Rating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Ward “King” Kingston was a leader to his military team and now he’s a leader at Four Kings Security. King has always assumed the protector role, so when his military general friend asks King to help protect his son, King readily steps in. Leopold de Loughrey is a genius coder who has been brought in by the government to develop some highly classified software, and they now have him sequestered at a secret site while he works. Leo wasn’t asked so much as forced into the job, and he is not handling it well. He is stressed and unable to work and keeps slipping out of the facility. The general hopes that a friendly face who is looking out for Leo’s interests instead of the government’s might help.

King is immediately drawn to Leo and wants to help protect and take care of him. It is clear that the atmosphere where he’s being forced to work is too stressful for Leo, making it difficult for him to do the job and adding just that much pressure to his shoulders. Leo is a pretty high strung, stressed out guy, but somehow King is able to calm him and help him through the stress. And when Leo is threatened, King is right there for him every step of the way.

As the project continues, King and Leo act on their attraction to each other and both begin to wish that there could be more between them when the project is over. But King has never been a relationship guy and his military past adds complications. And Leo can’t even believe a hot former Green Beret like King would even be interested in him, let alone looking for something serious. Both men have to take a chance on opening up with their feelings if they have any hope of keeping their connection once the job is over. And in the meantime, both men are going to have to fight to keep Leo alive when danger threatens.

Diamond in the Rough is the fourth book in Charlie Cochet’s Four Kings Security series, each focusing on one of the partners in the company. I have enjoyed this series overall, but I have to say that this one is my favorite. There is a slightly different tone here that just worked really well for me. I liked the way the focus here has a little more of a military vibe and the way the case connects with bigger issues outside of Four Kings specifically. The look into government black ops was interesting and while I had some ideas early on about what would happen, the story took some unexpected twists as well. The book still felt more heavily weighted on the relationship end versus the suspense side of things, but it felt a little more balanced here than in some of the earlier books, which I liked.

I also enjoyed King and Leo together. I am a fan of a good geeky hero and Leo is a nice balance between being a super genius who often lives in his own head, but also not being totally naive and clueless about life. I appreciated how on one hand King is in the protector role, but he also helps Leo learn to look after himself as well. We also see that the guys each have strengths, and while King might be a big strong military man, Leo is brilliant and able to see things from unusual perspectives. I like how they value each other and make the use of their strengths. They are fun and sexy and I found Leo to be mostly charming and quirky and a nice fit for the more stoic King, who needs to let loose a bit. At times, I found Leo’s constant refrain of how he wasn’t good enough for King to be a little wearying, but overall, I feel like these guys are a good, if unusual, fit for each other.

The story does require some suspensions of disbelief, like how this black ops military unit and King’s fabulous security agency can so easily lose track of Leo. Yes, the reasoning is explained, but it still felt kind of hard to believe that with so many people on duty protecting Leo that they were all so easily distracted. I also wondered how Four Kings was even staying afloat with all six of their top personnel (including their four owner/partners) all off looking after Leo for months on end. And King seems to do nothing but watch Leo work, bring him water, make him eat, and as things continue, have sex with him. Which bring to me question why Ace sleeping with Colton was such a huge issue in book one, but King is sleeping with the guy he is supposed to be protecting here and no one seems to care. I’ll also note that the way things come together in the resolution seem to be a mastery of luck and timing that takes a bit of a leap to believe. So I think that  things could have been tightened up here on some of the details.

That said, I really enjoyed this final installment in the main Four Kings series. I found the security side of things to be really interesting and suspenseful and I loved Leo and King together. While this book could stand alone plotwise, I do think reading all four stories and getting to know the Kings will add a lot to your enjoyment. And with Joker and Jack’s stories coming up, I am looking forward to the spin off series and more set in this world.