Review: Still Waters by R.J. Scott

Guest Review by Melanie
Title: Still Waters (Sanctuary #4)
Author: R.J. Scott
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Length: Novella
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Rating: 4.25 stars

Adam Brooke is just coming off a Sanctuary case guarding a true slimeball and looking for some downtime when his boss pulls him into the largest investigation that organization has ever faced – the Bullen case. Sanctuary is still guarding the two main eye witnesses against the Bullen family and now the FBI wants to take over both the investigation and the witnesses themselves. Adam is to be the Sanctuary liaison with the FBI, a job he hates given the fact that the FBI forced him to resign after accusations he was “dirty,” his pain only compounded by the fact that his accusser was his Bureau partner and lover.

Lee Meyers is a straight up FBI agent assigned as the Bureau liaison to Sanctuary, an independent security agency in possession of two key witnesses to the high profile Bullen case. Lee is aware that his ex-lover, Adam, now works for Sanctuary and hopes the case will finally give him the answers to Adam’s betrayal in the past. Can Lee work past Adam’s animosity and Adam get through his anger and pain long enough to get the evidence both agencies need in order to solve the case? Or will their past bring the case down around them?

Still Waters continues the story arc of the Bullen family who are steeped deep in crime and politics. And with each book, the case against the Bullens gets more complicated with sticky threads like those of a spider’s web stretching out to larger events and more characters than initially thought. I love this part of the Sanctuary series. Just as you think Sanctuary and its agents have the case solved and the witnesses protected, another murder, another double agent or double cross pops up and all bets are off. Still Waters moves the Bullen investigation forward only to see the organization retreat in the face of insufficient evidence and increased pressure by the FBI to turn the case over to them. We still don’t know the identity of the FBI mole, but as a government agency the FBI has powers of authority that Sanctuary, a private firm, does not. So the threat of the FBI takeover contributes to the mounting sense of anxiety for the reader as the book continues. The threat the FBI poses is even more dangerous considering that the two men held in protective custody are Morgan (Guarding Morgan) and Beckett Jamieson, aka Robert Bullen. Morgan and Beckett have also both become lovers to Sanctuary agents and we have come to love both couples as the saga continues.

Each new book introduces us to a new Sanctuary agent and their potential/past lover. In Still Waters, we meet Adam Brooke, a former FBI agent falsely accused of misconduct by his lover and FBI agent partner Lee Meyers. I loved Adam. Filled full of bitterness at his betrayal by the FBI and the one person who should have stood by him, his pain and loss are evident in his caustic manner and aggressive style. Adam is a totally believable character in every respect, including his love for Lee. He hates that he still has feelings for him and it makes him cold and ruthless in his dealings with those outside the firm.

I think my problem with Still Waters is that where Adam seems fully realized, Lee does not, mostly due to Lee’s backstory. Lee comes across as naive and filled with an idealism for the Bureau that would be fitting in a rookie agent. But the storyline is that he has been an agent for years. For me Lee’s naive rigid outlook just seems unlikely for the seasoned agent he is supposed to be.  Also when Lee is promoted to the Bureau’s Internal Investigation unit early, he doesn’t realize how his actions would affect his agent partner/lover. Really? Anyone in an internal investigations unit knows how they are perceived by other members of the department. For the reader to like Lee, you must be able to empathize with him, but his actions with regard to his lover make that hard as does his continuing belief that Adam really is “dirty.” Lee just does not add up on so many levels, that at parts of the story I just wanted to see Adam dump him and find someone more worthwhile. I can’t reveal more about Lee and his situation without going into spoiler territory which I won’t do. I just wish Scott had made Lee a rookie, complete with rookie mistakes. That would have changed everything for me, including his believability and my ability to like him. So let’s just say I am in love with half of this couple. Of course, it would not be a Sanctuary novel without the appearances of agents from past novels, so we meet up with Kayden and Dale again as well as Manny, their IT genius.

But the real star of this book is the Bullen family investigation that is being stretched over the series. So make sure you read the books in the order they are written (see list below). This is the only way you will meet the cast of characters mentioned all through the books and understand at least the starting points of the investigation. Scott keeps one on the proverbial pins and needles here. Just when you think you know who the mole is and that the investigation is wrapping up, the author throws more mysteries at you. The criminals behavior is not what it should be, more shadow players are lurking in the background, and what is going on at Ops? Still Waters ends but the Bullen Families crimes are still being uncovered and nothing is wrapped up. I love that!  The next book is called Full Circle and it sounds like there may be more after that.  I hear rumblings there may be book with Dale and Joseph from The Only Easy Day which would make this reviewer’s day and then some. So here I am waiting in anticipation for the Bullens to be brought to justice and for Manny’s story. I am confident that Scott will give us another great read, and give Manny a lover worthy of such a great quirky character.

Cover: Artist Reese Dante. I love that there is continuity in using some of the same models throughout the series covers as the same characters popup in each story. Great cover, wonderful stories. Perfect matchup.

Books are in order they are written and should be read (all by R.J. Scott):

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