Rating: 4.5 stars
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On his first mission as an enhanced soldier, Julian isn’t sure to expect. The strange reptile men and the skin burrowing, poisonous spiders are not it. It’s not a place he’d thought he’d ever be. Pushed into the super soldier program by his father, Julian is only doing his job and living the life his father wants for him. But then there’s his attraction to his commander. Gates is everything that Julian wants, but he refuses to let himself get involved with Gates because that can only lead to trouble.
Gates lives for the job and for his men. His job is to complete the mission with his team intact, but then they land on a planet of unknown hostiles and government secrets. After losing four of his men, Gates begins to doubt his leadership, but refuses to turn back. Then there’s Julian, the rookie Gates can’t stop thinking about. But Gates refuses to cross the line with him.
But when each day turns into a challenge on the dangerous planet, Gates and Julian find comfort in one another. And after their lives are put in danger more than once, Julian and Gates, along with the other members of the team, must find a way to complete their mission even if help comes from an unlikely source. Yet the assignment is not what they expected and they’ll be lucky to make it off the god-forsaken planet alive.
This is the first book I’ve read by Chandra Ryan. It also appears this is Ryan’s first m/m romance (or the first that I could find). I loved it. Extreme Circumstances is the third book in the Universal Defiance series. The other books are either m/f or m/m/f (so far), but rest assured, if you are like me and read mostly m/m, this book is written as a standalone in the same universe as the rest of the series. Although, I’ll be honest in saying that I’m considering reading the rest of the series; one, because I want to see what happens, and two, because I enjoyed this book thoroughly.
So, let’s get down to what I loved about this story. First and foremost, Ryan created such a vast, amazing world here starting with the enhanced soldiers. Their rules, their procedures, their lives all combine to make these men strong and powerful, but leave them with vulnerabilities. Then comes this new planet. I’m telling you guys, it’s the stuff of my nightmares. The spiders. I won’t say I’m afraid of spiders, per se, but seriously these guys are freaking scary. You’ll understand when you read it. I’m so glad she didn’t add snakes into the mix, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. Finally she adds a government structure into it—a shady side and a trustworthy side, along with the Coalition. This, I believe is what ties each book together, though I can’t be for certain, as I’ve only read this book so far.
I am in love with Julian and Gates. Two amazingly strong men, they both have so many worries, so much weight on their shoulders. Julian fights daily with his past and his father, as well as to prove himself, getting by on his merits and not because of his last name. And Gates is a powerful, trusted leader. He’s determined and goal-minded. They’re both honest and noble men. What I love most about these guys is that in all of their physical, mental, and emotional perfection they are still vulnerable, not only to each other, but also to those accountable to them. They are perfectly imperfect.
The story is amazing. It’s exciting and fast paced. From the beginning, I was captivated by the actions and lives of these men. The author drew me in immediately with her words and engaged me by the heart pounding thrill ride of events that take off from the start. It’s absolutely shocking and fun. It’s a fast paced, well planned story. I loved the ride the entire way through.
So, you’re probably asking yourself if I loved it so much, why not a 5-star rating. Well, this. As much as I loved it. Love it. The ending left me with questions. Now, I’m pretty sure those answers—mostly about the government and the Coalition—will be answered within the series eventually. That’s not to say the ending was disappointing. It was far from that. The finale to the mission is explosive and perfect for this book. Like I said, I just like everything tied up in nice little bows.
With all that said, I’m sure you can tell that I’m head over heels for this one. So much so that I’m pretty sure I’m going to read the entire series. The characters are outstanding, the world is vast and creative with room to grow, and the story is a thrilling adventure. I sincerely hope this author continues to write more m/m stories. I highly, highly recommend Extreme Circumstances by Chandra Ryan.