Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Viktor Zavodny’s first love growing up was always the Navy. Nothing and no one was going to distract him from that goal, not even a gorgeous 16 year old with a crush on him, Aiden Coleman. For Aiden, 18 year old Viktor was his first and only love, but Viktor determination to become a SEAL made him callously disregard Aiden, something Aiden has never forgotten. Then Viktor Zavodny left his family and home town of Steepleshend to join the SEALS, and a broken hearted young Aiden Coleman joined the police force.
It would be years before the men met again. Viktor returned home on leave to recuperate from severe injuries acquired on his last mission. The last thing he expected or wanted to do was run into Aiden. But again sparks fly between them only for Aiden to watch Viktor leave once more on a mission with his SEAL outfit. Now Aiden swore never again would he let Viktor back into his heart but neither man expected the danger that existed on the mountains above town.
When Viktor’s nephew is found wounded and unconscious in the snow, lying along side a dead man. Well the traumatic events bring Viktor back to town to look after his family and look into the events that put his nephew in the hospital. Handling the investigation is none other than Deputy Sheriff Aiden Coleman. Aiden isn’t pleased to find an angry SEAL in his office demanding to be included in the investigation, especially since its Viktor. In order to bring down the people behind his nephew’s injuries and the dead body discovered beside him, Aiden and Viktor will have to put aside their personal issues and work together to find the truth and maybe finally the path to each other.
In Worlds Collide (Sanctuary #7) main character Dale needs a bomb defused aboard a plane so he calls on his lover Joseph and Joseph’s SEAL team to help him out. The team bomb expert just happened to be a hot headed smartass by the name of Viktor Zavodny, caught in the middle of a threesome when summoned to the phone. That fascinating first look at Viktor Zavodny, the filling in the middle of a husband and wife sexual sandwich, was enough for people to clamor to have his story. That short glimpse into the sexy,confounding puzzle that was Viktor Zavodny made us want to know more about him and now Scott has given it to us. A Reason To Stay, the first book in RJ Scott’s new Heroes series, delves into Viktor’s background and status in the SEAL Team we got to know through Joseph and Dale in their Sanctuary stories.
I have to admit a real fondness for those “tough as nails” inscrutable men that RJ Scott writes so well. Having Viktor comes out of the same team that gave us Joseph gives us an instant understanding of the type of man he is and the skill set he has had to acquire to become a member of such a covert unit. We also know what a tight knit band of brothers this group of men have become to one another. And it’s become apparent (in the Sanctuary novels and here) that it is a unit in flux, members deciding to op out for a family and a life less defined by a mission and danger.
Viktor’s first appearance in this story happens when he is home to recuperate from injuries received while on a mission. He is tired, wounded, and able to see what he has been missing out on with his sister and his beloved nephew, Then he hooks up with Aiden and things start to get emotionally scary for someone with a designated life ahead of him. Does he come across as insensitive or a bit of a jerk? Possibly but he has never made any effort to cover up his priorities, no matter how much others may wish differently. I liked that about Viktor, he is not an easy person to like nor is that a requisite for his profession. Scott paints a portrait of a man on the verge of a change even if he is not aware of it himself and it works beautifully here in context.
Aiden is a much more accessible character because so many of us can relate to him and his history. Aiden fell early and hard for Viktor when he was sixteen and never recovered from his heartbreaking first love. No matter what Aiden tells himself intellectually, emotionally he is still open and very vulnerable when it comes to Viktor and their past dealings. So when Viktor returns, we absolutely get that Aiden is conflicted about his feelings for Viktor. Scott actually builds upon those complications and complexities between the men throughout the story and it makes for a more interesting and less idealized relationship between them. Trust me when I say this is not your heart and flowers sort of romance. That wouldn’t be realistic for these men or their herky jerky type of romance.
Another element of RJ Scott’s stories is how well she writes adolescents. Viktor’s nephew Ben has a rather large part to play in the events that unfold here. Ben idolizes his uncle and wants to be exactly like him, Ben is a wonderful character, fully realized and totally believable. And because he is so real to us, his safety becomes as important a factor for us as it does for Viktor.
For Viktor, Ben is a mile marker is his life. On the rare occassions Viktor returns home, he notices of all the changes in Ben in his absence. And those changes highlight what Viktor has missed out on as well as the personal sacrifices he has made in order to be a SEAL. Perspective is something that has been lacking in Viktor’s life and Ben is the one area where it snaps into place in a manner Viktor is able to accept. Again, another very realistic element among many in this story.
I loved the setting in the Green Mountains and RJ Scott has certainly done her homework as to the level of fitness and preparation required to take on a winter hike into that terrain. Not just there either. Scott makes mention of the fact that a sugar shack is where the maple sap is boiled into syrup. Again, another indication that this author has done her homework even to the smallest detail. Or the larger ones like the guns, explosions and gear needed for those wild assignments and escapades that happen in A Reason To Stay. There is certainly a lot of flash bang excitement for the buck (or should I say pound) here in her narrative. Several of the Sanctuary operatives make momentary appearances from Joseph (still a SEAL), Manny, and Kayden Summers. Its great to see them however briefly as I love that series and its characters and it made sense for them to do so.
What I loved about this book? The sheer physicality of these men and the sometimes abrasive aspect of their relationship. It’s hard to call this a typical romance because its not. Nor should it be. There is plenty of action, fights, nefarious goings on to along with the arrogance, stubbornness, and a determination that is almost cellular from Viktor as well as Aiden. Sometimes the testosterone is only tempered by the sweetness of the scenes between Viktor and his sister, or Aiden and his friend Sam.
The writing here is as smooth as a new fallen snow and the plot has plenty of layers for everyone to enjoy. What will some people have issues with? Probably the lack of a romance or romantic scenes between Viktor and Aiden. If you are looking for that sort of romantic story, than this is probably not the story for you. But if you are looking for an action adventure story with believable main characters with a turbulent history behind them and an attraction that just won’t go away, then you will love this story and Viktor and Aiden.
RJ Scott already has the second story, Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2), written. It will be released in June 2014 and features Sam Larsen from A Reason To Stay. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for him. In the meantime, pick this up and get acquainted with some wonderful characters sure to pop up in the next story in the series. Consider this another highly recommended story from this wonderful author.
Cover art by Meredith Russell who does a great job in depicting the characters and flavor of the story.
ebook, 267 pages
Published April 11th 2014 by Love Lane Books (first published April 9th 2014)
Books in the Heroes series to date:
A Reason To Stay (Heroes #1)
Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2)
Deacon’s Law (Heroes, #3) coming October 9