Dominic “Bull” Walker is a farmer in Georgia, a transplant from Texas after his ranch was wiped out in a flood. His farm is doing well, but experiencing some vandal attacks and the local sheriff can’t be bothered with following up. Bull is also no good at using the surveillance equipment they have set up. When Bull’s father, Lennox, and his partner, SWAT commander Ivan Hart, spend a lovely weekend at Bull’s farm, riding and relaxing, Bull meet Ivan’s second-in-command, Mandel “Fox” Tucker.
Fox is an expert marksman and a great tactician in SWAT. Unfortunately, there are some political forces at work, between bad press and actual police issues, and Fox finds himself on indefinite leave and at loose ends. When Bull turns up needing help with his surveillance equipment, Fox volunteers to go undercover on the farm to see if he can discover who’s vandalizing the property.
This is the eighth book in the Nothing Special series, but can be enjoyed as a standalone. I have actually read all of the books in this series, and enjoyed them all. This is a city-boy/country-boy odd couple romance, featuring two lonely men needing companionship. Fox is suave and prickly. Bull is staid and afraid—his last man was not suited to long days of strenuous labor. As Fox stays on the farm, however, he’s more and more reminded that his found family in the SWAT isn’t the same as having a loving man to wake up to every morning. Members of the staff, Bull’s foreman in particular, aren’t happy about Fox’s presence, afraid he’s going to break Bull’s heart and wreck the good life everyone has going there. Instead, Fox turns up his charm, coming up with ideas that will help the farm further thrive. And, that’s when he and Bull find their vandal—protected by the system of corruption in their rural county.
I loved this one, getting to see Fox examine his commitments and learn how to build a life that is both emotionally and professionally satisfying. There are lots of cameos for Hart, Free, God, and Day, along with some of the other guys we’ve come to know through the series, but this is a very different story compared to the previous titles. It’s not based in Atlanta much, and the pace of the days is calmer, allowing for development of deep connection between people that Fox relishes in his SWAT brethren, without the constant stress, danger, and scrutiny that police work has brought him. The farming and horse ranching is an interesting change of scene for readers of the series, as well as Fox. Fox seems torn between his life and his new world, until he realizes that he can find a way to protect and serve while also building a love with Bull, who is such a good guy.
I think if you are already a fan of the series, you will like this. I think if you are dipping your toe in this series, you won’t be disappointed. Expect lots of action and humor, and a semi-slow burn for Fox and Bull. Their mutual wariness was fun to witness, especially as it was replaced by admiration and love.
P.S. You can read Free and Hart’s story in Nothing Special VI