Jonas Knight and Carson Brooks were closeted lovers in their youth while serving in the armed forces for Chestan, a tiny European country. That was eighteen years ago, and Carson broke Jonas’ heart by not coming out when Jonas confessed his deep love and came out to his wealthy parents, who mostly disowned him.
Jonas sucked up his hurt and moved on to a career in film. He’s now a famous, award-winning actor in Chestan and he’s become a target for unknown “conservatives” who want to kill him. Meanwhile, Carson ascended the ranks of the armed forces, being eventually recruited to the “ghost team” of assassins protect the Chestan world. He got nearly killed on his last mission and has recently retired. Learning that Jonas is at the center of an assassination plot, Carson’s willing to set aside his years of guilt to take a personal bodyguard position and protect Jonas from harm.
Jonas isn’t best pleased to have Carson up in his life, but he’s also smart enough to realize that an expert military man like Carson is an asset to not shove aside. Even if his heart can’t stop getting involved.
Okay, so this sounds like a great reconnection story, which is what I was expecting when I chose to review it. Unfortunately, the writing didn’t live up to the promise for me. The characters were one-dimensional and the plot was generic. Instead of specific details, the story was filled with generalities. We open with Jonas winning a major award, but for what film? How did he feel winning it and being alone? Instead of digging deep and showing us Jonas’s vulnerabilities, he reads as a veneer of any famous person too busy to stop and protect himself properly. Jonas has hired 17 full-time bodyguards, including Carson, and a four-car motorcade like a head of state, yet he’s doing fashion show appearances and department store openings? And none of these people seems capable of ferreting out who’s threatening him and shooting at him in crowded areas? As such, it made zero sense to have Jonas continue to make public appearances that were only a plot vehicle to give his attackers a venue for attack.
Carson, who can kill dozens of attacking terrorists with his bare hands, apparently can’t stop Jonas from needlessly exposing himself to danger or outing his sexuality to hostile press. Meanwhile, both men are constantly rehashing their ex-boyfriend status and how they never got over one another. These 40+ year old men talk like they are decades younger, apologizing profusely and repeatedly for mistakes of their youth. I found the repetition and verbose descriptions/dialogue to be exhausting. Cue attack by generic, faceless baddies with generic motive. And cue semi-dramatic rescue cut off by fade-to-black injury. Every time SOMETHING happened, we were shunted into a scene of how it’s all good now, and let’s talk about how we survived it, instead of being along for the terrifying/exhilarating ride. As such, I felt disconnected entirely from the danger elements, as well as the love story.
The sex felt almost clinical, a how-to of the sex business with odd pillow talk that lacked emotional resonance. Their grandiose dates were always The Best Experiences Ever, sheer perfections of planning that could melt the hearts of the most bitter curmudgeon, without ever giving me any more than the most blasé lovey-lovey feels of either character. I wanted to find something truly positive to latch onto, as both a reader and a reviewer, but I honestly would have stopped reading this one maybe three chapters in if I hadn’t selected it for review. The pace was slow, the characters too perfect, the plot was either silly or melodramatic, the responses too canned. It was a perfect storm of all the issues that I struggle with as a reader.