Shannon Dupree escaped from an abusive situation and made a life for himself. Even though he now has a family by way of his best friend Taylor and Taylor’s family, he’s still always looking over his shoulder. Shannon cannot leave his past completely behind him, but no one but Taylor and Frank know the secrets he’s hiding.
Agent Rory Landers’s life changed when the truth about his identity came out, ruining the future he hoped to have. But when he meets Shannon, he finds a new love. The two men quickly become close, and their relationship evolves swiftly. They love each other, but Rory knows there’s something Shannon isn’t telling him.
Detective Rand Davis meets both Shannon and Rory at a party. He wants both men, but having been cheated on, he will not infringe on their relationship. But Rand and Rory work together, and the more time the men spend together, the more Rand wants Rory and Shannon. And unbeknownst to him, or each other, both Rory and Shannon are attracted to Rand.
The case Rand and Rory are working on, a serial killer case, is a brutal one. And in one moment, their lives change. Shannon’s history comes out, and it just might be the thing to break the case wide open. But the emotional scars it could leave are deep. And the physical ones just may be fatal. The three men have been dancing around each other, but will their burgeoning love be strong enough to survive?
Okay, quickly let me start by saying that this book includes talk of child abuse and domestic violence. While neither is particularly graphic, there is enough detail that it could be triggering to some people. I won’t be going into detail here, but I will say that I thought the author handled it well. Now that everyone is aware, onto the review.
This is the sequel to Survivor and while all these characters and some of their history together were introduced in that first book, I think technically it can stand on it’s own. The author does a good job filling in the gaps. That being said, however, I think it has more of an impact if the series is read in order.
I really liked Survivor, so I was eager to pick this book up and see what Smith had in store for these three men. While I definitely had a few small issues with the book, I have to say that it worked really well. Like the first book, and the series name implies, one of the characters has survived something horrific in their past. In this case, it’s Shannon. The book starts with his escape, and it’s a heart pounding moment. I could feel his fear and desperation. It really drew me into the book and set the tone for the story.
The narrative here is alternating third person from all three MCs. As with Shannon’s beginning, we get glimpses of both Rory and Rand and how they get to the point where they all meet. I really liked having the background, and having read the first book, I was ready for the style. I think the author did a great job of fleshing out each character and letting us into their headspace. The characters, both main and secondary alike, were unique and each had a place and voice. Not always easy to accomplish, but Smith does a good job.
So for me, this book focuses a little more on the mystery side of things and not as much on the romance. I’ll get to explaining that a little more in a minute, but first let’s talk about the mystery. And I’m using that word loosely, because I don’t know what else to call it. Rory and his partner Connie are working a case, which then Rand—as a cold case detective—gets pulled into. It’s pretty clear to the reader right from the start how that ties in with Shannon, so it’s not entirely a mystery exactly. But how all the pieces come together is, and I thought here’s where the book really shined. The clues were all laid out, and I was really impressed with how everything came together. Nothing felt forced or unbelievable, and for that I was grateful. It definitely worked for me, and as a a reader who can be critical of “true crime” type stories, that’s saying something.
But the romance side of things was a little lackluster for me. The men had insanely great chemistry, and I really liked the way they all showed their attraction to one another without ever stepping too far. But it took a long time for them to finally become three, and it dragged out a bit too long for me. On top of that, the romance seemed to simmer in the background without ever paying off. Yes, the sex scenes were hot, but they were sporadic at best. I’m not one of those readers that has to have sex in my books, but here I thought it worked against the story. Because there was so much chemistry between them, not seeing it enough left me feeling like it didn’t truly payoff. I will say that final quarter of the book was lovely in showing these guys and their relationship beyond sex, but it came a bit too late for me.
The other problem I had with this book were the time jumps and then the “telling” explanation to fill in the gaps. It didn’t happen all the time, but when it did it was jarring and left me wishing I could have seen those moments instead of just hearing about them in a few sentences. This also played into the romance, as some of the scenes and emotions that I should have seen were relayed by one character after the fact. I think that’s why I felt a step removed from the romance and from some sections of the book.
But I did enjoy this story. Smith has crafted a great created family and I love seeing them all moving forward in their lives, healing, and finding their love. I also think the overall book makes up for the few issues that I had. Smith has a great voice, and the style of writing is generally descriptive and pulled me in. Definitely pick this one up if you’ve read the first.