Rating: 4 stars
Sebastian “Bastian” Grey has been asking his lover Rick Claremont for more, more time spent together, more commitment, heck, he would even settle for Rick letting him into Rick’s house but Rick has always pushed him away. But now Rick is adopting a small kitten. Can making one type of commitment mean that Rick is ready to make another? Bastian can only hope that this might mean a new step forward in the relationship with a man he has wanted since Bastian was 16.
Rick Claremont came from an abusive childhood so trust has never come easy. Rescued by Bastian’s older sister, he has watched Bastian grow up into a gorgeous man but one who takes risks all the time, in work and pleasure. It doesn’t matter whether Bastian is running into burning buildings or jumping off sky jumps at mountain resorts, his life is always at jeopardy and Rick is hesitant to give his heart to someone who might not be around to make a relationship work. Then a decision to get a kitten leads to thoughts of taking down some of the barriers that have kept the men from a deeper commitment. Can Rick trust Bastian to stay safe and help him feel safe too?
This is the fifth book in the Truth or Dare series by Lee Brazil and the only one I have read to date. The series seems to revolve around the Blake brothers and the people they fall in love with the exception of this one. Risking It All is the story of Sebastian Grey, Dr. Arden Grey’s brother, and Rick Claremont, a young boy she rescued from an abusive life. Without having the foundation of the other books I was still able to enjoy Bastian and Rick’s story and get an understanding of each man’s history. This is especially true for Rick Claremont whose past is horrific from every angle. Father left, alcoholic mother died leaving him in the care of an abusive stepfather who was a monster. I felt Rick had depth to his character and liked how Brazil created a character who is dealing effectively with his past abuse. Too often we are given stories populated by characters broken by their past, it was a nice change to be given someone who has surmounted his past and we get a glimpse into how he has achieved this remarkable goal. I found Rick believable, likable, and totally someone I become fond of immediately.
Bastian Grey was a little more problematic as his story is most likely told with his sister’s, Dr. Arden Grey, in Giving Up (Truth or Dare #4). I would not necessarily have known he was a firefighter but I liked his “voice” and found his frustration with the status of his relationship with Rick so realistic I could almost hear his teeth grind. You could see how his impulsive nature could give Rick second thoughts when it came to trusting himself into Bastian’s care but his inherent “goodness” is also on display as well. I would have liked to see more of Bastian’s story included here for those of us unfamiliar with the series.
There is an element of mystery when Rick’s stepfather is murdered and Rick finds himself among the suspects, however temporarily. The end of the book becomes overcrowded with characters I didn’t know or care about (perhaps from previous books) and I felt their addition obscured the relationship building between Rick and Bastian. This is a novella in length but the characters and storyline almost cry out for a full length novel. The characters are wonderfully human displaying the full spectrum of behavior, from impulsiveness of Bastian to the wary attitude of Rick. I would have loved much more of them and it gives me the impetus to look into how the series all started.
Cover: Victoria Miller gives us a beautifully dark cover in keeping with the dark elements of the story. I loved the use of green in the fonts which really made the title and the author’s name stand out.
Truth or Dare Series, in the order they were written:
Keeping House, #1 – Mischa Blake and Donovan Holloway, m/m
Telling the Truth, #2 – Terry Blake and Twins Dex and Trick, m/m/m
Giving Up, #3 – Branden Blake and Dr. Arden Grey m/f
Taking the Dare, #4 – Dan Blake and Morgan Hawk,m/m
Risking it All, #5 – Bastian Grey and Rick Claremont m/m