Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars
Narrator: Michael Pauley
Length: 4 hours, 49 minutes
Rafe Barretti was eight years old when he was taken from the only home he ever knew. After his mother died, his biological father took him from the brothers he idolized, and his entire childhood was brutally stolen from him. His brothers, who were teens at the time, promised they would find him, but it’s twenty years later and Rafe is ready to take his revenge out on the brothers that never came for him.
For Cade Gamble, the Barretti brothers are like family and he is fiercely loyal to them. His current job is to stop the hacker looking to take them all down. However, Cade isn’t expecting the hacker to be the missing Barretti brother or for the man to get under his skin so quickly. Rafe isn’t interested in talking and he isn’t interested in building bridges with his brothers. He has one goal in mind and that’s revenge. The heat between Rafe and Cade is explosive, but Rafe never thought about having a relationship or staying in one place and he has no idea what to do with his feelings for Cade. He doesn’t want Cade to have to choose between him and his family, but Cade may have to protect Rafe from himself to keep everyone together.
I have read so many of Sloane Kennedy’s books, but I have been reading more of her current releases and had not gotten around to the Barretti Security series which came out in print a few years ago. Having just been released on audio, it was a great way to revisit these characters who have briefly crossed over into the author’s other worlds. This book is number two in the series, with the first one being m/f, but it works fine to start here. This series, however, is also a spin-off of Kenendy’s earlier Escort series, but still, I was able to follow along.
Sometimes going back and reading an author’s earlier work can catch you up on characters, and while that did happen here, this book did not stand out amongst the rest. The Barretti brothers lost their mother in an act of violence when Rafe was eight, and Rafe, having a different biological father, was sent to live with him. From the moment Rafe went with his father, Gary, his life became an endless story of abuse. How Gary came to get custody of Rafe is glossed over, but how someone like him would have been given custody was a complete mystery. Also, their mother was shown to be a loving, nurturing woman who took care of her children and it was unclear how she even met Gary in the first place.
The brothers, Dom and Vin (and Ren who is off page in this book), spent their lives searching for Rafe, but Gary went off any and all radar and they were never able to locate him. Rafe’s life became one of property as Gary sold him to any man who could pay for him. Rafe then became a hacker and was determined to take down the brothers he thought forgot about him. And that’s the story here. Rafe has nothing left to lose at this point and is consumed by pain and vengeance. He’s not at a place where he can rationally listen to anyone and there is no heart-warming reunion between brothers to be seen here. The relationship between Rafe and Cade gets the most page time as Cade watches over Rafe as he self destructs from the rage consuming him, while someone is also trying to kill Rafe. The plot line is fairly over the top and while the relationship between Cade and Rafe becomes strong, there is little time spent with Rafe and his brothers and that component was missing for me.
I have listened to most, if not all, of the audios narrated by Michael Pauley. His narrative voice works for me and his audios always have top quality production. This audio followed that style as well, yet it wasn’t one of my favorite performances from him. The character voices did not have the distinction I am used to from him and for all the emotion going on in the story, I didn’t feel that come across as much through the narration. Still, he’s a desirable narrator and while this performance didn’t completely wow me, I will still look for his future performances.