Skin Deep by Adrienne Wilder
Adult - m/m romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Source: Received for review from Dreamspinner Press
Taylor Simmons has everything he’s ever wanted: a decent job, a nice apartment, and Joey Martin, his perfect geek boyfriend. But all that is about to change.
First Joey gets sick. He’s feverish for days, starving for food. Finally a terrified Taylor calls EMS only to be told there’s nothing they can do. Joey’s body is changing, and he’s not going to be Human anymore. He’s a Lesser-Bred.
Suddenly Taylor, who has always taken care of Joey, can’t even begin to fulfill his needs. Joey needs to eat—to feed. And that means he needs a sexual connection with Gabriel, a Lesser-Bred being kept by a Kin named Pavel. Stripped of his job, his cushy apartment, and his connection to the sweet, dorky Joey he fell in love with, Taylor struggles to maintain a sense of identity—and humanity—in Atlanta’s Gray Zone, where Human dreams become nightmares. Suddenly it’s Taylor, not Joey, who needs to be protected. Because the people around him are dying, and if Taylor doesn’t open his eyes, he might be next.
"Feed: The act of taking Blood, Flesh, or Metaphysical energy."
Taylor loves Joey, but when his boyfriend suddenly becomes something other than human with needs that he can't comprehend he begins to wonder if it isn't better to just leave Joey in the Gray Zone with Loren, Gabriel, and the other lesser-breeds. Taylor also questions his relationship with Joey, who now wants Taylor to participate in his Feedings, which Taylor finds questionable to human nature. Joey is far from human now though, something that Taylor must remind himself of frequently.
Joey has been normal and undercooked his entire life. There isn't anything special about him. He's short, self-conscious, and he somehow has managed to keep his boyfriend interested for years. On day he gets sick. Painfully sick. What he didn't know was that he was lesser-bred. Lesser-Breeds are half-breed Kins and human offspring that can be used as Food for Kin, without breaking any laws or feeding on humans. Joey has more human DNA than Kin, which gives him a greater risk of becoming mentally or physically unstable once he's shifted.
Gabriel decides to Keep Joey, even when he's not quite sure of his Value or if he can even be Kept. He decides to try and save Joey and constantly Feeds him. Joey is Gabriel's responsibility and if anything should happen because of Joey, Gabriel is responsible for cleaning up the mess. Gabriel was one of my favorite characters. Gabriel is extremely protective of Joey, especially when it concerns Taylor. He does not want to see Taylor give Joey false hope in their relationship, only to turn and walk out the door. Gabriel gives Taylor plenty of chances to cut and run, often showing Taylor the less-human side of what Joey has now become.
Skin Deep is the kind of dark and edgy book that I love to read. With an ending that you are not expecting, you hope that Joey and Taylor can make it work between their Kin and human nature.