This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: M/M Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Samhain Publishing
Released on November 4, 2014
I’ve enjoyed other books by this author so I was eager to grab up a book in a new series particularly since it was a romantic suspense. I enjoyed the book for both the romance (if one can call beating up your romance partner with boxing gloves foreplay and courting) and the suspense (stalker with black ops training, exciting stuff). The two characters both have their issues and yeah buddy these issues crop up frequently and set things back in the relationship, but they bumble and grumble their way through it with the help of friends to keep them from destroying their own happiness.
However, that being said, I’m going to grumble for a bit so skip this if you’re not in the mood. I felt somewhat like I was jumping into a series mid-stride because this one is strongly connected with a threesome from a different series. I wish that there had been fair warning so I would have expected the tight connection. The blurb never mentions the returning characters or connection to their book. When I say strongly connected, I mean that the threesome of Styx, Law and Paolo received almost fifty percent of the page time. Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t read this threesome’s story or any of the books from the other series. I was given enough bits from their pasts to get up to speed eventually so I wasn’t hopelessly lost, but I was a tad disconcerted and disappointed. If I had know about this being a follow-up sequel of sorts, I would have set this one aside and read the other book first so I could get everything in order and appreciate this one better.
Moving along to the summary, the story opens with shop mechanic, Cole Jacobs, getting a chilling note from a stalker that brings the sordid past he escaped from into his new fresh start. His first inclination is to run and start over somewhere else, but his friend Styx who runs a PI business was there when he got the note and Styx insists on helping him. The help comes in the form of a belligerent man who doesn’t believe for a minute that Cole is in danger from a stalker. Too bad Cole’s body doesn’t get the memo with his strong attraction to Marcus with the chip on his shoulder. Cole is good at reading men and shrewdly guesses that somewhere in Marcus’ past someone like Cole burned him badly. Unfortunately, the stalker ups the ante and Cole has to rely on Marcus and the other guys from Phoenix Inc to protect him.
Marcus Lowry got out of the CIA before it finished sucking his soul dry to take up a job at a private investigation firm run by ex-military and ex-CIA types like him. His latest assignment leaves him upset and on edge. Cole reminds him of the guy from his past that lied to him and used him just to get at Marcus’ money. It takes a bomb that could have taken Cole’s life to make him realize that he read the current situation all wrong letting his past color the present. Cole is vulnerable and Marcus has a job to do, but the sexual tension between them distracts Marcus. He finally decides to take a chance and do something about it only to be hit later with proof that Cole may be exactly the type that Marcus thought he was.
The story moved along rapidly both with the encounters with the formidable and skilled stalker to the hot passion and angst between Marcus and Cole. They both have their reasons for the mistrust and snarly behavior, but I confess to a few instances just wanting to just smack both of them up side the heads to see reason and really pay attention to each other and not just their own issues. The three other Phoenix men- Styx, Law and Paolo- are a bit like the intermediaries to these two guys keeping them from doing irreparable harm to each other and the relationship which was sweet and amusing in ways. My heart went out to what all of these guys had experienced in their pasts to make them who and what they were. The time between Marcus and Cole spent at Marcus’ beach house as they felt their way closer to each other was the best part of the story for me. I loved how Marcus helped Cole begin to heal even if his wounds were very deep and would be an ongoing process. Marcus was up for the the process and just had to convince Cole even while fighting off his own demons.
I admit that while I enjoyed having the threesome and their hot and heavy bedroom antics in the story, I felt they overshadowed poor Marcus and Cole almost cheating them out of a better story of their own. For fans of the threesome, I have no doubt that was a treat to have them get such a huge chunk of page time- I mean, I loved them just from what I saw too, but in terms of this being a new story with new lead characters, these characters’ story was somewhat abbreviated and rushed. Personally, I think smashing the two romance groups together might have done them both a bit of disservice and they would have benefited from separate stories. All that stuff at the end from the big finale with the stalker and all that stuff from Marcus’ past just whizzed by leaving me holding a few strings that I wanted tied up a bit better. I wanted more development time for both Marcus and Cole, but particularly Marcus where most of the book there are just hints until the final scene which was fairly brief.
So while I really enjoyed and appreciated much of this story, I also was left somewhat wanting too. By no means am I saying this was a disappointing story as I am totally on board with continuing the series and reaching for many other stories from the author’s backlist. This book is for those who enjoy kinky hot m/m/m and steamy hot m/m romance and black ops- style suspense.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.