Review: Laying Claim (Rough Edges Book 1) by Matthew Dante

Laying Claim (Photo Credit: Luan Queiros)

LAYING CLAIM is Book 1 of author Matthew Dante’s gay/queer erotic crime thriller Rough Edges Series. This suspenseful opposites-attract love story is a credit to the author’s arsenal of seductive M/M nail-biters.

Seth Richards, a 24-year-old gay man and amateur detective first introduced in Dante’s deliciously deviant Fractured Series, gets mixed up in the dangerous world of New Jersey’s O’Brien Crime family. When asked to do some sleuthing for his friend Mark (the lovable yet sadistic romantic lead of the Fractured Series–it’s complicated) regarding some dead Irish mobsters, Seth reluctantly agrees to the supposedly low-risk, simple intel-gathering job. Not too long later, however, he finds himself in a room, tied to a chair, beaten and bleeding.

Next in line to take over his father’s crime syndicate, Irishman Mickey O’Brien is a closeted bisexual with major daddy issues. He possesses a killer body, a sexy undercut hairstyle with a thick strip of red running down the middle, and a fierce attitude that commands respect. No one, and nothing gets to Mickey. That is until a cute young man, bleeding, tied to a chair but still ferociously defiant, turns his world upside down and his heart inside out. Oh ya, Mickey still needs to find out who’s killing his guys.

Laying Claim (Photo Credit: Ralph Rabago)

Laying Claim shows real maturity in Dante’s writing style, and the elevation of everything I loved in his previous work is front and center: adult themes, character development, and scene setting. I’m particularly impressed by the textual complexity of discourse between his characters, especially in scenes where heightened emotion, contrasting class backgrounds, and sexually provocative language abound. It’s not always easy to “get” an author’s intention for readers to connect sensually to their work when it features descriptive violence or masochism, consensual or not. Still, Dante achieves this tricky symmetry seamlessly, often more playfully than I ever expected!

A racy romp, Laying Claim incorporates elements of S&M, kink, and true romanticism that might not exactly follow a conventional path. Yes, it’s an erotic adult crime thriller with a fabulous gay/queer touch, but it also manages to deal thoughtfully with serious issues: homophobia, child abuse, drug addiction, and poverty. These secondary themes add sophistication to what some might think is just another MM gay erotic thriller. Laying Claim is so much more than that. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Dante’s follow-up Rough Edges books.

Laying Claim (Rough Edges Book 1) is available for purchase at and For more information about this author, follow Matthew Dante on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and TikTok.


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