Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Michael Pauley
Length: 7 hours, 22 minutes
Zane Devereaux has worked hard as a criminal defense attorney and is close to being made partner. It’s everything he always thought he wanted. After a traumatic childhood, Zane knows he not cut out for relationships because people always leave. But when he meets Connor Talbot, he’s wildly attracted to the man, and while Zane wants Connor in his bed, he knows he can’t make room for him in his life. Or can he?
Connor is proud to have served his country, even when it left him missing a limb and with a traumatic brain injury. His ex took advantage of the situation and their relationship escalated into violence, but even a restraining order can’t get his ex to back away. Connor lost his parents at a young age and while he has close friends, his track record shows him that he’ll never have the kind of relationship he longs for. The chemistry with Zane is explosive, and even when Connor knows he wants more, Zane keeps him at an emotional distance. However, it could be that the two of them together are exactly what they both need.
Freeing Zane is the last book in the Barretti Security series and really works best if you have some knowledge of the world and characters it is built on. While this is Zane and Connor’s story, they have appeared in previous books and other characters from the series appear here as well.
Kennedy mostly writes darker characters that have been through trauma or have a painful past and that is always a draw for me. While this book, and this series, has some of that as well, it is not nearly as tragic or explicit as some of her other books. Connor and Zane are perfect for each other, yet they don’t realize it, or they do realize it, but don’t want to admit it.
Connor came back from service with a physical disability, as well as a brain injury. His dreams of working with young children came to a halt as he never knew when he would have an episode. Zane is somewhat of an overachiever, but mostly he’s addicted to work. He was having a great childhood with his father until fate snatched that away. His past was then filled with pain and fear and he was determined to make things better for others. But Zane has never opened his heart because people always leave him. The chemistry between the men is incredible and they know it. But it takes some work for them to pull it all together.
There is also a lot of story going on around them. There was Connor’s abusive ex, and when a pivotal point in that story happened, it was off page. And, when Connor is injured, Zane states he has authority to make medical decisions and the hospital takes his word and the lack of details in some areas then made me feel as if I was missing something. Zane is also trying to outrun his own past, but it shows up at his door time and again. The guys work well together though and it’s certainly satisfying to watch them find their happy ever after through the end of the book into the epilogue and then into the extended epilogue that brings the entire series to a close.
Michael Pauley has narrated this series and he is one of my favorite narrators. However, I haven’t felt like he fully settled into this series. The main characters’ voices here, and throughout this entire series, have not had much of their own voice. Pauley has a pleasant voice to listen to, but the characters lacked distinction. However, all of the secondary characters had full on character voices, such as the elderly neighbor with a stereotypical voice, and why he concentrated there is perplexing. The audio itself only counted down the entire running time of the audio and not the length of each chapter and I have never seen this on any audio and it was then difficult to pace my listening time. Pauley still remains a narrator I seek out, but this series didn’t showcase his best work.