Howard Manning Tullor, Jr is living his life in hell. Taken in by an older man whom he thought cared for him, he’s been barely surviving the abuse. But when Howard tries to make a break for it, his life is nearly ended. As Mannie, he rebuilds himself from the ashes, with a lot of help, but he’s not a trusting sort and understandably so. Which is why his attraction to FBI Agent Blair Cummings is so unsettling.
For years, Blair worked an undercover case, but that’s finally over, and with the fallout mostly dealt with, he’s able to enjoy his life. But the last thing he expects is to meet a witness that he feels immediately drawn to. He knows Mannie has been through way too much, and far more than anyone should ever have to deal with. But there’s no denying their attraction, and Blair treads carefully.
The two men are drawn to each other, and quickly develop their relationship. After all this time, both men are finally getting the happily ever after they deserve.
First things first, this book definitely cannot be read as a standalone. There are huge gaps of missing information that you’ll only know if you’ve read the first two books in the Survivor trilogy. Since I have, and enjoyed them quite a bit, I didn’t mind that at all. But I will admit to being disappointed with this story. The first two had the same kind of feel, the same weight, and I was expecting the same with this book. Sadly, I didn’t get it and the structure of this story, along with the narrative choice, left something lacking for me.
I really liked finally getting to see Blair get his happy ever after, as he was an integral side character in the first two books. I also really appreciated getting so see Mannie find a good place after everything he’d been through. We met him briefly at the end of the second book, and it was clear there that something was brewing between Mannie and Blair. So the pay off on that was decent, and I was glad for a story that brought this whole trilogy to a close. And while the characters themselves were good, there was too much missing from the narrative for this story to work well for me.
I’m not talking about the missing information I mentioned earlier. In fact, that was the least of my problems. I liked that we didn’t have to rehash everything that had happened before. But where I had issues was that the story, as a whole, seemed to just be skimming the surface. It was scene after scene, just the barest of details, the hint of a picture, until we moved on to the next bit of storytelling. I found myself increasingly frustrated as the story went on, feeling like I was missing the heart of the MCs–what made them tick, what made them them. It was hard to get pulled into this story, as I was with the previous books, as there just wasn’t much going on here for these guys. We get a bit of their past that brought them to the present (a technique the author employed in the rest of the series to great effect) and then bam, they meet, fall in love, and hit a few tiny speed bumps.
This book was missing the weight of the first two and missing the in-depth development. For those reasons alone, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Throw in a few personal pet peeves of mine, and it brought the rating down quickly. If you’ve read the first two, and are as crazy as I am about finishing series, then I’d say give this book a read just to have the complete set. But otherwise, I’d say skip it.