Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
This is my first book by this author and book two in the series called Until You, but can be read as a standalone. However, I think reading the first book would be best for maximum enjoyment. At the beginning Lucas and Ryan, who are famous from being on a TV show, are giving a press conference to ask for privacy as they take a break from whatever traumatic thing happen to them in the first book. Ethan, their personal bodyguard, is the focus of this book.
Ethan had been living under the radar, but was brought back into the spotlight due to guarding the two stars. There was something about losing his whole family eight years ago due to his brother. Slowly, we get a recap interspersed throughout the book about some sort of trial against his brother who was a serial killer of young girls. None of Ethan’s guilt made sense to me until chapter nine, when we find out Stewart was a cop also. I’m not sure if I would have known that if I read the first book or not. Anyway, the only reasons it matters is that the topic is part of a pivotal scene where Ethan opens up to Ben, and his reluctance to go to the police is more believable. Ben is our other main character. He has been Ethan’s colleague and friend for the last two years, and we know Ben is in love with him. Ben is also friends with Ryan. Lucas and Ryan obviously consider Ethan family.
Ethan has feelings for Ben, who somehow got shot and has been in the hospital. Because he is afraid Ben will be mad that he never trusted him with the truth about his past, Ethan basically quits his job with the agency they work for, takes a new private job as a personal bodyguard to Ryan and Lucas, and disappeared, refusing to visit Ben in the hospital. Ethan knows there is something there between them, but the horrible rejection he faced from family, friends, and colleagues in the past makes him wary of being vulnerable.
Cameron is Ben’s brother, a rescue pilot for the sheriff’s department in the town called Cody, where Ethan’s sister Maggie lives. She finally finds and calls him after eight years because she has cancer and her ex, Peter, took their twin girls Maya and Riley away. She was afraid to go to the police since Peter was raised in a religious cult run by Arnold Piper, who has enough control over the group that a Jonestown scenario is likely. Once the set-up is done, this book is an action adventure with a rescue mission. Things never have a chance to get dull–there is always something happening. While Ethan’s background is in law enforcement, Ben was an army sniper and they lean heavily on his experience to plan the rescue. This gives Ben his chance to show Ethan how good they can be together and Ethan his chance to have the real intimacy he has been craving. The men work out their relationship throughout the mission.
I love that Ben and Ethan do those cute, stupid things that couples do and talk about the stupid things couple talk about. Once Ethan knows Ben loves him, knows Ben won’t leave him, he falls into this relationship. The mission makes Ben have to open up to Ethan about his past in the military and with the government. The ethics here are murky, so if you like your white hats super shiny, this may not be the book for you.
We get a lot of information about the cult and I found one of the lines very apropos of our current political climate: “it was hard to convince people they were living in a shared delusion when they were still essentially living in it.”
A major player is Alec Banner, an FBI agent that served with Ben in the military. No one wants a Waco either, so the author was good at building the tension with the cult, but it was a bit of a letdown that all the actual action here with the compound happens off page. This makes sense though because we stay with Ben and Ethan’s perspective during the faceoff with authorities. Another major player is the cult leader’s son, Zach who helps them to save the children. I would expect a future book with both of these characters. Zach has been raised without any idea about different types of sexuality and seeing Ben and Ethan together is eye opening. I will say the author made me care about the victims of the cult and then we have no idea what happens to them; being rescued and thrown into a world they know nothing about off page.
Yes, Maggie living in the same town as Ben’s brother is a huge coincidence. Yes, the plot is a little over the top. Yes, it was lucky that they had help from former cultists just when they needed it. Yes, they are making out in the woods in the middle of a mission. So what? This is entertaining, cute, hot, and romantic, rather than realistic. Since I didn’t read the first book, Ryan and Lucas are two dimensional to me right now and I don’t know anything about the Krispins (they own the company Ben and Ethan worked for as bodyguards), who it seems will still be involved as the series moves forward. I liked this book, so I will likely go back and read the first book before continuing on in this series.
The cover art is by Natasha Snow. I believe it shows Ben with the wilderness they had to hike through in the background. It seems a little placid for an action adventure.
Published September 10th 2018 by NineStar Press
Series Until You :