Grant Baines runs a charter tour company, but he is also an ex-military psychologist who takes jobs for the government. His latest assignment is to evaluate FBI profiler Matty Sawyer to determine if he is fit to go back to work. Matty was romantically involved with a man who, unbeknownst to him, turned out to be a high profile assassin and who left Matty for nearly dead. Even though Matty has been cleared of any wrongdoing, he is still traumatized from the experience. Grant’s plan is to spend some time with Matty on his boat and figure out if the man can go back to work.
Matty is still emotionally fragile after recovering from Jaeger’s attack. He feels a sense of responsibility for not realizing the type of man Jaeger really was earlier on, and he is still haunted by the experience. Despite the fact that Jaeger is in jail, Matty doesn’t believe he is gone for good from his life.
Grant knows he should keep things professional, but he starts to fall for Matty almost from the first. Matty’s submissive side totally feeds into Grant’s more dominant kinks and it isn’t long before the guys are falling for each other. Grant’s strength and confidence help Matty to begin to heal and his panic attacks and anxieties come less frequently. But Jaeger isn’t so willing to let Matty go, and even though Matty and Grant have begun to find happiness together, Jaeger may destroy it all before they have a chance to be together.
Meridian is a quickly paced novel with romance, lots of heat, and some nice suspense. The story balances the relationship between Matty and Grant well with the thriller side of things as they deal with the threat from Jaeger.
I found the connection between Grant and Matty to be really engaging. The attraction between them is intense right from the start, and there is a mutual dom/sub kink that works well between them. The BDSM element is on the light side here, with most of it playing out as dominance and submission between them. The sex is hot and the dirty talk even hotter, and the physical side of things is intense right away and works really well. Emotionally, I felt like things happen really fast and I had somewhat of a hard time with the speed of their feelings. These guys are pretty emotionally all in within a couple of days of meeting. Considering they start off as doctor/patient, and Matty is coming from a very bad mental/emotional place, the fact that they fall so hard so fast is a little unbelievable. Not to mention Matty’s emotional issues resolve almost immediately upon meeting Grant as well. Although I found I could roll with it for the most part, there were times it pulled me out of the story to see them committed so quickly. But despite this, I loved these guys together and found them to be incredibly sweet and romantic, as well as sexy.
On the thriller end, I liked the way Crow works in the suspense side with Jaeger. He is a threat almost from the start, as we learn how he excels at escaping and that Matty does not believe things are over between them. So the danger is lurking right from the beginning and the ending is exciting and well done. The immediate story wraps up here and the guys get their happy ending, but this is the first of a planned series and I don’t think it is the last we will see of Jaeger. The balance is nice here between the romance and the suspense and I thought this part worked well.
I do wish we had a little more development on Matty’s backstory with Jaeger. We come into the story after a long trial that left Matty a public face and emotionally (and physically) scarred. The backstory is unveiled slowly, but I think a better sense of their history and relationship would have helped. I also wanted to understand Jaeger more, as he is almost a third main character here and their connection has a big impact on Matty’s personality. For example, we learn that Jaeger confessed to all his crimes after being arrested, and it seems like there is a reason for this, but we never learn why. Jaeger is also a kind of larger than life, miraculously escaping time and again and sort of being impossible to stop or catch, yet I didn’t really understand what it was about him that made him so clever and able to continuously outsmart authorities. Again, it seems like this storyline will continue to future books, so maybe this is something that will be explored more in other stories.
This book has a lot of side characters that we meet along the way, including Matty’s friend/coworker Rey, as well as Grant’s sister, uncle, and other friends. I thought these characters were well-developed and worked nicely in the story. They really enhanced my sense of Grant and his life and the community in which he lives. There may have been a bit too much going on with all of them for a book of this length, but overall I think they were well developed and worked well with the story.
So I really enjoyed Meridian quite a lot and am really eager to see where Crow takes this series. I found Matty and Grant to be both really romantic and quite sexy together and enjoyed their connection, despite feeling like things move too fast for total believability. The suspense angle is well built and Crow does a nice job both resolving this story, and also leaving lots of room for things to develop in future books. So I liked this one a lot and would recommend it to both those who like sexy relationships with some light kink, as well as those who enjoy some light thriller/suspense.