Rating: 5 stars
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Aiden Coleman was his first love. Or, rather, Aiden Coleman’s first love had been Viktor. Viktor’s first love had been the Navy and a very definite plan for his life that didn’t involve Aiden in any way, shape, or form.
At sixteen, Aiden Coleman knew that he adored Viktor. To say it was love may or may not have been correct, but it didn’t matter anyway, not to Viktor. After one amazing summer together, Viktor broke Aiden’s heart and never looked back.
Two years ago, Aiden moved back to Steepleshend, Vermont to take a position as a sheriff’s deputy. There he ran into Viktor, who was staying with his sister to recuperate after an injury overseas. Sparks reignited and Aiden spent five weeks in bed with Viktor. After Aiden told Viktor he loved him, Viktor told him SEALs don’t do love and left.
Viktor Zovdny always wanted to be a SEAL. He left home and never looked back until two years ago when he walked out on Aiden. And in the past two years he can count on one hand how many times he’s seen his family, and avoided seeing Aiden. Back in the States after a near fuck up on his last mission, Viktor has a decision to make and thirty days leave to think about it. When he gets a call a few days into his leave, Viktor immediately leaves Norfolk for his hometown.
Viktor’s nephew, Ben, was found unconscious and buried in the snow a few feet away from a dead, clearly murdered man. Aiden is named as the family liaison and is at the hospital when Viktor arrives. With his nephew still unconscious, Viktor goes on the hunt for whoever is responsible for his family’s pain. When his captain orders him to work with Viktor, Aiden is frustrated. The attraction is still there, but the past between he and Viktor stands between them, a glaring reminder to run.
Finding a connection between the John Doe and two more mysterious deaths on the other side of the mountain, Viktor and Aiden find themselves in the middle of a smuggling investigation, missing ATF agents, and a deadly game of cat and mouse.
If there ever was an R.J. Scott fan out there, it is me. I am head over heels in love with her writing. I would be happy to list for you all of her books that I love, but you could save us both time by checking out her Goodreads book list, because those are ones I love. And with A Reason to Stay, I have added yet another book to my favorites list. This story is so well told, so exciting, and precious. I’m not ever sure where to begin, other than to tell you that you must read this story.
A Reason to Stay is a story of star-crossed lovers and mistimed attempts at a relationship. It’s also a story of mystery and intrigue and adventure. I loved every single thing in this story—from the broken relationship between Aiden and Viktor to the family dynamics in the Zavodny family, from the mystery of the dead bodies to the adventure up the mountain and the discovery at the top, from the struggle between what Aiden knows in his heart to the denial of every part of Viktor’s being. This is a story of contradictions, excitement, and happy endings.
I absolutely adore Aiden. Aiden Coleman is a man who knows love and knows what he wants. When he was sixteen, he knew he wanted Viktor and when he ran into an injured Viktor, he knew then too. But Viktor broke his heart and whether he did it on purpose or not, Aiden pretty much decided to not let himself get that close to another man again. And for two years, he didn’t. But here’s the thing, he didn’t dive back into Viktor’s arms and beg for another chance. He tried to avoid Viktor and when he couldn’t, he decked him, which I loved. And even though he was beyond angry, he still loved Viktor. He didn’t force that on Viktor, instead he made Viktor realize the need they each had for one another. I love Aiden for his strength, his persistence, and his never ending love for Viktor.
Viktor is an asshole at the beginning of this story. Certain that he has no room for relationships in his life, he uses Aiden then lies to him and throws him away when he’s ready to get back to his real life. But he’s not as unaffected as he’d like everyone, including himself, to believe. He just doesn’t think he is worthy the kind of love Aiden wants to give him. He’s a bit jaded and scared of what real emotion might mean for him. But he’s also afraid he’s losing his edge and that could mean his life, or worse, his team’s lives. So not only is he battling with his feelings for Aiden, but also trying to sort out his future as well as searching for the person or people responsible for his nephew’s situation. Viktor is beyond strong, but he’s also a bit broken with a side of determination and stubbornness that makes him all the sexier.
Their relationship is love/hate. It’s a tug of war, which makes it that much more captivating. I was drawn into their conflict, choosing sides almost immediately. Of course I chose Aiden’s side, but could see Viktor’s one-sided reasoning. I love the dynamics of this relationship, the love and fear that run rampant through it. The struggle only serves to strengthen the bond. And the fighting only serves the raise the temperature in the bedroom, because damn, these men are hot together, explosive even. I don’t go into stories expecting amazing sex scenes, if any, and there are only a couple here. But these two men together are hot, and it’s proven when they finally give in.
I love the mystery portion of this story. The whole “I did not see that coming” factor is huge in this book, because I certainly did not see that coming. The investigation is entertaining as well because Viktor’s stubbornness and Aiden’s frustration bleed into it as well. Neither make it easy on the other until they finally decide to work together. This part of the story had me glued to my seat, so to speak. It’s heart pounding. I simply couldn’t get enough.
This story is set in the world of Sanctuary, so if you’ve read that series, you will recognize some of the characters that pop in and out of this story, but if you haven’t read it, fret not. There is one reference to a Sanctuary story, but Scott does a wonderful job of spelling out what happened so readers don’t feel like they’ve missed anything. Plus, if you are a Sanctuary reader—and I suggest you do read them if you have not, only because they are that good, not because it will affect your reading this story—there are a few updates and we are graced with the presence of a couple of my favorite characters, including Manny. I loved Manny.
Overall, I loved this story. Everything about it. From beginning to end. It’s exciting and sweet. And the relationship is a struggle, but so rewarding in the end. I can’t wait to see what Scott has next for this world. Dare I hope Ian and Don? So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend A Reason to Stay by RJ Scott. And I wait with bated breath for the next in this series.