Ash by Jack L Pyke

 5 stars
Ash is Book 5 in the Don't: series but it is a prequel. There is no mention of Jack or Grey or Jan in this book, but for those who are familiar with the series, it is clear where it is headed. 
Ash is a character who is not easy to like. He is both damaged and cruel and therefore there is this constant angst over whether he deserves to be punished or rescued. He works in a car factory alongside his boyhood friends Chase and Johnny. He has a very special relationship with both of them; sometimes a little bit more with Chase, but there is nothing they would not do for each other. Chase is as nasty as Ash, but Johnny is much sweeter. 
One night at the pub, Ash and Chase decide to play around with a couple of easy victims. One deserving; one definitely not. Their antics catch the attention of a man known as the Wraith. He is particularly interested in Ash and most of the book focuses on the challenging relationship they begin to build between them. There is sexual attraction there but firstly, there are seemingly insurmountable hurdles to overcome. Ash feels like he is being pulled in different direction with his Dad, his work and his friends. There is a shocking back story there and one that makes the reader realise what Ash has to contend with on a daily basis, both emotionally and physically. Is it enough to redeem him in the Wraith's eyes? It's a complicated turn of events that had me enthralled from the off. 
As always with Jack L. Pyke, this story is dark. It is not always easy to read, yet the book is gripping in its intensity. It drew me in and I didn't take a breath until the very last page - which of course is a cliff hanger, leaving me panting for the next book. The characters are typically untypical. The author has a particular skill I think in telling most of the story yet leaves enough unsaid to make me flounder a bit. I quite like that - it helps me relate to the characters; particularly, Ash. I'm literally gagging for the next book. I need to find out where Ash fits into the tapestry of the Don't series and of course I'm eager to reacquaint with old characters. 
If you haven't read this series, you are missing out on something really wonderful. I highly recommend Ash and the first four books.