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Henry Delloit lives a good life. He’s a successful video game programmer who’s been able to build his dream home high on a mountain, surrounded by tranquility and snow. Every year Henry takes the hour-long trip to Branchberry Village to watch the Winter X-Treme games. One of his favorite games to follow is snowboarding. This year he’s gone a few days early to watch the athletes practice and mingle with the locals.

When he spots a cute, blonde boarder doing a handstand and joking around in a crowd, Henry is immediately infatuated with the younger man. When the man makes eye contact with him he smiles, and to Henry’s delight, he comes over and introduces himself as Ecco. Since Henry is an avid X-Treme sports fan, he realizes who Ecco is immediately. The men have a drink together and hit it off. Henry is captivated by Ecco’s zest for life and sparkling blue eyes. He’s thrilled when he asks Ecco for dinner and the man accepts. When Ecco leaves to do a few things before their date, Henry notices a large man arguing and dominating over Ecco as they are leaving. This bother’s Henry. He wonders if Ecco is already involved and has a jealous boyfriend, but he decides to shake off the nagging feeling and enjoy his dinner with the sexy boarder later on that night.

Ecco Rasmussen loves the feeling of freedom he gets when he’s on the slopes.  At the ripe old age of twenty-eight he knows that his time in the games will soon come to an end, so he just has fun enjoying snowboarding and competing while he can. When he meets Henry he intrigues him. Henry is a nice looking, intelligent and kind man who Ecco really enjoys being around. After a flirty and fun dinner date, Ecco wants to spend more time with Henry, but he’s scared. His manager, who is also his ex-lover, is abusive and threatens the well being of his friends and loved ones if Ecco doesn’t do everything he asks. Since Ecco doesn’t want anyone hurt, he goes along with this abuse in the hopes that someday it will soon stop.

When Ecco gets hurt on a qualifying run, his manager beats him up. His manager is still determined that Ecco will compete in the games, so he’s forced to participate in another qualifying run the next day, even though he’s got a broken arm and battered body. When Ecco spots Henry after the run, Henry immediately recognizes that something is terribly wrong and that Ecco is afraid. Since Ecco does not compete again for at least a week, Henry whisks Ecco off to his isolated home on the mountains where Ecco can rest and feel safe.

As the men start forming a bond together, a dark cloud hangs over their heads. They know Ecco must somehow rid his life of his manager. Both men know that the evil man will not go down without a fight, but with Henry at Ecco’s side, will they persevere?

I really liked this book. I loved watching Henry and Ecco’s relationship build from just being physically attracted to each other, to a deep resounding love that is not only nurturing, but beautiful as well. I really felt like Henry and Ecco not only loved each other, but they liked each other as well.

Even the sex in the book was just more than sex. It became a very loving, healing balm in their relationship and I loved it. What I liked best about X-Factor was the special moments Ecco and Henry had together, like Ecco teaching Henry how to snowboard and little things like sharing popcorn together while watching television. My favorite moment was when Ecco shared his real name with Henry, and Henry taking it as the gift it really was to call him that. There were many sweet and loving moments in this book and I loved every one of them. I definitely can’t wait to read more from this author.

Sean also has a really good website. If you are interested in reading more about Sean Michael’s work here is his web address: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

Book Blurb for X-Factor

166 pages / 51000 words
Gay Erotic Romance, Contemporary
Torquere Press, Top Shelf
Game designer Henry Delloit loves his life, his mountain community, his isolated dream home and the snow. He also loves that the X-treme Games blow into the area for a month every year, bringing with them hundreds of athletes.
Ecco Rasmussen loves boarding; he needs it in fact. He knows he'll never make it to the big times but as long as he can get on his board and go he doesn't care. The only fly in the ointment is his manager Blake Dobbs. The man is possessive and mean and believes he owns Ecco. Given the way he's isolated Ecco and holds all the money, not to mention the way he treats the boarder, Ecco figures maybe he does. 
When Henry and Ecco meet at the Branchberry Games, it's lust at first sight. An injury on Ecco's qualifying run gives them the opportunity to spend some quality time alone together at Henry's home, away from the crowds and out from under Blake's thumb.
Will lust have the opportunity to turn into love? More importantly, what will Blake do when he finds out?

Night Owl Reviews Jun, 2010 4.25