Billy and Liam have been dancing around each other for a while now. So have Chris and Owen. Both sets of men are clearly interested in each other, but the guys are also being held back by their fears, insecurities, and concerns about the affect of their relationship on the other couple.
As stepbrothers, Chris and Liam have gone through hell together and for years now they have worked hard to support and take care of one another. Chris has been so emotionally scarred he only recently started even speaking after years of silence. Neither man can move forward in a romantic relationship until he is sure that his brother is ok and well cared for.
Billy was in and out of prison before getting his life back on track. He is a good man who works hard and cares about his friends, but he doesn’t trust himself. Billy needs to know that someone is keeping him in check before he can feel safe being part of Owen’s life.
And Owen faces the biggest hurdles of all. He has internal scars from bullying, fears about opening up and asking for help, and nightmares that still plague him. He has trouble even imaging that Chris could really feel something for him, letting alone trusting fully in a relationship.
Despite all their issues, these four men are a family. They will stand by each other no matter what, and that love and loyalty will help each of them ultimately find happiness in their new relationship.
Safety in Numbers is the fifth book in Jessie G’s Sizzling Miami series and brings us the combined stories of Chris and Owen, and Liam and Billy. These guys have been introduced in prior books and slowly developing their relationships in the background. This story brings them to the forefront in an interconnected way, as suits these two couples. (Just to be clear, this is NOT a menage, but rather a story that focuses on two couples who are emotionally connected). Liam and Chris have been through so much together and have been protecting one another for years. Being involved in the death of Liam’s dad and the subsequent jail time just cemented it and they are determined to look out for one another. Billy and Owen were in jail together as well, and Billy always looked after Owen. So even though we get the developing romance for each couple, their stories are intertwined and fit well given their relationships.
I enjoyed this story and liked the format. I think the author does a nice job elaborating on the backstories for these guys, bringing more to what we already know and helping us to understand them. Although they are all in various states of emotional recovery, these are all men who have gone through a lot and are still fairly fragile. I could feel for them and think Jessie G develops them well individually, even as their stories connect together.
I did feel like at times things were a little slow here as not much happens beyond watching these guys fall in love. And actually most of that seems to have already happened by the time the book starts. While the guys don’t really officially begin their relationship until Safety in Numbers, their emotional connections and sense of coupledom begin in previous books. So by the time we start things here, they pretty much jump from not dating to in love and ready for marriage, kids, and forever after. So we don’t really see the falling in love, more the growing relationship. These guys also spend a LOT of time talking about their feelings and issues. I feel silly saying this because so much of m/m romance I am dying for anyone to actually open their mouth and talk already. But these guys do a lot of analysis, reflection, discussion among each other and with folks outside their relationship as well. So it just added to the sense of things not really moving forward with much energy. A couple of issues come up, but they resolve (or don’t) fairly quickly. So I guess after the more action-oriented books earlier in the series, I wanted a bit more to happen here. Then again, the author is balancing two couples, which is a lot to pack into a book already.
One other small quibble is that I wish we got to see more of Chris and his decision to start talking. The fact that he doesn’t speak is such a big element in the series that I was looking forward to seeing it explored here. But he basically just starts talking and that is it.
Despite any issues, I continue to really like this series and think Jessie G handled this latest installment quite well. It could have been quite muddled dealing with four men, two romantic relationships, and assorted other friendships and connections. However, she does a great job of making these men distinct and developing their relationships both independently and together. I think things could have been picked up with a bit more plot, but in the end I found this a nice installment and I am looking forward to more.