Just as Javi Duran decides to retire from his life as a mercenary, he comes home to discover his house being broken into and a man who is more like a wounded animal than a twenty-year-old hacking his computer. As Javi watches the guy murder someone right in front of his eyes and then shut down into near catatonia, Javi decides he will ask his friends to clean up the mess at his house and spirit the guy away to his remote cabin. Little does Javi know that Daniel will not only steal his heart, but need every ounce of love and protection Javi has at his disposal in order to learn how to really live.
Daniel is an abused shadow of a person. Having learned from an early age to do whatever it takes to survive and go unnoticed, Daniel is forced to go along with his brother to do petty robbery or face a beating that may one day kill him. His life is hell and Daniel has no means of escaping it. He is not book smart, often being unable to attend school due to the bruising he had to hide from authorities, and he is not good for much other than hacking into security systems and searching the dark web. Daniel lives in a painful type of limbo, hoping that one day he will either find a way out or die trying.
Rain Carrington’s Bullied No More, fourth in the Legacy series, has some good moments and some rather strange and unsettling ones as well. There are many twists and turns in this story, keeping the action moving and the reader on their toes. The training of various men, readying them for mob work, is well done with the teams partaking in different mock forms of warfare. Without a doubt, the saving of Daniel is by far the best part of this book, even though it seems to languish at times with him reverting back to the thinking patterns he had during his abused upbringing. Still, seeing him happy and beginning to heal is a wonderful thing. However, that point also leads me to the first drawback of the novel.
Near the beginning when Javi rescues Daniel from a horrible life of abuse, we are made privy to Javi’s inner thought processes. He knows that Daniel needs not only life skills, but also help with his abysmal self-esteem. There is also the fact that Daniel murders someone—a person that definitely deserved it, but still it leaves him shattered and weak. From all this, Javi has the practical and smart idea that Daniel will need therapy and hopes that he will one day agree to it. Well, I heartily agreed with that thinking, but it never happens. Instead, the author decides this twenty-year old man who has been physically and mentally abused his entire life will heal by being put through a rigorous mercenary training camp and by being instantly loved by his savior, Javi.
For a moment, let’s put the insta-love trope aside and deal with the pressing issue that this kid needed months, if not years, of counseling. Over and over again he is described as insanely angry, grief stricken to the point of breaking down in tears, and repeatedly unsure of his own self-worth. It lasts up until the last chapter of this novel; surely the author would take the kernel of sanity they planted back in the beginning chapters via Javi’s concern and get this guy some help, but no, not at all. Instead, Javi comforts Daniel and all is right with the world again, for a little while, until the next breakdown. I truly had huge issues with this aspect of the novel.
Then there is the idea that within a week both Javi and Daniel are professing their love for each other. Here, I was temporarily heartened when Javi pushes Daniel into experiencing the world, insisting that if Daniel is to return to him, he will be waiting for him with open arms. At first, it seems that Daniel intends to do just that—experience a relationship that will “teach” him how to please Javi sexually and be competent in bed. So this idea, while a bit far-fetched, still seemed to be a bit plausible until we discover just how Daniel decides to educate himself and the fact that it’s happily set up by his father and stepmother. Honestly, this is one of those times when I think Daniel really does have the mind of a twelve-year-old and all the worry that Javi has about him needing to learn how to be a man is valid. This section is just so strange and over the top; I just laughed out loud at the scenario as it unfolded while trying not to feel uncomfortable.
This is the real issue with the story. There are moments of practical and exciting action, healing, and normal relationship issues juxtaposed with outlandish and bizarre methods and scenarios that are so far out of left field they feel ludicrous. Just when the novel gets right on track, it veers off into a silly trajectory that in no way could be called even a little bit realistic.
The inconsistent way the author choses to have issues arise and either fix them too quickly or easily or just let them lay fallow and not pursue them made this novel a difficult read. I do understand that perhaps some of these dangling plot threads will come to completion in future novels in the series, but there is no indication that they are even on Javi and Daniel’s radar as a possible future problem. That then leads me to think it is just weak storytelling and that is why I feel I can’t in all honesty recommend this book.
I think this book, along with this particular series, is either something you will love or something that feels just okay. For me, there is nothing in Bullied No More that stands out as something that will stick with me after reading it. For those who enjoy this series, I think they may have a different take on this one.