Friday, 9 November 2012

Compulsion, Clare London

Compulsion. A perfectly named book. I cannot recommend this book, the writing, highly enough. On my list of the best of 2012.

-Review By Kazza K

Nice cover. Mmm, Seve
Compulsion is from Max Newman's POV. When we start the book, Max has been back in Brighton for six months,
after a stint in London. He is working in the construction industry and living with his two best friends, Jack and Louis. Max has returned to his friends quieter, more reclusive, and with a real sadness attached to him. Jack and Louis are not only his friends but they are lovers as well. They are wonderful secondary characters, you can't help but really warm to them. Everyone should have a pair of friends so dedicated to them in their hour of need, because these guys are just so caring and helpful. They never judge Max, they try to get him to talk, and get him out and about, all without being obnoxious -

"You've been a social hermit for months. You never used to be so quiet. You enjoyed clubbing and parties."
"And men" Louis winced as Jack pinched him. "Well you did! I haven't seen you date anyone more than once for months."
"It's not a crime." Louis didn't notice my sharp tone but Jack did, and his eyes narrowed.
"Just come out for an hour or so, okay? We'll catch a cheap pizza at Luigi's on the promenade, then go and see what they've done with the decor at Compulsion. It's not that seedy old place we used to scam our way into after school......It's been bought out by a national chain and gone seriously upmarket."

Max is an interesting character. It's his head we're in throughout Compulsion and there were times I would have liked to have been let out; but I'm glad I didn't get let off the hook by Clare London. He can be difficult to like in some ways, yet you can't help but have compassion for what he's been through. Young, naive, lonely people, those who are vulnerable have few options and often make poor choices. Something Max did. Max has authority issues and went through a rebellious stage, a lot of people have, I know I did. On some ocassions it can turn out badly, which it did for Max. He left university, his friends, and trusted in a lover that didn't do the right thing, and found himself stranded with false, youthful bravado guiding him. However, he's back in Brighton and is clean and working hard. Max is quite sullen, though, and has so much guilt attached to himself, more than enough for any one man, let alone one in his 20's-

Maybe, like Jack said, I was scared. But there was no way I could tell my best friends why.

I couldn't bear them knowing all about it, realizing what a mess I'd made of everthing. How I'd disappointed everyone, including myself. No, I never wanted to tell them the whole sordid story.

Max is very angry, brooding, and quite honestly presented as depressed for a lot of the book, with cause -

I sat in a virtually public place as if I were totally alone, trying to shake off a creeping depression. I felt withdrawn from everything around me....I was scared again. I was in a cold, cracked London pavement around the back of Soho, crouched over a crumpled and bleeding body. 

Seve Nunez runs the Brighton franchise of Compulsion. It's part of the Medina Group that owns more clubs in Manchester and London; not to mention other business ventures. The Medina Group is Seve's family's business, run primarily by his uncle, but his mother has a fair stakehold; and family loyalty is very much instilled in Seve. Compulsion was another rundown club until the Medina Group bought and refurbished it. Seve has a business degree and has taken over management in Brighton as part of the acquisition. It's here he first sees Max who is out with Jack and Louis. Louis dances at Complusion and Jack and his friends like to visit the club and watch Louis, ever the extrovert, dance. All I can say is whoa baby! Seve is one sexy, alpha top, and one of my new favourite characters.

Seve and Max see each other across the dark room at Compulsion and it's lust at first sight. Max doesn't know why he's so drawn to Seve, apart from the obvious physical pull, because he's been abstaining after a tragedy has occured in London. You know there's more to what has happened but you don't know all the details at first, they come out as the book progresses. However, Max is very attracted and before he knows it he finds himself out the back of Compulsion in the grotty courtyard - complete with garbage, bins, and foxes looking on - having a quick, rough bit of sex. A week of thinking about Seve and Max is back at Compulsion having another sexy hook-up, this time in a small office, on a desk, against a wall. It's hot, sweaty, body thumping sex....again. And, oh, yeah , wasn't it sexy as!

