Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
As this very nice series winds to a close, we revisit Anna’s partner, Natalya, whose brother, Arkady, is still in Russia and is being literally persecuted for being gay. He’s already lost his job as a professor, been ambushed and beaten, and now Natalya is actually worried for his life. With that fear as the basis, she approaches Jason Cooley, a young man who was retired from the military when he lost his leg and now works security on the Wolf’s Landing TV set. Her proposition is simple: marry her brother so he can have a green card to live in the US and he will provide Jason with his life’s savings—likely enough money to pay part of the tuition Jason’s gifted daughter needs to attend a prestigious private school.
Though Jason isn’t gay, nor does he think of himself as bi at first, he’s not a homophobe, and once he finds out that Arkady’s life is in danger, Jason steps up to the plate because protecting the underdog is ingrained in his personality. What Jason doesn’t realize is that Arkady is going to knock him head over heels in lust (and later in love, and all his plans to remain aloof are going to go up in smoke.
Jason is one of the most self-effacing characters I’ve ever met. He absolutely refuses to see the good in himself—whether on the inside where he’d do anything to help others—or on the outside where he is quite attractive, regardless of his artificial leg. Arkady sees it but struggles to get through to Jason. I found it very difficult to like Jason’s character. He was cold and cautious and constantly misunderstanding Arkady’s attraction to him. Yes, he participated in sex situations with Arkady, but he always seemed to think Arkady just wanted him as a friend with benefits.
Jason also didn’t interact with his five-year-old daughter, thinking she’d be better off living with her mother and her mother’s husband and that Jason would just be in the way. There were reasons for his low self-esteem, but it just reinforced how difficult it was to like his character. Arkady, though? Oh boy, he was a sweetheart. From the moment we meet him to the end of the story, Arkady is consistently strong and focused and once he falls in love with Jason, Jason’s rejection breaks his heart—and as a reader, it broke mine as well.
There were a few minor issues that bugged me in the story, including some of Arkady’s dialogue which was inconsistent with someone whose second language is English. Some of the slang and idioms he used, as well as pop culture references, didn’t ring true. So overall, though I liked the story, it’s not among my top favorites. I should clarify, however—Arkady is one of my top favorite characters—Jason and the rest of the story are what fell short of my expectations.
On the flip side, I’ve enjoyed this series immensely and have met quite a few authors new to me along the way. All of these talented authors have put together a world that I’m going to miss. There’s two more to go in the series and then we are done. If you haven’t visited the world of Wolf’s Landing, I highly recommend you at least read the first few stories. I suspect you may become as hooked as this reviewer.
The cover by L.C. Chase features a sunglasses-clad muscular man standing in front of an American flag while looking at a handsome man in the foreground. This is the perfect representation of Jason—tall, muscular, T-shirt-clad and wearing sunglasses. Ex-military—and Arkady, a slighter framed, young man glancing back at the man who’s captured his attention.
ebook, 217 pages
Published December 11th 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 9th 2017)
Original TitleOperation Green Card
Series Bluewater Bay