Atlas Kincaid just barely survived when he and his fellow Marines were attacked by mysterious creatures while on a mission. The attack left Atlas emotionally and physically scarred and he is still haunted by the nightmares. Now, Atlas works for his sister, Bea, at her security agency. When she offers him the assignment as a bodyguard to the son of a local businessman, it seems like a great option, as they are willing to be flexible with Atlas’ needs (such as having sensitivities that trigger migraines). The fact that no one else has been able to stick it out on the job doesn’t scare Atlas off either.
At first, Christian Slava just seems like the spoiled son of a wealthy businessman. He tries his best to run Atlas off, but grudgingly accepts him when Atlas isn’t so easily cowed. It is soon clear that the job is a lot more than watching the party boy son of a rich man, however. The threats against Christian are real and his life is on the line. As Atlas becomes more aware of who (and what) Christian and his family are, he is horrified and his past nightmares begin to resurface. So when a chance comes up to potentially put a stop to them, Atlas can’t help but be tempted, despite the betrayal.
But the longer Atlas works with Christian and gets to know him, the more drawn to him he becomes. Soon, Atlas is developing feelings for Christian and realizing that he not the enemy Atlas once thought. But the threats against Christian and his family aren’t stopping, even as Atlas realizes he wants to protect Christian with all he has. Now that the danger has increased, it will take all of Atlas’ skills to keep Christian safe and fight the enemies conspiring against him.
Rare Vigilance is the first book in M.A. Grant’s new Whitethorn Agency series and it sets the stage nicely for the upcoming story. This is a supernatural series, though Grant doesn’t disclose the exact nature in the blurb, so I am not going to discuss it directly here either (though it is included in the post tags if you are interested). That said, it didn’t take me long to figure it out, and the story is less about the mystery of what Christian is than about Atlas’ reaction to him and his changing feelings about it all. I think the set up is interesting here as Atlas’ first reaction to learning the truth is horror. It all brings back nightmares from his past and Atlas is genuinely scared and angry. So when the chance comes to take some action that may turn the tables, Atlas seizes the opportunity. It sets up a really nice dynamic as Atlas is at once secretly, but actively, moving against Christian and his family, but also building a real bond with Christian that eventually leads to more. Of course, there is a turning point where Atlas realizes he has made some big mistakes, and ultimately he is completely behind Christian. But it makes for a nice conflict and develops well.
The world building here is interesting, from the politics, to the complex family dynamics, to the supernatural side of things. There are a lot of moving parts here and this book feels largely focused on setting the stage, versus making major advances to the storyline. I’ll admit to feeling a little eager to get things started. This is a long book and I felt like it could have been trimmed down to really hone in more on the action and key elements. So much felt like set up to me and a lot of the story is the day-to-day side of Atlas watching Christian go to clubs or meetings. While a lot is introduced, by the end I didn’t feel like much actually happened. The story ends on a cliffhanger, which was exciting, and there are definitely thrilling moments, particularly at the end, but I did find things a little slow.
We learn the basics of what happened to Atlas and it is connected to a related, but different, supernatural group than Christian and his family. It was sort of confusing to me, because Atlas’ reaction to learning the truth made it sound as if Christian’s beings had been the one to attack him, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, so I am not fully clear on Atlas’ response. I’ll also note that the blurb is a little misleading here. It says that “Consumed by the need to find out what happened to him” Atlas takes the security job. But Atlas has no idea that Christian and his family are anything but human when he takes the job, so I don’t think that makes sense. The blurb also suggests that the people after Atlas have knowledge that they are going to share with him about what really happened to him, presumably in exchange for his help, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case in the story (they may know, but there is never a suggestion of a trade of knowledge for Atlas helping them). So there were a few small areas here that seemed a bit muddy.
However, even with some issues, I really enjoyed this one and it sets things up nicely for the series. The ending gives us a lot of excitement and suspense and I am eager to see how the next stage plays out in the second book. So if you are looking for a well-done paranormal with a bit of a different twist and tone, consider checking this one out.