Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Special Agents Will Brandt and Taylor MacAllister have both left the DSS (Department of Diplomatic Security) after the events in Paris and now operate their own security agency. But things are not going particularly well for them, either in their business or relationship. Will and Taylor’s business is lacking clients and they are running out of money to keep afloat. Taylor isn’t happy that Will made the decision to quit and go out on their own without consulting him . Now it’s the Brandts that come calling and Will is expected home at his parents house as his younger brother isabout to ship out as a Marine and wants to spend time with him. The problem? Will hasnt’ told his family that he is gay and that his partner, Taylor, is his partner is all ways.
This trip home promises to be anything but a happy visit home. There is an “Cousin Dennis” staying with Will’s parents who isn’t his cousin and a past felon looking for revenge at Christmas time. Could things get any worse? Will and Taylor are about to find out while trying to save their business and their relationship.
Kick Start is the fifth book in the Dangerous Ground series by Josh Lanyon and the pairing of Taylor MacAllister and Will Brandt return in rare form in a story that finds the men on rocky ground, professionally and emotionally. Since the first installment, Dangerous Ground, the road to love and a relationship has been a tumultuous one. Special Agents and partners for the Department of Diplomatic Security, their friendship changes with one confession of love from Taylor who is then wounded hours later. While Taylor has always known of his passion for his coworker, it took Will a much longer time to arrive at the same conclusion, both about his feelings towards Taylor and his sexuality. Up and down, over but never quite out, these two men have doggedly pursued criminals with the same fervor they save for each other. Now Josh Lanyon picks up their romance after the events of Dead Run (Dangerous Ground #4) and deepens the issues for these men by separating them (by their choice) from the agency they worked for and placing them on uncertain ground with a new company that’s floundering and trying to set the parameters for their personal relationship. In Kick Start, these men have never been better.
Josh Lanyon returns to this series and his characters and infuses it with high energy and his trademark humor. I have always been especially fond of Will and Taylor and have enjoyed watching their relationship deepen and grow despite all obstacles thrown at them including ones they have created themselves. In Kick Start, Lanyon forces the men to confront the issues facing them, both about their floundering business as well as the problems surfacing in their romance. And there is no better time for stress and reflection than visiting the in-laws, especially when they don’t know they are the in-laws. Returning Will to the Brandt home, Lanyon affords the readers a glimpse into Will’s home life and his relationship with the town he grew up in as well as his younger brother. I thought that the dynamics between Grant and Will were very authentically crafted. Grant the younger brother forever in his famous older brother’s shadow, a little resentful as well as adoring. And then he finds out that Will is gay, shattering his image of his brother and making him realize that there was an essential part of Will he never. The resultant sibling explosion feels real in every aspect as does Will’s talk with his father.
Added to the changed family dynamics and their own evolving relationship, Lanyon starts throwing in complication left and right, including a local family of ne’er–do–wells called the Dooleys who just insist on causing their own brand of trouble. The author is clearly having fun with this surly,unkempt band of brothers:
One of the yahoos, dressed in woodland camo — complete with matching bandana — crawled out of the truck window and jumped to the ground.
“Is Brandt here?” he yelled. He was a big man. Some of it was muscle, some of it was flab, a lot of it was hair. Long black hair and long black beard. Altogether, it amounted to a sizeable and sturdy form.
Taylor relaxed. Not that he had really thought this was some country cousin branch of the mob come hunting Cousin Dennis, but life could be weird. He called back, “Nope. Anything I can do for you?”
“Who are you?”
“Who wants to know?”
The guy said impatiently, “I want to know.”
I’m Larry; this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl. Taylor bit back an inappropriate smile. First rule of visiting the in-laws: No laughing at the local wild life.
“And you are —?”
“Going to kick your ass if you don’t tell me what I want to know!” The big man drew himself up as though readying for battle.
Really? Taylor sighed.
The weary sound carried in the sharp, crystalline air and Larry looked a little discomfited.
You know this is just not going to end well for the Dooleys, as nothing ever does. It’s humorous and it contains media references that bring up sharp images that just snap a portrait of the Dooleys immediately into place. A lovely bit of character shorthand that Lanyon excels in.
Of course, there are gunshots, car chases and several inexplicable turn of events, including one very incompetent sleuth, that should carry over into the next novel in the series. You will find yourself reading along at a fast clip to keep up with all the action. It’s that fast paced, full of snappy dialog, a couple of mysteries, and of course, the love between Will and Taylor that just grows better and better. This is really my favorite of the series to date.
If you are new to the series, go back to the beginning, Dangerous Ground, for your first introductions to Will and Taylor at the start of their relationship. For those fans of the series, I know you found Kick Start a welcome way to finish out 2013. I can only hope that it won’t be as long a time before we see another Dangerous Ground story from this wonderful author.
Books in the Dangerous Ground series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that occur (the first four books preceded the start of my review blog):
Dangerous Ground (Dangerous Ground #1)
Old Poison (Dangerous Ground #2)
Blood Heat (Dangerous Ground #3)
Dead Run (Dangerous Ground, #4)
Kick Start (Dangerous Ground, #5)