Hunter Cain works for German intelligence and has been undercover trying to infiltrate the Rivers crime family. Although he was determined to keep things professional, Hunter could not help his attraction for Will Rivers, the youngest brother and the one who seems least interested in the family business. Posing as Will’s bodyguard, Hunter spent lots of time with Will and the attraction only grew. Now, in the aftermath of the CIA attack on the Rivers’ home and the explosion that left Stacia dead and the family scattered, Hunter is determined to track Will down.
Will has been laying low, but now he has shown his face, knowing Hunter will come for him, and he does. Will shares Hunter’s attraction, but he has no idea that Hunter is anything other than a sexy bodyguard. Will is in danger as both his brother, Peter, and the head of a rival crime organization, Gatt, are hoping to use him to gain control of the Rivers’ criminal enterprises. And both Hunter and Will are pretty sure that once they get what they need from Will, neither man intends to keep him alive.
Hunter struggles to both protect Will (who isn’t all that interested in being protected), and to keep his role in the investigation hidden. It becomes more difficult as the CIA gets involved in the case, forcing Hunter to work with a team rather than solo like he prefers. As the team gets closer to luring in Peter and Gatt, Hunter and Will grow closer as well. Neither man ever expected to want the other for anything more than sex, but they are both realizing there are real feelings underlying the extreme attraction to one another. But Hunter’s secrets, not to mention the threats to Will’s life, leave both men in danger and their relationship hanging in the balance.
The Talented Mr. Rivers is the second book in HelenKay Dimon’s Tough Love series and follows shortly after Mr. and Mr. Smith. Although Hunter and Will are new MCs here, we meet them both in the first book and the connection between them was so intriguing in that book, I was thrilled to learn they were getting their story told. This book picks up a few weeks after the end of the first and Hunter continues to work with the CIA team of Fisher, Zach, and Seth. So although you could probably manage this one without the first, the plots and the characters are pretty solidly connected and I think you will get a lot more out of this one knowing the background on the Rivers’ family crime syndicate and the earlier parts of the investigation.
Like the first book, The Talented Mr. Rivers does a nice job combining the romance and the suspense sides of things, something I look for in a romantic suspense story. On the relationship front, the chemistry between these guys is intense. Sometimes when the origin of a relationship takes place off page, it can weaken the connection between the guys because you don’t see things begin to build. But here the connection between them is so palpable and between that and the glimpses we get of them in the first book, I had no problem feeling their relationship. There are a lot of elements in play, between two men who normally keep their distance, combined with the fact that Hunter is hiding that he is really an intelligence officer looking to take down the Rivers family, to the fact that they are facing mortal danger. Both men start off fully into the sex side of things, but remaining a bit reserved emotionally out of self preservation. But it doesn’t take long before they are both realizing that they have feelings for one another. I loved seeing these guys break down walls and open up to each other about their pasts and their connection.
The suspense end of things continues the story of Pentasus, the Rivers’ family criminal enterprise. Law enforcement now knows much more about the operation, but with Stacia’s death, they are trying to figure out what is happening next and who will step into the void. There are two competing groups — Peter on one side, and Gatt, one of Stacia’s confidants and head of his own criminal enterprise, on the other. Both want Will, but it is pretty clear both are using Will. So between the CIA team and Hunter, they are trying to lure these guys in and trap them both, finally destroying Pentasus, all while keeping Will from being killed in the process. Of course, Will’s life is not quite as important to the CIA as it is to Hunter, which makes things even more complicated. The story moves at a fast pace and there are some nice maneuvers and twists to keep things interesting. There is enough time for some romantic and sexy times with the guys, while still keeping the suspense end moving.
I am really interested to see where Dimon takes this series. I am not clear if there is more to come, though we do get some teasing glimpses of Seth, one of the snarky CIA team members, that definitely indicates an interesting story. But the main plot arc regarding Pentasus seems to be wrapped up here.
I really enjoyed this story and found it both sexy and exciting. It was a great follow up to the first in the series and I am really hoping there is more to come.