Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken. When Staff Sergeant Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and his letters to Gage went unanswered.
Now in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation. He’s almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure—then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.
When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades, or will hope only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—that others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty.
I have to admit that as much as I thoroughly enjoyed Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson I have been going back and forth over the rating for this review. Sigh. I hate it when that happens. Pure entertainment value over elements that just stopped me in my tracks mid or end story that are jerking me back and forth here. So let’s start off with the wonderful shall we?
The wonderful is the couple at the center of Hell and Back, Forge Reynolds and Gage Livingston, two men who meet under the most stressful conditions when enlisted and then lose track of one another. Two of my favorite tropes is lovers reunited and second chance at love, both of which are beautifully covered here. Greyson delivers a frightening scene, plus all the emotional impact of a reunion we could ask for and more. I just fell in love with both characters and stayed that way.
It also helped that Greyson let Forge work through his emotions over his ex/dead husband with Gage. To totally abandon those feelings and ignore “the body” as it were would have done the men an injustice as well as the romance and relationship that the author is so carefully building up. No the romance and the couple are the glue that holds this story together for me. I adored them and the danger that the author puts them in, especially Forge, creates an anxiety and suspense for the reader that doesn’t let up until the end.
No, for me where the story falls apart is the criminal element, the police work, and shockingly, Forge’s action’s towards a criminal at the end, in the presence of law enforcement agents (of many agencies, mind you) that would never, ever, be allowed to happen. It would compromise their case and I was absolutely floored it was in there. Especially after a scene of beautiful restraint earlier that was so much better. If you are going to have such an elaborate criminal structure, why not make it as great as your love story? And why ruin it with that gesture that would never fly past any agency? Especially those that, in the author’s own words had worked years to put those men away? Made no sense whatsoever. There are other nitpicky things about hard drives that I thought Gage or someone should have picked up on. But the huge thing? The story never recovered after that.
I read the epilogue which was lovely, but I never recovered my connection which was a shame. I did wish I could see that desk and jade puzzle box though.
If you are a fan of Dirk Greyson, then this is a story for you. If you love romance, second chance at love and lovers reunited, then perhaps again this is a story for you. But for those who love police procedurals, crime stories, and law enforcements action adventure? Maybe not. I’ll leave it up to you.
Cover art by L. C. Chase is terrific. Colorful and eye-catching. Love it.
ebook, 200 pages
Published October 27th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English