Russell “Red” McKinley is one of the Kings, co-owners of the elite Four Kings Security agency. Along with his fellow Kings, Red is former special forces and is now acclimating to civilian life. Red still bears some emotional scars from his service, however, and memories of harrowing events leave him with nightmares and PTSD.
While working a case, Red met fashion photographer Lazarus Galanos. Red thought there might be something between him and Laz, especially as the man stayed with him in the hospital when he was injured. But Laz took off before they could even talk and now Red isn’t sure what is happening between them.
Laz just got off a bad breakup. Not only did his ex cheat on him, but he ruined Laz’s sense of self worth with his constant criticism. Laz is definitely interested in Red, but he isn’t sure getting involved again is a good idea. However, when there is a shooting and it looks like Laz may be the target, Laz agrees to Red’s protection while they try to figure out who is behind the attack and why.
As the men spend more time together, their relationship deepens and they act on their attraction. It seems like there could be something real growing between them. But Laz has to get past his fears and trust in what he is building with Red. And with a killer on the loose, the men must figure out who is behind it before lives are lost.
Be Still My Heart is the second book in Charlie Cochet’s Four Kings Security series. We met both Red and Laz in that first book and got a glimpse of their attraction to one another, so I was excited to see their story here. This book has a lot of the same fun playfulness I enjoyed in the first book, with a nice sense of friendship and camaraderie among the characters and a strong sense of brotherhood from the Kings. I liked seeing the strength of their connections and the way they all worked and played together as a team. Red and Laz are sweet and sexy together and I enjoyed the growth of their relationship from the small seeds we saw in the first book. They get together fairly easily, but each has some emotional demons they are battling that cause some stumbling blocks for them. I enjoyed watching their relationship develop and seeing each man gain support and strength from the other.
I did wish we got some more action here. The story sets up with a threat on Red’s life and he is in perceived danger throughout the book. But after the initial scene where Laz is threatened, the suspense end of things is pretty much backburnered for most of the book. Technically, the case is still going on and we get bits and pieces along the way, but considering this is a story about a bodyguard and a man whose life is in danger, there is very little in the way of suspense. Maybe my expectations are too high, but given the series is about a security team, I guess I expected more in the way of action from the books.
I also think the story would have benefited from some sort of prologue or flashbacks to Red and Laz’s initial meeting. While I read the first book and remember the incidents where they met, by the time we get here, there is a strong emotional connection already built between them that we don’t ever really see develop on page. So I did feel some of the chemistry was missing for me, particularly early on, when the guys already had strong feelings for each other that as a reader we weren’t really there to see develop. And my last issue is totally nitpicky I know (and I commented on this in my review of Love in Spades as well), but the idea that this security agency is so famous that basically everyone in Florida has heard of them, is in awe of them, recognizes them, defers to them because they are so amazing… It just seems over the top. I mean, do real people on the street actually know the name of security services in their area, let alone fawn all over them? I know, it is a silly thing to be bothered about, but it did make me pause each time I read it.
Overall, however, I am enjoying this series. I particularly like the sense of family and the camaraderie among all these guys. It is a great ensemble cast and I am enjoying getting to know the team and their friends. The next book looks to be another great pairing who has some roots of flirtation here in this book, so I am excited about that. And I think Red and Laz were a great couple and lots of fun together.