Bash is good at what he does. He’s a killer, a hunter, a fighter, and a hero who — with the backing of Fortress — rescues civilians from war zones, fights terrorists, and saves lives. He’s ruthless and selfless, and when someone needs to stay behind to distract the terrorists and let an American family escape, Bash doesn’t give anyone else a chance to volunteer. His act of bravery leaves him in prison, mildly beaten, and exchanging pleasantries with Sean, a fellow prisoner who is a pediatrician with face of a model and an air of innocence.
When Sean asks to be rescued, Bash has no choice but to say yes. How could he leave this man behind? Even if Sean is the grandson of Bash’s captor, King Faisal, and next in line for the throne of Akkadia. However, Sean has no desire to be a crown prince, certainly not in a country where being gay is a crime and where women are treated like property. He’d never do that to his sister, or to himself.
What begins as an escape into a whirlwind ends up as a whirlwind romance between the prince and his bodyguard, and a mystery generations in the making.
This book opens with Bash taking down Arab terrorists before being captured and tortured and tossed in a cell. There he meets Sean who, though he has spent all of his life in England and is an English citizen, has a voice that Bash notes carries “desert sands and palm trees under a star-filled sky” that, along with his dark, olive skin, tells Bash that Sean is probably of Middle Eastern descent. There’s a lot of subtle commentary — how overly obsequious the Akkadian servants and guards are to their Crown Prince, how badly gay people and women are treated — that, rather than add color or texture to the world, comes across as stereotyped and heavily biased.
Sadly, all of that is more prominent than the romance between Bash and Sean. Bash is, and has always been, the sort of man who would take on bullies. Not to throw his weight around, but because it’s the right thing to do. He has a great deal of insecurity about relationships as his father abandoned him when he was young, and many of his actions towards Sean feel controlling and testing. For example, knowing their rescue is just around the corner, Bash doesn’t tell Sean. Instead, he sets up a choice: Follow me into the desert with limited water, deadly heat, and a risk of death and capture … or stay behind where you’re marginally safer and may be rescued by workers (who might turn you in to the king, but might not.) Either way, I’m headed into the dangerous waste by myself, alone, and injured, if you don’t come with me. It isn’t until Sean protests that he’d follow Bash anywhere that Bash gets to laugh and tell Sean that it’s all just a joke, and rescue’s on its way.
Bash needs control, and he needs to feel in charge, but I didn’t enjoy how he handled the situation. Sean, for his part, has been in a prison for four months, afraid for his life, and that’s even without revealing to his grandfather that he’s not only refusing to accept the title of crown prince, marry, and provide some great-grandchildren, he’s also gay. Bash is Sean’s rescuer, his hero, and is it any wonder that Sean clings to Bash? And then they’re rescued and their adrenaline-fueled fuck buddy status seems to go to a deep and abiding love over the days they’re both safe and secure within Fortress. Unfortunately, especially for a romance novel, none of that is in the book. It’s just assumed rather than shown.
The plot of assassinations, hidden heirs, and playing prince are done well enough. Bash’s ego is on full display as is Sean’s dithering, and while the pair proclaim their love every now and then, I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. The writing is serviceable, though there are a few copy errors, such as a missing comma, spacing issues, and typos such as these:
Bash raised a brow, wanting to know Bash’s opinion.
The one saving grace in all this was that Sean hadn’t been uninjured.
All in all, I personally didn’t care for this book and I do not think I’ll be continuing the series.