Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
This starts three days after the events of the previous book and focuses on Zach, the cult leader’s son, who was rescued during an FBI raid on the compound. He may have had a crush on Ben for helping rescue him, but it’s Ben’s brother Cameron who is helping him now by giving him a place to stay. Since he’s grown up in a cult, he really doesn’t know how to deal with the modern world and needs help navigating his new reality. Also, the legal issues are just beginning as the FBI questions all the cult members in order to get evidence on the men they arrested, including “Father” Piper. Many of the cultists are brainwashed and hate Zach for trying to help save them from being killed.
The fun parts of this book are really all of Zach’s firsts: candy, popcorn, movie theater, plane, ocean–yes, other firsts too. This will appeal to readers who like the hurt/comfort trope. Often, it’s Cameron who seems most hurt by some past event. Having Cameron be the one who is scared, unsure, and flustered by Zach’s advances makes it work for me in a way it wouldn’t if Cameron were the aggressor. It would be difficult to get past the idea that Zach was being taken advantage of. It also helps there’s only an 8 year age difference. I like that Cameron trusts his brother Ben enough to talk about his past: that this book can portray a strong, successful rescue pilot without the toxic masculinity. I liked them both as characters, but I felt Cameron was not as well written as Zach. I wanted them to have their happy ending because that’s what you expect in a romance, but I wasn’t really emotionally invested in it. Both Cameron and Zach fight their own demons, which is as it should be–no one can fix everything for you.
Cameron tries pushing Zach away, but when Cameron’s past has come back to haunt him and Zach is in danger all bets are off. In comparison with book two, the action sequences are contained here. The story really splits nicely into three parts: Zach adjusting to the world while Cameron fights his attraction to Zach, Zach’s rescue, and then the conclusion of Zach dealing with his mother and father. This works well and flows nicely. This book also does a better job of recapping in a way that you could read it as a standalone, but it is really a continuation of book two. In fact, at this point book one is the anomaly except that Lucas and Ryan are funding the adventures.
Lucas, Ryan, Ben, and Ethan have started an investigation firm to help find missing children. Zach wants to work with them to help, so I expect Cameron will too. The next book seems like it’s going to feature Alec finally, the now former FBI agent we met in book two. This series seems like it will go back into the action adventure mode previously established, but it was nice to get a bit of a breather here–there was action, but it was a smaller part of the overall story about two men who want to move on with their lives and leave their bad past behind.
The cover art is by Natasha Snow. The models’ pose with the jacket is a little strange but I like the rest of the cover. The bottom has echos of Zach’s nightmares. With Cameron being a helicopter pilot and Zach wanting to learn, it has the look of them flying off into the sunset together.
Published October 29th 2018 by NineStar Press
Series Until You #3