Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Francis “Liv” Livingston was a beast. No matter if he wore a perfectly tailored suit or if he was in his tactical gear, people avoided looking at him. He was always first to volunteer for the jobs only a person with a death wish wanted. Tomorrows weren’t guaranteed. His boss had come to him and told him he needed him for a job. Linus knew the jobs he liked, but when he opened the file, it all went to hell.
Beauty was only skin deep.
Fielding Haskell made his way in the world on his looks. He’d earned his first film role before he could read a script. He didn’t want the fame. He wanted to go to college. He wanted a man who didn’t look at him and see how pretty he was. Unfortunately, a so-called fan only cared how attractive he was, and it earned him a personal bodyguard and a vacation. He looked forward to the break until he met the man in charge of his safety and wondered if the danger he left was worth dealing with a sudden attraction to a man who was colder than ice.
When I think of books with wounded, broken men, J.M. Dabney’s series and characters immediately jumps to mind. Indeed her moto “even the broken are beautiful” is applicable to all her stories, themes, and yes, people. It’s especially true in her new series, Trenton Security, and it’s first book and character, Livingston.
Essentially, Dabney’s interconnected series was finished with the Executioners but then something spoke to her (see her guest blog here) and the new series was born. A little darker, more suspenseful, and action packed, if all that is possible considering the series that came before. Boy, was I on board! Some had already made small bit appearances and I needed to know more.
Livingston is the first up and what a tortured soul he is in just about every way. Body and spirit. A child raised in a cult by a crazed mother whose twisted beliefs now are forever emblazoned in Livingston’s ruined skin and damaged memories by fire, he seeks isolation and perhaps, as his colleagues think, even death.
As one of Dabney’s more tortured souls, Livingston certainly ranks up there in the top five. A mass of scars inside and out, you can’t help but feel, not pity, but sorrow for this man who’s had such a hard life with no love or softness. Her ability to make us care for him, to bring us into his life and share a little of his pain is what makes these stories so notable.
All that changes when Liv is asked to guard young actor Fielding Haskell from a dangerous stalker. Fielding himself is in need of saving but in an entirely different manner. A cash cow for his parents and manager, love has never been a part of his life either, Instead, he’s been more of a puppet living an insulated, strictly controlled environment guaranteed to maintain his image and their control of it and him. In effect, someone who has been controlled all his life that’s it’s a part of him is about to meet someone who can never give up control of his life again to anyone. A match made in heaven or in this case in hell.
There is only a short time to develop the relationship between the men but you do get a feel for them getting into something real here. But the ending is HFN instead of HEA which makes sense given the timeline and the characters involved.
There is the mystery of who is the stalker and the action packed element of keeping Fielding safe (will they/won’t they…no spoilers here). I could have used more of this but only because it was so good. Definitely heart racing, white knuckle scenes await you here!
Also because of the age difference, there’s some Daddy kink here. If you read J.M Dabney, then this isn’t unexpected and it certainly fits in with the relationship dynamics and past history of the men. In short, it works here. Whether you find it sexy or not is up to you.
Is this a standalone novel? Not really. None of them are. You need to become familiar with their town Powers, Georgia, its history, its people, and it’s relationships. That means all the series and couples because they all appear in each others stories. The kids grow up, call the others Uncles. It’s a maze of interlocking relationships and it can be confusing if you are just picking up one book without any foundation to rest it on. I do recommend them all even though I clearly have my favorites. The list is at the bottom of the review.
So yay to a new series, Trenton Security and yay to a new couple to break your hearts and on their way to finding their HEA in Powers, Georgia. I can’t wait to see what the next three books bring.
Cover art: Reese Dante. This is an absolutely gorgeous cover. It speaks to the character and to the fact that he’s hiding part of himself. Incredible.
- Executioners – third series
- Trenton Security – fourth series
Livingston (Trenton Security #1)