family and his best friend Shaw, he also left behind Lando, the man he loved. Now, finally, Lando will have the happily ever after he so richly deserves in the e-novella LEVELED, on sale from William Morrrow Impulse November 2nd, but available at the special pre-order price of $1.99!

With the surprise release of LEVELED, readers will get a look back at their beloved Marked Men, but will also get a peek at characters from Jay’s upcoming series, Saints of Denver, along with a chapter of BUILT (on sale from William Morrow Paperbacks January 5, 2016). This novella will only be available for pre-order for two weeks, at the special price of $1.99. Once it goes on sale, readers will be able to download Lando’s HEA for $2.99. 

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Toot's Review

Leveled by Jay Crownover is a kick off novella to her new spin-off series Saints of Denver based in the Marked Men world and boy does it pack a punch. Not only does Jay need to set up the new series but because it’s based in the world of her old series, she needs to do some backstory explaining as well as tell the M/M love story of Dominic Vos and Orlando Frederick who are characters in both series now and do it all in a novella. Yeah, you see where I’m going with this…….

So first let me give you a little synopsis for those new to Jay’s Marked Men world and also for those who’ve never read the books. Dominic Vos is a beat cop who’s best friend and partner is Royal (whom we met in previous Marked Men books). He was gravely injured on the job (he fell from a freakin’ building) and has been put on leave until he can be reevaluated and reinstated for duty. As you can imagine this leaves the very macho cop in the doldrums but he is bound and determined to get his job and life back. With the help of Royal and some of others, they pull strings to get him into the best physical therapist around, Orlando Frederick. Lando is often called a miracle worker and has a very famous client list. He not only takes on famous athletes and celebrities but also everyday heroes like the super sexy cop, Dom. The two are instantly attracted to each other and sparks fly but can they get over all their past baggage to find happiness together? You’ll have to read it to find out but yes, there is a HEA, LOL.

What I loved about this story is getting to revisit all our old Marked Men friends and getting the epilogues we so desperately wanted from them. We also get another side of Remy’s story from Marked Men. As it turns out Lando and Remy were lovers until one tragic night. Leveled brings all that and paves the way to Saints of Denver. Dom and Lando’s story literally closes one series and opens another.

Now onto what I didn’t love so much…….ugggggg are you really going to make me hate on a series I love……..Alright maybe I can just break it down by points.

1. It’s a dual POV and to be honest, I couldn’t tell except for the fact that each POV was titled with the character’s name. To me it read as one character, if that makes sense. There was no distinguishing characteristics to either man that came through on the pages. If there weren’t chapter titles telling me who’s voice it was, I would have thought the whole story was being told from one POV.

2. I felt the love story got lost with all the series backstory and setting up of the new series.

3. Sorry but I DIDN’T FEEL THE HEAT. I don’t care if it’s a M/M, M/F or F/F, I want to feel the sparks coming off the pages in my love stories. I want the awkwardness of the first meeting, I want the angst, I want the sizzle and it doesn’t need to be raging sex but I don’t want it to feel like an old married couple. I’m telling you, these two guys felt like two people who fit together perfectly but there was no steam.

4. Lastly, I loved getting the goods on all my Marked Men family and learning the backstory on Remy but I honestly think that there was too much of it *ducks from the flying fruit*.

I’d break the book down to 1/3 epilogue and filling in story holes for Marked Men, 1/3 world building and 1/3 love story, and I’ll also give this one a 3 out of 5.

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