Dayton is a meek receptionist at a struggling hotel in Montana. Having grown up in this small town, he experienced hatred and intolerance as a teen when he was outed for gay. Since then, Dayton learned to keep to himself in an effort to avoid any other confrontations or unwanted attention. Living alone with his cat, Cinnamon, Dayton has dreams but doesn’t believe he’ll ever be able to escape this small town and live as he wishes.
“You gotta risk a bit if you want results.”
Max is a former professional boxer who was incarcerated for three years. During this time, Max and Dayton corresponded providing friendship and comfort to each other and knowing why Max was imprisoned made Dayton feel as though heroes actually existed. Upon being freed, Max makes a surprise trip to finally meet Dayton and that is when the unexpected happens.
“No one had ever kissed him the way Max had, and no one had ever fucked him with such ferocity.”
The initial introduction between Dayton and Max is quite explosive as they enact one of the many fantasies they exchanged in their letters. It’s clear they share passion, but Dayton is insecure about what he can really offer a man like Max. In Dayton’s eyes, Max is everything he cannot be – brave, outspoken and strong – yet as they begin to know each other, Dayton soon realizes the balance he brings to their relationship. For Dayton, this realization comes at an emotional price when he must confront his biggest fears.
“Sometimes, people show their true face at the first sign of trouble. I just wish you hadn’t had to go through it all.”
Break My Shell offers a sincere and realistic depiction of how intolerance can be oppressive until it’s no longer accepted. With Dayton, he needed one person in his life to believe in him and when Max was willing to defend Dayton at any cost, it triggered a deep change for the better. Despite Max being portrayed as the stronger character, he certainly wasn’t immune to anti-gay sentiments by family and strangers and he paid dearly for his actions but just in a different way than Dayton.
Dayton is a quiet, good hearted and relatable character. Reading how his boss and others constantly took advantage was frustrating but Day’s reasoning for allowing this treatment made me sad for him. Once Dayton took ownership of his life, it was a relief to feel his happiness, acceptance and sense of hope. Max provided a good balance with his no-nonsense approach but even with his tough guy exterior, Max always showed reverence to Dayton.
While this book offers filthy hot sex, it is also grounded in real life struggles and how one can find the strength to be true to himself and others. This is the second book I’ve read by K.A. Merikan and I continue to enjoy their style of writing – genuine, sexy and provocative. If you’re looking for an endearing M/M story, I recommend!