Steve Frost has lead the security team for the boy band Atrous for years, and he takes his job seriously. The band is one of the most popular musical groups in the world, and their fans are intense. After an eight-week world tour, the band and staff are back in the States and have a week off. But Steve, along with the managers, are called in a day early to be told that Jeremy Dalton, who is the face of the band, has a stalker and it’s a credible threat. Steve is furious that he’s just being told about this ongoing situation now, but he and his team set up new security protocol and not one of the five guys in the band will be without personal security at any time. Steve himself will be on Jeremy’s detail, since Jeremy seems to be the focus of the threat.
Jeremy is scared, but he also trusts Steve. He’s not happy with having Steve and another bodyguard with him at all times, but he takes it seriously. But over the past two years, Steve’s feelings for Jeremy have grown from just friendship and affection to much more. He is determined to keep Jeremy safe no matter what, and it goes beyond just his job. But Jeremy is straight—Steve has seen all the women Jeremy has been with for the past decade—and Steve won’t let his own feelings get in the way of keeping Jeremy safe.
But they are friends, and staying with Jeremy isn’t a hardship. For the most part, Jeremy keeps his spirits up, enough to tease and whine, especially as Steve insists he learns how to cook. But with each passing hour, Steve starts to expect that the looks and comments coming from Jeremy might be more. Steve doesn’t want to get his hopes up. But even more than that, no one knows Steve is gay. The last time someone found out, it cost him everything and nearly his life. When Jeremy starts to exhibit jealousy and anger, Steve’s hopes rise. When Jeremy gets injured, Steve shows him care that has Jeremy finally admitting his feelings, though Jeremy is confused and frustrated. He’s not gay, he doesn’t understand.
But even though the FBI is on the stalker case, there isn’t much progress. Jeremy and Steve begin to explore their feelings and the stalker case heats up. Though Steve finally confides in Jeremy about what happened in his past, no one expects that past to rear its ugly head. It nearly derails their lives, and the connections run deep. But Steve and Jeremy have to lean on each other in order to make it through.
Code Blue is N.R. Walker’s follow up to Code Red, though you don’t have to have read the first in order to enjoy this one, as it takes place two years later and is completely separate. But I did really enjoy Code Red as well, and it definitely gives insight to the characters and can set up the some of the relationships in this book.
Steve narrates this story, and though Jeremy is going through a lot, it’s all filtered through Steve’s eyes. The author does an outstanding job of giving us good insight into Jeremy though, and it didn’t feel like his POV is missing. This is a long book and there are a lot of layers, but it only takes place over a few days. Even still, the pacing was spot on and well done. Steve has been through a lot to get him to where he is now, and at times, he breaks my heart. His history is traumatic, and he’s come through it, but it’s left its mark, both physically and mentally. What I loved about Steve was that he’s a big guy with a true focus, he’s serious and stoic, but he also has a big heart. Especially where it comes to Jeremy. I love watching his progression and how he opens himself to Jeremy, and how that helps Steve heal as well.
Steve is a care taker and a protector, and Jeremy needs that. Not that he’s not independent, because he is. But not only is Jeremy the focus of a fixated person, but also he has some medical issues and needs to be reminded to take care. I love their interactions. And I really liked Jeremy’s personal journey as he figures out why he’s attracted to Steve and what to do about it. For a minute there, I thought there was going to be bi-erasure, but Walker didn’t let me down, and an honest discussion between the MCs warmed my heart. There’s a bit of a slow burn here, and seeming unrequited pining, but I thought the romance developed naturally and felt right between the MCs.
As far as the stalker goes, I thought the author did a great job about putting a twist on it so it wasn’t exactly what the reader expects. It definitely goes in a direction I didn’t quite anticipate, and has layers to it that gave it a different feel. I was glad to see it, as this wasn’t your “typical” stalker story.
All in all, this is a winner from Walker, especially if you’ve read Code Red. Steve is an endearing character, and the ending is satisfying in a lot of ways. I was involved in this story from word one and read it straight through. This one is an easy recommendation from me.