rise and fallStory Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars

Narrator: Mark Westfield
Length: 8 hours, 47 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Dex is racing to the hospital to reach his boyfriend, Sloane, and find out just how bad the damage is from the explosion. The one that should have gotten him or Ash instead, as it was planted by the Ikelos Coalition for retribution. The Coalition isn’t going to stop until it sees through its revenge, and everyone, including the THIRDS, are in the path of their destruction.

As soon as Dex is assured that Sloane is going to be okay, he turns his focus to the mission. But when Destructive Delta is taken off the case, and in fact relieved of duty, Dex is furious. No one knows the situation better than him and his team. Even though they aren’t at full strength with Sloane injured and Ash still recovering. But Dex isn’t going to let a little thing like orders stop him from working the case. He will do whatever he has to in order to protect his family, and he considers Sloane and the team his family. Dex knows how to follow leads the old fashioned way, without the fancy gadgets at THIRDS disposal, and he holes up to work the case and find answers. But he also decides to keep it from Sloane, believing that he’s protecting his boyfriend. In the process, he’s away from Sloane during his recovery. And Sloane isn’t so happy with Dex being so secretive. Not to mention he’s suddenly having trouble controlling his jaguar. The animal inside him doesn’t like the danger that Dex is facing either.

With each new lead that Dex finds, and the closer he gets to getting the coalition leader, the harder it is for him to keep his head. His need for retaliation is growing with each passing day. Dex is determined to keep Sloane safe, and he’s determined to do it on his own. Fortunately he sees reason before he’s too far gone, and he confides in Sloane and enlists the help of his team. Together they prepare to take down the coalition. But their enemy is cunning and fierce, and one of them is put in dire jeopardy. Now the team has to do what they do best, or risk losing one of their own.

I’m amazed at how each book in this THIRDS series builds on the one before. This is the fourth book, and it still feels fresh and new, while also feeling familiar. Dex, Sloane, and all the others are now characters we know well. And while this story line is a continuation of what has been building since the beginning, it doesn’t feel tired or trite. I think that was due to the really clever pacing. Not only is the mystery unfolding but also Dex and Sloane’s romance is cementing. Cochet does a really great job about giving each aspect their due, and the story lines run concurrently and are so perfectly interwoven.

Dex and Sloane are really moving toward commitment in this book, and with Sloane’s grave injury, it makes perfect sense. Sloane has been holding back a bit, not really able to fully invest himself. But having a near death experience is exactly what he needs to make that leap into a full relationship. What I particularly loved was that it was so fitting for Sloane. He’s the kind of guy that something like this, this big, was the only way he could get over that last hurdle. His love for Dex was not in question, but he needed something huge to be able to commit. I continue to love their evolving relationship, and watching them fall in love and battle for permanence has been very rewarding. I like that things are way more settled for them in the romance department by the end of the book. We also got to see some development in other secondary relationships. Ash and Cael, as well as Calvin and Hobbs, each have their moments and that really adds to the story arc as a whole.

As I said, the romance is perfectly interwoven with the mystery and investigation plot line. We never spend too long with one or the other, and it’s wonderfully paced. I was intrigued as the clues were being doled out, as Dex discovered each bit of information he needed. The action scenes were intense and had me on the edge of my seat. For lovers of investigation stories, I can tell you that this might feel just a bit predictable. But I have to say that it totally worked here. Each step taken by the bad guy was, honestly, exactly what a guy of his personality and intelligence would do. It was very well done, and though I wasn’t exactly surprised by any of it, I found great satisfaction in not only the telling of it, but also the resolution.

Listen to this on audio. Listen to this entire series. Mark Westfield is perfect for the narration, and he does a fantastic job bringing this story to life. What continues to amaze me is just how fitting his voice is for the story. His talent in bringing the right amount of emotion to any scene makes me feel the story even more than if I had read it. He captures the characters so perfectly, each emotion presented in the perfect way. There were a few small moments in this one where Dex and Sloane again got too similar sounding. But really, this is an outstanding audio book. This one was, at times, a little heavier on the emotion than action, and Westfield flawlessly depicts that emotion so well. He also transitions smoothly between the two kinds of scenes, and really makes the action feel like its taking place right in front of you. So yeah. I loved the narration, it took a really good story and made it great, and I can’t recommend it enough.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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