Max and Seve make for an interesting couple. Seve is this Latino man of few words, has lived a very well-to-do lifestyle, while Max is this tortured, brooding man, raised in an orphange who has dropped out of university and works in construction. Seve likes hard and fast and once-only flings, often with high profile people. Yet Max is the one that leaves everytime they have sex. He sets the ground rules on how much hurt he can bear at a subconscious level. How close he won't let anyone get. Seve may appear distant and in control but Max beats him hands down in keeping locked-down in anything but sheer sex. There,my God, he cuts free.

If you read my GR status updates they are pretty much all sexual in nature, because this book is up there for one of the sexiest books of the year, perhaps ever, but there is a good story here as well. Nice secondary characters, good development of plot. Plus there's the whole background story Max is trying to deal with. There is such passion and intensity it's almost like you are drowning in an obsessive affair right along with Max and Seve, that develops into an equally intense and passionate, albeit unusual, relationship.

I love passion in people, I love passion in my characters, I love passion in writers - three out of three here! Clare London drips passion all over the pages, all over the characters. It seems as if it has quite literally dripped through her veins and oozed out from within - onto her keyboard and spread out for us, the readers, to immerse ourselves in. I was in a constant state of drowning-in-lust-and-desire, and totally understood their intensely sexual needs and wants. They desire each other so much that it felt like needing oxygen to breathe.

I enjoyed the plot which involved friendship, and a deeper understanding from Max as to what that actually meant. Also the primary plot about the time Max spent in London and the connection to his time now in Brighton, and Compulsion. The Medina Group is rumoured to be involved in drug running and money laundering. Something Max knows a bit about, courtesy of his dark days spent in London. Is Seve involved? He's part of the Medina Group and family after all. If so, how does Max reconcile what he is doing with Seve, having sex with him and constantly thinking about him, going to him? Max has information on a cold case that pertains to criminal activity around the London Compulsion club. Should he go to the police and possibly throw himself under a bus and take Seve with him? All of this is written so well because it is hard to know whether Seve is an above-board businessman, or someone who bends the rules. Someone who is lying to his lover. He is a man of few words and a lot of the time spent between Max and Seve is hot and heavy sexual action. They do get to know one another bit by bit. Their lives are intertwined through people and the club. Max insists on asking quesions of Seve who doesn't like it, but his attraction to Max helps him open up more, until there is trust, for both of them. But it takes a while. Interestingly the "L" word does not get bandied around. They say some beautifully heartfelt words near the end, but 'I love you' never does make the page. There is insta-lust, not insta-love. The love and deeper affection builds. I have to say that Seve becomes gentler, Max gains strength.They both learn something about themselves and relationships.

The ending may bother some people, it is not your cookie cutter ending. It is happy, and hopeful, have no fear if that worries you, but it's not a HEA. There is room for a sequel, a big chasm waiting for the next book to fill it. Please let there be a sequel, because I need, yes need, more of these men. I want to know what is going to happen with them. I want to hear the words "I love you." I don't need to be told they do, I know they love each other, Seve does not stop thinking about Max and vice versa. But still.....

I loved Compulsion, it will be on my list of top books for 2012. I recommend it for people who like an alpha male, a brooding, troubled character; those that love some rough, yet sexy grind, a bit of exhibitionism, a submissive yet confident lover, with a power top, a cops-like thread, a kind of anti-hero, and just some good writing and storytelling.  

I'm just going to finish with some words from Seve, towards the latter part of the book -

He sighed. "It is my turn to say what I want, yes? I want you." His lips whispered over my forehead, and I felt my face turning up to him. "I want to be inside you. Every night. I want your hair loose and tangled against my neck. I want your hands teasing at my thighs. I want your generous  mouth over my cock, sucking me, licking me." He was almost kissing me, almost...."When I eat, I want you. When I walk, I want you. When I smile, when I dress, when I wash - I want you. When I breathe...."

"Shit." I groaned. "When you learn to talk, you talk, you know?"

Yes, he does, Max.


  1. Many thanks for the detailed and enthusiastic review, I really appreciate it! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and the characters :)

    1. Never let it be said I'm anything but enthusiastic, Clare :)I truly loved the book and I hope for more on Max and Seve.



  2. This looks like a great book. I really look forward to reading it. I love how you bring out the characters and the story so well in your reviews. Great review, as always.

    1. Thanks, Cindi. As you can probably tell, maybe tell :) I really enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down. My eyes were blurry and falling out of my head by the end. That, to me, is a good book.