Under His Guard by Rie Warren #Review

Under His Guard by Rie Warren #ReviewUnder His Guard by Rie Warren

Series: #3 Don’t Tell
Genres: Dystopian Romance, M/M Romance
Published by Forever Yours on February 3, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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three-stars  

This is the third and final full-length story in the Don’t Tell series set in the post-apocalyptic future in a battle between a strict government regime and the loose bands of freedom fighters. So far the series has offered an exciting backdrop, intrigue, danger, passion, tension and that desperation that comes from knowing that the good guys are out-gunned and out-manned. An edgy, gritty and a highly anticipated release knowing that one hero considers himself broken and unable to take the love he is offered until it is too late when the other hero loses his memories and his life is a ticking time bomb thanks to the disease housed in his body.

This is a series that must be read in order like an ongoing saga since it is all tied together. A different pair is highlighted for the romance and character development, but the main plot involves characters and scenes that carry through from the first story.

And just as a side thought, this is a unique series in that the various romantic pairings are not all one sexual orientation. This one happens to be m/m, but the one before it was m/f and there have been m/m/f and f/f in the secondary plots.

The story opens with a small breather after the traumatic events of book two. The freedom fighters pulled off another minor miracle at a great cost on a personal level, but the regime they fight is far from defeated, only weakened. This is proven when word gets out that Leon, during his captivity, was infected with a time-release disease that will be unleashed on everyone if the rebels do not turn themselves in.

Darke has pushed Leon away for a long time trying to hold on to the memories of his dead lovers and not willing to try again even though deep down he loves and wants Leon. Darke’s final push away leaves him in a bad place knowing that Leon was captured, endured much, and lost his memories, but it was all enough to wake Darke up so that he was finally shaken into acknowledging the truth instead of denying it. Unfortunately, Leon now wants nothing to do with a man that rejected him even if he can’t remember all that went before and seems to only want him out of pity now that he’s dying.

The revelation about the Leon and the disease sends Darke and the others on a quest to locate regime leader, Cutler, defeat him and get the antidote before the disease can be released. Ambiguous and shadowy allies must be relied on with treachery possible now that there is a price on their heads and the promise of immunity from the disease if someone turns them in. Tight, dangerous situations with death always close takes them to the other side of the world even and brings the clocking ticking down to the last possible moment for Leon and the survival of the rebel cause. While Darke knows that so much more than Leon’s survival hinges on this, it is winning Leon back and saving him that has all his focus.

So, this was for all the marbles and the situation was definitely set up well for a tension-filled exciting finish. It even had a seething-hot romance that has been a long time building since book one. I was totally vested now that things were coming down to it at last. Cutler has been put on the run out of the territory, but still has a strong winning game plan in place to defeat the band of rebels. But, in the end, this story didn’t deliver in some ways while it really delivered in others.

I found that the author made some interesting and not necessarily welcome choices when it came to the dominant focus of the story and making this a first person narrative with only Darke as the narrator. I didn’t like being trapped in Darke’s head the whole time because he was focusing predominantly on Leon. He even admitted that he prioritized Leon over the dire situation going on in the world around him. As much as I’m all for a hero who gets possessive, protective and enthralled by the love of his life, its hard for me to appreciate it when the end of the world stuff is happening and the two spend more time scorching up the sheets than resolving their troubles anyway. I was also not too keen on having ideology pushed at me so hard that it drowned out the story. The ideology aka lesson to be learned in this dystopian fable has been evident since book one and I appreciated it as a reminder to us all, but it went from gentle reminder to soapbox status in this story that I was already struggling to stay vested in since the things that I was really looking forward to and the things I have come to appreciate about this series were lacking or diluted.

The romance which was Darke’s focus as I mentioned above didn’t quite get there for me. I loved the idea of these seeming opposites who really wanted each other and needed each other to get their chance. They just never seemed to be on the same page even though they both ultimately wanted the same thing. Up until this book, I liked what I saw of them, but I confess that their problems seemed an endless mess. I rooted for their chance at happiness when the resolve came, but it wasn’t a romance that really grabbed me like the ones before in the series.

Cutler was evil and I just wanted his reign of terror to be over. I loved that all the main characters from the series were a part of this last effort and I loved the addition of a feisty new gal that could be lethal Liz’s twin. The situation, with the enigmatic Denver who was Cutler’s body guard, but supposedly working with the resistance, made things quite exciting. The climax was when I re-engaged with the story and really started to care what was going on. Those big money scenes were pretty exciting and I loved the twists that had me second guessing whose side folks were on. The author really has a gift for writing those type of characters that can’t be figured out and leave you wondering until she is good and ready to reveal what they are thinking and whether they are a hero or a villain.

So, while I wasn’t blow away, like I was with the earlier books, I did enjoy how it all ended in this final story and will miss this series very much. The dystopian world, the plans and plots of a cold dictator-sort, the underdog freedom fighters and the scorching hot romances between tough characters offered a fantastic series and I would recommend it.

My thanks to Forever Yours and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

Discussion Starter

This series offered up a m/m romance in book one and then a m/f romance in book two with the heroine having previously engaged in an f/f relationship and then finally, book three had a hero who had been in an m/m/f relationship trying for an m/m relationship. It makes me curious. I know most readers have definite preferences in the orientation of their book romance relationships and this smorgasbord would be a turn off.   What are your thoughts on this? Or what are your thoughts on Dystopian Romances? Like them, hate them or never tried them?

Literary Pickers

Item Found: Tattoo

Cliché Klatch

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • It looks like a good series, even if the start seems to have been more enthralling than the ending. Your reviews made me want to read it 🙂

    • Yes, Iza, it was a really good series for me. I was really into the other stories that were fantastic. This one wasn’t bad, but it followed the others and it was the finale so it had a lot to live up to. Hope you get a chance to try them soon, but start with the first one for sure. The novella is the only one that can be read out of order and even that one needs to go after the first one.

  • This sounds so good. Seems like there’s a lot going on in this series and that’s sometimes a good thing. Keeps a reader engaged in the story.

    • Yes, there is a lot. There is the romances of course, but there is also the fight against the bad guys and some intrigue too. Very exciting!

  • Melanie Simmons

    I have no preference on orientation. I’m more about the characters and stories. I’ve read M/M and menage books. I’ve read very few F/F books, only because they are harder to find (I have many read books with F/F sex, usually menage, but little F/F romance). I won’t read the book just because of the orientation, so I’ve never gone looking for F/F books.

    • A story is a story is a story. Makes for the ability to read many good ones since you don’t limit yourself, Melanie! I’m the same way.

  • Sounds interesting. I like the Dystopian theme a bit, but I am not huge on the m/m and f/f themes. I tend to be picky about that sub genre, it has to be done very well for me to consider it. Loved your review though.

    • Dystopian was my new love last year and I get excited when I find ones I really like. Yes, being written well is a total need for me too. My first encounter with an f/f was a total disaster and I thought it was typical of stories written with that orientation until much later when I read one that wasn’t cliched about lesbians and focused more on the story and development of the characters.

      Thanks for the review compliments, Renee!