Rating: 4.5 stars
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It’s been four years since Dexter Dailey and his husband, Sloane, left THIRDS for jobs working with the Therian Intelligence Network (TIN). They have spent the time training and honing their skills, and have been enjoying the new challenges. They are also in love and happier than ever, enjoying being partners on the job and in life. However, their latest case is going to be particularly challenging, as it hits right where the men are most vulnerable. A wealthy maniac named Vaughan is trying to give Therian traits to humans, but without making them shifters. He considers it the next step in human evolution, the step humans were cheated out of when Therians got all the abilities. Not only is he trying to make humans all powerful, he is looking to subjugate the Therians in the process.
Vaughan is holding a retreat for wealthy elite who are vying for a chance to be one of the first humans to get the Therian DNA. As part of the event, the humans are bringing Therians along to show off their skills (and how well “tamed”) they are. So Sloane and Dex are headed uncover, with Dex posing as an ultra wealthy man looking to bid on the DNA. That means that not only does Dex have to play a role that sickens him, but that the men must hide the bond between them or expose the truth about who they are and the connection they have.
As the men dig deeper into Vaughan and the retreat, they learn that the truth about his motives are even more terrible than they thought. Sloane and Dex are determined to protect all the vulnerable Therians they encounter, as well as to bring down Vaughan and the researchers working for him. But Vaughan is wealthy, powerful, and incredibly dangerous. One wrong move and Sloane and Dex might not make it out alive.
Hurray! Dex and Sloane are back in the new spin-off series to Charlie Cochet’s fabulous THIRDs series. It’s been about four years in real time since the last of the main THIRDS series books was released, and four years in story time as well. Gone But Not Forgotten kicks off the TIN series, reuniting us with Dex, Sloane, and many other familiar characters. While Cochet does provide some background, as well as a glossary that identifies key players and terms, this is a shared world with THIRDS and readers of the original series are going to find this one much easier to follow. Some of our old THIRDS friends appear here as well, including Sebastian Hobbs, who is a major side character, and many other folks who make brief appearances. But if you wanted to give it a go and start here, there is probably enough background to get the basics.
This story takes a slightly different direction than the THIRDS books in that the guys are now spies, rather than working in on-the-streets law enforcement. The tone keeps a good dose of the levity we are used to from THIRDS, particularly when it comes to Dex, but also a lot of intensity. There is a kind of playful James Bond vibe to it all, and the story opens with a crazy chase scene that really gets the book started with a bang. You have to just go with the fact that they have a million gadgets and amazing technology to handle just about any situation they encounter, but it is all in a good fun. I really think Cochet does a great job here pivoting in a slightly new direction, bringing in some new characters, and providing some new challenges for Dex and Sloane, but still keeping the sense of shared world with the original series.
The case has a nice intensity as we learn about some of the atrocities going on with Vaughan and his plans. It brings up some difficult memories for Sloane, as he went through a rough childhood as one of the first generation Therians. It also challenges Dex, who has a soft heart and really struggles when he sees others hurting. And together, the men have their own challenges, as they have this incredibly close bond, are inextricably linked, but they somehow have to hide that connection for fear of their true identities being uncovered. The case is exciting with lots of thrills and twists and it sets the stage really nicely for the series. It also starts to delve deeper into Dex himself, and the changes he continues to undergo as a result of his bond with Sloane. I think Cochet really puts so many interesting elements into play, I am so excited to see how it all plays out.
The heart of the original series has always been Dex and Sloane and that holds true here. We are now seeing them four years married (and I believe about eight years after meeting) and their bond is just so strong. They are sweet and mushy and romantic, doting on one another, hot and sexy, and completely committed. This book just reminded me how much I like them as a couple and how glad I am to have them back. So this was a great kickoff to this new series and I am all on board for more. I can’t wait to see where Cochet takes things next for Dex and Sloane and I am definitely along for the ride.
I started listening to the THIRDs series on audiobook (I love the narrator) and I liked the writing and the romance but I got sort of sick of the overdone, one-sided “humans are bad” trope that we were constantly beaten over the head with, and it doesn’t look like it’s abated any here, so I think I’ll skip it.