Deserted is the third book in the Auctioned series (the series is also known as the 8392 series). The books are intended to be read in order and this review may then reveal plot points for the earlier books in the series.
When Gray Nolan was kidnapped, his life changed forever. Even now that he has been rescued, the terror of being auctioned off and then stranded on an island has done lasting damage. Not everyone made it out alive, and Gray’s tormented nightmares won’t leave him alone. Not able to acclimate well to being home again, Gray wants to be left alone. He even wants to put some space between himself and Darius, because Gray thinks he is setting himself up for certain heartbreak once again.
The only thing Gray has to grab onto is a promise he made to Jonas to find Jonas’ eight-year-old brother, Jayden, who is homeless and living on the streets of Philadelphia. When Gray finds Jayden, the boy makes Gray want all the things he thought were out of reach, including a family of his own.
Darius knew that Gray was going to run and he’s determined to keep Gray safe. He should have walked away from Gray after he rescued him, but Gray is everything Darius said he didn’t want. A cross-country road trip home shows Darius a possible future with Gray and with Jayden and Darius is determined to show Gray he is not alone. But there is still unfinished business involving one boy that was left behind and for Gray and Darius to move forward, they have to go back once again.
Deserted follows the story of Gray, who was kidnapped with the intent of being sold as a sex slave, and Darius, the man that was hired to rescue him. When the book opens, Gray is back at home and the adjustment is harder than he expected. He has nightmares and he can’t forget the ones that were left behind. He also vows to make good on the promise to Jonas to find Jonas’ little brother, Jayden, which is how Gray finds himself in Philadelphia talking to a man with the Irish mafia.
Gray always wanted to be a father and, being gay, he knew he would have challenges getting there. He is enamored with Jayden immediately and feels for the young kid who thinks living on the street is fine and that he doesn’t need a family. Gray knows that he is in no position to permanently take care of Jayden at the moment, but that doesn’t prevent the two from bonding. When Darius joins them, their future is laid out in front of them, but there is work to be done to get there.
This story takes Gray through a lot of emotions as he tries to acclimate being home once again. He thinks that what he has with Darius will never last and he feels he’s relying on Darius too much. But Gray and Darius belong together and their relationship is one of the highlights of this book, although I would have liked more time with just the two of them. Gray had no idea what finding Jayden would mean for him and they naturally fall into being a family and there are fun moments between them, along with Justin, who also captures Gray and Darius’ hearts.
The rescue missions are not the strongest part of this series for me and, while it was great that they never forgot Jackie, his storyline was the weakest aspect here. But seeing him again was great and maybe hints were placed for a story between him and Darius’ brother.
Gray and Darius agree that Jayden and Justin are the main focus in their lives and agree to stay closer to home, but when new intel arrives that may be a harder promise to keep as there is another book planned in this series. And a shout out to scene stealer Kellan Ford. With only two scenes in this book, I would be all in for a book about him as well. If you have followed this series, Deserted offers more on Gray and Darius moving on with their lives together.