Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Cameron Jacobs is a waiter at a high end restaurant in Chicago. Every week he looks forward to the arrival of the mysterious man who sits in his section. The man always sits alone and orders the house wine and the special. He seems to know Cameron’s boss Blake, but never talks to anyone else. Cameron finds himself drawn to the big, dark, mysterious man, and eagerly anticipates even their limited interaction, despite not knowing as much as the man’s name. So he is completely surprised one night after months of this routine when the man finally talks to him, and even more surprised another evening when the man suggests a walk together after work.
Julian Cross is used to keeping to himself. He works a dangerous job with his life often at risk, and so he hesitates to get involved with anyone else for fear for their safety. Yet he can not resist Cameron, and finds himself at the restaurant every week just to see him. Against his better judgement, Julian begins to spend time with Cameron, and soon the two men begin to fall in love. But Julian must hide so much of himself from Cameron. He can’t tell him the nature of his job or where he is on the days they are apart. And soon Cameron becomes frustrated, loving Julian so much but still knowing so little about him and not being able to fully share in his life. As the dangers to Julian begin to mount, things become even more tense as the safety of both men is at risk. Cameron must decide if he can live with the secrets and pieces of Julian he can get, or if he is better off without the man he loves.
I picked up Warrior’s Cross because it takes place in the same world as the authors’ Cut & Run series, which I have been reading with much enjoyment. Although the characters do not interact at all in this book, they do all appear together in the fifth book in the series, Armed & Dangerous. So I was really eager to read Warrior’s Cross and get to know Julian and Cameron in anticipation of meeting them again.
The two men have an interesting relationship. On one hand there is a clear attraction that soon develops into love. Cameron is so sweet and good and lives a normal life. He is quite taken with Julian, and despite his terrifying array of injuries and obviously dangerous lifestyle, Cameron feels comfortable with him right away. But there is also clearly a danger that hovers over both of them. Despite loving Julian, Cameron is still plagued by doubts and insecurities, wondering what this gorgeous, sophisticated man sees in an average guy like him. And worrying about what Julian does that he must keep hidden, wishing he could share more of Julian’s life and truly know him. I could really feel for Cameron as this regular guy swept up in a crazy situation. He loves Julian so much, but is just not sure if that is enough for them to really be together. I did get frustrated at times with Cameron’s waffling though. One minute he seemed totally confident in his relationship and in Julian’s love, and then something would happen (or his coworker would question him) and he would be full of doubts, and this cycle continues throughout a lot of the book. While I totally get it, I also found it a little frustrating to read.
Julian was such an interesting character, despite being so hard to know. Even as a reader, we don’t really get much insight into Julian’s job or his life. Although details are slowly revealed, even by the end of the book I didn’t fully grasp what is really going on with him. But I loved the conflict within him. He knows he lives a dangerous life, that he sometimes does bad things, and that being with Cameron puts the man at risk. Yet he loves him so much and enjoys the chance to be a regular guy with Cameron. There is a normalcy with him that Julian doesn’t get with anyone else, a chance to relax and be happy. I did appreciate how Julian is honest with Cameron that being together could be dangerous and doesn’t try to hide the risks. But it is clear how much being together means to Julian and I liked seeing this man who is so tightly controlled be able to open himself up to love and a relationship.
The pacing of the book was a little slow to me. The early parts are a lot of Cameron and Julian getting to know each other in little bits as they see each other at the restaurant. Their relationship development is really the main focus of the story for at least the first half, maybe longer, until the suspense end starts to pick up and the dangers increase. And even then, the real action doesn’t happen until towards the very end of the book. I think part of the problem might have been my expectations from reading the Cut & Run books; I was expecting that level of intensity and excitement and this book just has a very different tone. But I do wish we had a bit more action early on and we learned more about Julian’s job and what he actually does for a living. That said, I found the last half to third of the book really picked up and the ending was quite exciting and satisfying. I also really loved the guys together. Even though there is very little on page sex, there is a heated sensuality that runs through all of their interactions. They are just a very hot couple and really drew me in.
Ok, are you ready for my ridiculous complaint? I went a little crazy with Cameron’s dogs. He has these four tiny puppies that appear in just about every scene in his apartment. But this is a man who works incredibly long days, sometimes 12 hours or more. Who is taking care of these dogs all day long? There is no way they can make it that long without being fed or walked, not as tiny babies. In one scene he returns home very late at night after being gone since the early morning, and he doesn’t stop to feed the dogs or take them out before he starts fooling around with Julian. I kept thinking, isn’t someone going to take these poor dogs out to go to the bathroom? And of course, once I noticed it, I couldn’t unnotice it, and then every scene they were in I kept waiting for the dogs to get walked (and no, they never do). I know this is a small detail and the puppies serve to show both men’s softer sides, but instead they just became a distraction for me.
Overall I did enjoy this one though. I think it stands alone totally fine as there is nothing from the main series in this book and it has a clear ending of its own. But I have been loving the Cut & Run series (and HIGHLY recommend it), so I am really excited about seeing Cameron and Julian again and watching them interact with Ty and Zane. So a good story with interesting characters, some small pacing issues, good excitement at the end, and dogs that need to be walked! Definitely enjoyable and worth picking up whether you are reading the Cut & Run series or not.
Cover review: Love the cover. I totally get Julian from that. And I love the colors and the tone of it.