Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 In this series the first four are a unit with a shared plot, the fifth is a wedding, the sixth is a misstep adventure (in my opinion), and this one is more related to the spin-off, Ward Security. In fact, if you haven’t tried the spin-off series, this might […]
I would rate this 4.25 stars.
This is not a typical full length Amy Lane novel; it is part of the Dreamspun Desires line and has to fit into those parameters. This is like reading those romances with the red covers when I was younger–you know, the ones with blazing heat you can get a subscription for and can read in about four hours? My rating is for what it is, rather than what it isn’t. Mallory is the finance guy hired by Tevyn’s grandmother Missy five years ago to take care of his financial future for when he retires or gets injured. Tevyn is a professional Olympian level snowboader. He’s young and has fun with whatever guy or gal catches his eye. With Tevyn being a client as well as a bit of a player, what chance does a ten years older, built for monogamy guy like Mal, have? Turns out, he has a really good chance and maybe Tevyn has only been biding time until he can have the man he really wants. Of course, now Tevyn has his own reputation to overcome. As Missy lays dying and a snow storm rolls in, their lives will change forever.
An emergency can draw people closer and tell you who they really are; Missy’s decline and the crash are just catalysts that allow them to be real about the things that matter. The reader knows right away they are in love with each other. In fact, everyone may know but them. With the author’s writing style, having both points of view enhances the story. Tevyn knows snow and emergency training from working at resorts. Mallory is the sensible, dependable one who is used to calculating risk so even though completely out of his depth, he is an asset to the team as they try and survive. Tevyn stepped up to show he is not a kid and can be a mature partner for Mal. Even though he is older, Mal lets Tevyn take the lead and as this dynamic kicks into place, so does their relationship.
The other great character here is the pilot Damien, who is badly injured when their helicopter goes down. Damien is former military and now works for a rescue outfit. Having Damien there adds a layer of depth that keeps this story grounded, ensuring that the crash is not an excuse for them to just be alone together or focus on sex. Don’t worry, there will be some steamy sex also but this is heartwarming and romantic. After such a traumatic event Mal’s business partner and friend, Charlie, tries to be the voice of reason about Tevyn, but the reader already knows there is no need. Still, it’s good he has someone in his corner.
Amy Lane is known for a bit of angst, but in this shorter format, I didn’t feel it. Even with the harrowing circumstances and the grief, the overwhelming notes here are of life and love. After five days where the survival details sounded plausible–the way they are rescued is not. I will say the end got a little too saccharine for my tastes, almost to make up for any of the actual realism. I really did enjoy this though and hope Damien gets his own story soon.
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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
This is my first book by this author and book two in the series called Until You, but can be read as a standalone. However, I think reading the first book would be best for maximum enjoyment. At the beginning Lucas and Ryan, who are famous from being on a TV show, are giving a press conference to ask for privacy as they take a break from whatever traumatic thing happen to them in the first book. Ethan, their personal bodyguard, is the focus of this book.
Ethan had been living under the radar, but was brought back into the spotlight due to guarding the two stars. There was something about losing his whole family eight years ago due to his brother. Slowly, we get a recap interspersed throughout the book about some sort of trial against his brother who was a serial killer of young girls. None of Ethan’s guilt made sense to me until chapter nine, when we find out Stewart was a cop also. I’m not sure if I would have known that if I read the first book or not. Anyway, the only reasons it matters is that the topic is part of a pivotal scene where Ethan opens up to Ben, and his reluctance to go to the police is more believable. Ben is our other main character. He has been Ethan’s colleague and friend for the last two years, and we know Ben is in love with him. Ben is also friends with Ryan. Lucas and Ryan obviously consider Ethan family.
Ethan has feelings for Ben, who somehow got shot and has been in the hospital. Because he is afraid Ben will be mad that he never trusted him with the truth about his past, Ethan basically quits his job with the agency they work for, takes a new private job as a personal bodyguard to Ryan and Lucas, and disappeared, refusing to visit Ben in the hospital. Ethan knows there is something there between them, but the horrible rejection he faced from family, friends, and colleagues in the past makes him wary of being vulnerable.
Cameron is Ben’s brother, a rescue pilot for the sheriff’s department in the town called Cody, where Ethan’s sister Maggie lives. She finally finds and calls him after eight years because she has cancer and her ex, Peter, took their twin girls Maya and Riley away. She was afraid to go to the police since Peter was raised in a religious cult run by Arnold Piper, who has enough control over the group that a Jonestown scenario is likely. Once the set-up is done, this book is an action adventure with a rescue mission. Things never have a chance to get dull–there is always something happening. While Ethan’s background is in law enforcement, Ben was an army sniper and they lean heavily on his experience to plan the rescue. This gives Ben his chance to show Ethan how good they can be together and Ethan his chance to have the real intimacy he has been craving. The men work out their relationship throughout the mission.
I love that Ben and Ethan do those cute, stupid things that couples do and talk about the stupid things couple talk about. Once Ethan knows Ben loves him, knows Ben won’t leave him, he falls into this relationship. The mission makes Ben have to open up to Ethan about his past in the military and with the government. The ethics here are murky, so if you like your white hats super shiny, this may not be the book for you.
We get a lot of information about the cult and I found one of the lines very apropos of our current political climate: “it was hard to convince people they were living in a shared delusion when they were still essentially living in it.”
A major player is Alec Banner, an FBI agent that served with Ben in the military. No one wants a Waco either, so the author was good at building the tension with the cult, but it was a bit of a letdown that all the actual action here with the compound happens off page. This makes sense though because we stay with Ben and Ethan’s perspective during the faceoff with authorities. Another major player is the cult leader’s son, Zach who helps them to save the children. I would expect a future book with both of these characters. Zach has been raised without any idea about different types of sexuality and seeing Ben and Ethan together is eye opening. I will say the author made me care about the victims of the cult and then we have no idea what happens to them; being rescued and thrown into a world they know nothing about off page.
Yes, Maggie living in the same town as Ben’s brother is a huge coincidence. Yes, the plot is a little over the top. Yes, it was lucky that they had help from former cultists just when they needed it. Yes, they are making out in the woods in the middle of a mission. So what? This is entertaining, cute, hot, and romantic, rather than realistic. Since I didn’t read the first book, Ryan and Lucas are two dimensional to me right now and I don’t know anything about the Krispins (they own the company Ben and Ethan worked for as bodyguards), who it seems will still be involved as the series moves forward. I liked this book, so I will likely go back and read the first book before continuing on in this series.
The cover art is by Natasha Snow. I believe it shows Ben with the wilderness they had to hike through in the background. It seems a little placid for an action adventure.