Rating: 4.75 stars
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Manny Sullivan has always been the “ops” in Operations, the person at the center of all of Sanctuary’s communications and intelligence. As he is running a system check of all Sanctuary computers and surveillance cameras currently in use on the Bullen case, he spots Josh Headley, son of an important witness, away from the Sanctuary house where he was staying with his mother and handlers. In fact, the house Josh is sneaking into is the home of a prime suspect in the case and Josh’s interference can ruin everything the Agencies have worked so hard to compile against the Bullen family. Manny is not just a IT genius, he is also a seasoned agent, and he is the one to go and retrieve Josh before his unauthorized visit derails their case.
Josh’s entire life has been turned upside down by finding out that not only is his father a bad cop, his father also murdered an innocent woman for the Bullen family. That his father said he did it to protect his family matters not at all. In the witness protection program set up by Sanctuary, Josh is finding inaction and safety a bitter pill to swallow, and then he finds out that his boyfriend was using him too per the Bullen family instructions. He breaks out of the safe house intending to make his ex-boyfriend pay and to get additional information. To his amazement, a small but lethal Sanctuary agent appears to pull him out of the house and bring him back to Sanctuary headquarters.
Manny and Josh have a lot in common — both computer geniuses, both have troubled backgrounds, and both are gay, a fact that neither man has missed. Close quarters during a surveillance operation feeds a mutual attraction until it flashes out in a moment of lust and need. But one man is consumed by his job, the other destined for the witness protection program. As the Bullen case draws to a close, what does the future hold for Manny and Josh?
With Full Circle, Scott brings the investigation of the Bullen family to a close and gives us a 5 star couple to finish it off. Scott’s wonderful talent for characterizations shine with both main protagonists. Manny has been an ingratiating popup character throughout the Sanctuary series and now he gets the leading role we have been waiting for. Manny created a new life for himself, including a new name when Jake Callahan hired him to work for Sanctuary. His family’s Mafia connections led to the death of his parents and sister, leaving him completely alone at a young age. Using only his ingenuity and high IQ, Manny finagled a interview with Callahan at MIT, was hired, and never looked back. Manny is a wonderful mess of contradictions, small, introspective, highly confident in his abilities in a variety of subjects from computers to guns, and until now, content to be alone with his computers or with his Sanctuary coworker family. He needs an equal and Scott give it to him in Josh. Scott has created in Josh a mirror image that causes Manny to rearrange his thinking and outlook.
Josh is a wonderful character, equal to Manny in so many respects. Here is a young man who idolizes his father and loves his mother with a bright future ahead of him until it all explodes as his father is arrested for murder and it turns out that his father has been a corrupt cop on the payroll of the Bullen crime family for over 20 years. Josh has lost everything and is forced into hiding with his mother, a situation he intends to get out of. Josh is bitter and sullen even before he finds out that the boyfriend he was forced to leave behind was in fact just using him for information for the Bullens. Scott makes Josh very real in his distrust of others, hatred for his dad, along with the pain of a son who remembers the loving father in his family memories. Josh is hurting and lashing out, something we can all relate to and empathize with. In fact, he is one of the most relatable characters in the series, pain filled, frustrated, tired, and bitter. Josh is taller than Manny but doesn’t see that as an advantage over Manny. This is not a case of true love but rather an attraction built on physical need and the recognition that their mental intellects mesh rather well. I really like how true that felt. Looking at their backgrounds and their present realities, neither man is a candidate for an “instant love” relationship and the author doesn’t make the mistake of trying to give us one. Instead, Manny and Josh are realistically looking at what is possible for the future for them. Every part of the Manny/Josh duo just smacks of authenticity. Scott also brings back Morgan and Nik from Guarding Morgan, the first book in the Sanctuary series and the one that starts off the Bullen investigation. A perfect touch in a story bringing all events and people full circle.
Full Circle also brings to a close case of the Bullen crime family that started in Guarding Morgan. During the investigation into the Bullen family activities, several Sanctuary agents have been shot, evidence has been tampered with, people have vanished, each new lead taking them to new crimes and new accomplices until it ended with uncovering a FBI mole that had acted as liaison to Sanctuary in Still Waters, Sanctuary #4. Scott neatly ties together all the threads from each book into an ending deserving of such a convoluted investigation. I wanted to see the Bullens brought to justice and Scott delivered that in spades.
But this is not the end of the Sanctuary series as Scott leaves us with an escape and promise of more to come from Sanctuary and its agents. And for that I am grateful. There are several mentions of my favorite couple, Dale (a Sanctuary agent) and Joseph, a Navy seal, whose sister’s murder started the investigation. Manny mentions that Dale received a text from Joseph saying he was going deep with his unit for an unknown amount of time. They have a HFN relationship, the only one possible given their responsibilities, but Scott has given us an indication that there is more coming for them. And Jake Callahan, the owner and CEO of Sanctuary is due for his own story as well. So while it is goodbye and good riddance to the Bullens, more Sanctuary tales are on the horizon. I can’t wait!
Cover: Reese Dante delivers another great cover for Sanctuary, those models perfectly fit Manny and Josh. Great details all around.