Rating: 4.25 stars
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When Sebastian Brambini meets a handsome stranger at his father’s party, he never expects that to be the event that changes his life. But that night soon opens his eyes to the fact that his father is even more ruthless than Sebastian knew, with a key role in selling a dangerous chemical weapon of mass destruction. Sebastian has always known he was not his father’s favorite son, even more so now that it is clear he is gay. But when Sebastian accidentally betrays his father to an operative tasked with recovering the weapon, he is shocked to find his father now wants him dead.
Kyle Grant has worked for years as an agent for an international intelligence agency. He expects this job of recovering the weapon will be an easy one, but things go off course and the mission becomes much more difficult. And it all becomes even more complicated by the presence of Sebastian. Kyle knows he should leave the young man to fend for himself; that is what his bosses are telling him. But Kyle finds himself unexpectedly attached the Sebastian in a way he has never been with anyone else, not to mention incredibly attracted to him. He is determined to protect Sebastian and get him to a new life of safety. But in the meantime, Kyle must stop the weapons sale, figure out who is really on their side, and keep the two of them alive.
I found this a really enjoyable thriller, though it does not break a lot of new ground plotwise. The hardened spy who falls for the more naive partner despite his determination to remain unattached and unencumbered is fairly standard in this genre, but I still found myself enjoying the ride. I particularly liked Sebastian, who makes a remarkable recovery from having his life totally turned upside down. Finding out his father is selling to terrorists and that he is now prepared to kill Sebastian in retaliation for Sebastian’s failings sends the young man spinning at first. But he is feisty and strong willed and even when things look hopeless, Sebastian never gives up. I enjoyed watching his progression from regular college student to someone who could stand up for himself against a killer. Sebastian quickly picks up on evasion and maneuvering and is very clever. He is sort of a numbers geek which I loved, good at codes and such. In fact, I wished this element had been played up even more, as I thought he is a nice contrast to the more physical Kyle. Despite the predictability of Kyle’s hesitance to get involved with Sebastian, followed by the inevitable giving in to the relationship anyway, I found the two of them fun and sweet together and really enjoyable.
The suspense part of the story was a bit more uneven for me. I really liked the way the story takes them traveling around Europe and think Andrews does a great job with the settings and the descriptions. There are a lot of adventures built into this one book, lots of conflicts and evasions and narrow escapes, and I thought it was all a lot of fun and exciting. I found some of the backbone of the suspense plot a little weak though. First, Kyle works for something called the Association, an organization we never learn anything about. It seems to be international, but it is not clear if this is a private organization or run by the government. Are they vigilante/mercenaries? Does someone hire them? Who runs this thing? Kyle is some sort of agent/spy/law enforcement type guy, but it is all very vague. I feel like a few well-placed descriptions could have made sense of all this but we really get next to no information here. [spoiler] I also think throwing in the idea of the director as one of the bad guys doesn’t help the plot much. I feel like it just sort of muddies who they are fighting against and it just felt a little tacked on. From reading The Argentinian Seduction short interlude story, it seems like the situation with the director will be a key focus of another book, so perhaps this is just here to start that plot thread. But it just felt a little muddled to me. [/spoiler]
Despite my quibbles, I did enjoy this one. I always like a good suspense and this one had some clever tricks and interesting locales, as well as some likable heroes. I am hoping for more for these guys and will definitely be interested in following along if there is more to the series.
The Argentine Seduction is a short story follow up to The Chimera Affair and is one of Loose Id’s Spring Flings. (Be warned there is a bit of spoiler here for the ending of the first story) It picks up a few months after the end of the first book, with Sebastian just finishing his training to work for the Association. He is on his first mission, to seduce the son of a Russian arms dealer and steal the plans for a weapon. Kyle is providing back up and can’t help but feel overprotective of Sebastian as he takes on a mission for the first time. But Sebastian proves he has what it takes despite not everything going as planned.
Romantically things are still going great for these guys, even though they have been separated for a while during Sebastian’s training. But now that they are back together, things are still hot and heavy and they engage in some public park during a rainstorm sex (as you do), as well as rekindle their relationship now that they are back together.
This one is fun and it was nice to see Sebastian taking the lead this time. The story did recap a lot from the first book, which slowed it down a bit for me, but that is perhaps because I read this immediately after finishing the first book, not months or even days later like most people probably will. If you liked the first book, I think you will enjoy seeing these guys again here, especially since this one seems to set things up for another book in the series (I hope!).