After multiple brushes with death, it is clear to Marc Foster that someone is trying to kill him and it is most likely one of his siblings. He doesn’t want to involve the police, so Marc goes to Ward Security to hire a bodyguard and ends up with the sexy Royce Karras assigned to his case. Marc needs an excuse for Royce’s constant presence that won’t arouse suspicion, so they decide that Royce should play the part of Marc’s new live-in boyfriend.
Royce keeps himself at a distance from everyone, even those who are his friends, so he doesn’t expect anything different working with Marc. But Royce is surprised how much he likes Marc, and the attraction between them is fierce and mutual. Royce finds it impossible to hold out against his feelings for Marc, even as he knows that Marc is way too good for him. Royce has a rough past and he is determined to keep Marc at a distance. And after losing his lover tragically, Royce has no interest in getting romantically involved with anyone again anyway. But that doesn’t stop the men from giving in to the chemistry between them.
However, when Royce’s past resurfaces, he realizes that he has more people in his corner than he ever imagined. His friends and co-workers, not to mention Marc, are eager to be there to support him, if only Royce will let them. Now Royce has to decide if he can put his past behind him and open himself up, or if he is going to ruin what he and Marc have built.
Deadly Dorian is the third book in Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott’s Ward Security series. While we met Royce in Dantès Unglued and we have appearances here from other series characters (as well as some from the authors’ Unbreakable Bonds series), you can easily follow along with this story without having read the other books. I found Royce an intriguing character in Dantès Unglued as we see how warm and open he can be through his friendship with Quinn, but also how reserved he is and generally uncomfortable sharing too much of himself with others. So I was eager here to learn his backstory, as well as to see who could break down those walls Royce keeps around him. I liked Royce and Marc together and the authors do a great job showing the chemistry between them. These guys have such a strong connection, you can really feel it as they are so drawn together right from the start. While Royce is wary as he doesn’t think he is right for Marc, as a reader it is clear that are a good fit for each other.
The suspense side of things rests on two plots, one regarding the attempts on Marc’s life, and the other on someone from Royce’s past who comes back and threatens his family and his happiness. In some ways I liked that the story focuses on both men and multiple suspense angles, but I do feel it left the bodyguard storyline somewhat weakened. On the Royce end, not only does he have to confront his past, but he also must face the reality that he can’t do it all alone. He doesn’t just need his friends/coworkers, but they truly want to be there for him. Despite the book’s set up, this subplot takes a primary role in the story and I think it comes together well (with the exception of a dash to Europe to engage in art theft that seemed incredibly unrealistic on several fronts). But as a result, I felt like Marc facing a murderer just kind of languishes in the background. Things start off intense as we see all the security measures in place and the actions Royce is taking to protect him. But then this sort of fades away for most of the book until it comes back at the very end, without a lot of foundation for who is behind it and why. So I do think this part of the story could have been stronger.
Overall I liked this one quite a lot and am really enjoying this series. The authors do a nice job mixing the suspense and the romance and there is a great cast of characters. I am definitely looking forward to more.