Will is a rare book restorer in NYC who by chance meets Jean Claude, a Frenchman who runs his own security agency. Their romance is fierce and fast, with Will moving into Jean Claude’s penthouse suite after only three months. When he witnesses Jean Claude murder one of his own employees in cold blood, however, Will knows he’s been duped.
Fleeing for his life, Will reaches out to an estranged cousin living in Prague, hoping disappearing halfway around the world might keep Jean Claude off his scent. Now masquerading as Max Knight, Will must adjust to a new culture and new career, and hopefully not get his cousin John or John’s partner Karel killed in the process.
Hadrian Walls is an English ex-pat, ex-RAF pilot, working as a bartender in a pub frequented by Max’s course mates. Hadrian and Max experience a connection, one that’s unlikely and unwanted, pretty much by both of them. Hadrian’s been celibate a while, fixing himself after years of carousing and alcoholism, his way of coping with the nightmares that plagued him when he resigned as a UN Peacekeeper. He’s intrigued by Max, but his intuition tells him that Max has some big problems. Is it worth it to get involved? Max, for his part, is only beginning to work his way out of his self-imposed sequestration, and he fears putting anyone in danger—which means he must adapt to living a half-life. Spending time with Hadrian, however, reminds him how awful that would be. Why run from Jean Claude if he was only going to hide away forever, right?
This is a romantic suspense, with a slow-burn between Max and Hadrian. Jean Claude is not a man to be denied, and his pride will not let Will, the one man he’d truly felt affection for, escape him. He has plans for his errant bookbinder, and those plans also include hurting anyone who laid hands on his boy.
I really liked the suspense aspect. I generally do not enjoy random chapters narrated by people who are outside of the main story, but in this case it worked for me. With there being such a great separation between Will/Max and Jean Claude, and also with Jean Claude having so much power and reach due to his security contacts, it would have been impossible for Max and John to maintain any sort of tabs on Jean Claude’s movements. So, as the bits that I generally would not have liked were essential to building tension, I accepted them, and I admit they allowed me to enjoy the story more. There is a good bit of misdirection, some real cloak-and-dagger moments, actual peril, and an unlikely hero that kicked ass and took names. I had my suspicions, and was gratified that they were close to accurate. I also loved the rich detail of Prague. I truly felt as if I was there, seeing the fantastic architecture and tasting a rich boar goulash. The book’s pacing was excellent, with spare and appropriate foreshadowing. I never got the sense of being “handed” a clue, especially in the chapters narrated by Max/Will or Hadrian.
If you like romantic suspense, with a dash of sexytimes, I think you’ll really enjoy this one.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.