Tate McKenna is a former Navy SEAL sniper turned assassin for hire. His latest job is to take out the city mayor, who it turns out is up to all sorts of nefarious dealings. What Tate doesn’t expect is to find the mayor beating up what appears to be a young woman. Even as Tate makes the kill, he can’t just leave the woman unconscious on the floor. He knows that either the mayor’s thugs will find her, or the police will be suspicious of her, and neither option is a good one. Tate realizes it is probably risky and a bad idea, but he decides to rescue the woman before leaving the scene.
Chance Forester grew up with abusive parents who wanted to him to present the image of a perfect son. When Chance came out to them, they kicked him out of the house, but his parents still try to control his life. But sometimes, however, Chance can’t resist taking some risks just to have some freedom. This time, however, it backfires and Chance finds himself grabbed by his father’s thugs. When they drag him to his father’s mansion and he sees his dad’s fury, Chance wonders if this is the time the beating will be the end of him. He never expects to find himself rescued by a mysterious stranger who has killed his dad.
Tate knows he needs to get Chance off the grid for a while, since the police are likely looking for the killer and their eyes will turn to the mayor’s son. Not to mention that Chance is badly injured and can’t be on his own. Tate never gets involved like this once the job is done and he knows he should be walking away, but something about Chance is so compelling, he can’t leave him. As the guys spend time together in the safe house as Chance recovers, Tate realizes that he is feeling an attraction to Chance, something he has never felt for a man before. Even more, he is finding himself intrigued by Chance’s interest in a Daddy/boy dynamic and realizing it very much aligns with his own desire to take care of and protect Chance. Now, as the men wait it out for things to settle after the hit, they may just find themselves falling hard for one another.
Chance Encounter is a bi-awakening, Daddy/boy story by Luna David. The book is part of the Elite multi-author collection of standalone books, all set in the same city and featuring a secret club for the elite underworld. The author does a nice job incorporating the common elements of the collection into the story and evoking this city full of dirty cops and assorted criminals. The book starts off with a lot of excitement as Tate is out on a job to kill the mayor and ends up finding Chance (who is dressed in traditionally female clothes and so Tate assumes he is a woman from far away). Chance has been near beaten to death and Tate can’t bear to leave him there at risk, so there is a nice element of intensity as Tate risks exposure to rescue Chance and take out all the remaining bad guys who could recognize Chance later. As often is the case with this type of story, Tate is sort of an “assassin with a conscience,” entering into this life after his military partner was killed and only taking jobs where he can verify the victims are “bad guys.” You just have to go with the idea that Tate is making these decisions about who deserves to die, as well as accept the near miraculous information resources at his disposal due to his sister the hacker. But I did enjoy this portion of the book as we jump into the action with a bang and there is a lot of excitement as we watch the hit unfold and then the aftermath as Tate and Chance need to escape.
Most of the rest of the story takes place in a safe house and here is where things slowed down for me somewhat. I was expecting some sort of action to kick back in at some point, but it never does. The situation sort of resolves off page and eventually all is fine and they can come home, by which time Chance and Tate have already fallen for one another. But while the blurb definitely indicates these guys are “on the run” and at risk of being “permanently silenced,” there is really no sense they are in actual danger after they leave the murder scene and there isn’t the action I had expected from the set up and the description. Mostly this portion of the book is a chance for Tate and Chance to get to know one another, Chance to recover, and the men to start exploring both a romantic relationship and a Daddy/boy dynamic. Tate has never been with a guy before, but he accepts his interest in Chance with no problem. This portion felt a little heavy on the talking versus the action for me, and some of the language felt very formal or flowery. Even with the pause for the recuperation/getting to know you period, I just felt like I needed more here than just the guys hanging out until the threat was over (and mostly off page) and then the story ending.
The portions of the plot that focus on the suspense worked the best for me and I appreciated David addresses some little details that authors can sometimes forget (like cameras that might have seen Chance on the grounds, or destroying his SIM card). I’ll admit it bugged me throughout the book that Tate is so focused on erasing any evidence of Chance being at his father’s house, yet Chance bled and vomited on the floor and there is no mention of cleaning up what would clearly be his DNA all over the place. But that was a small thing and, overall, I think David does a nice job with those small details. The plot does take a turn to somewhat convoluted for me in terms of who ordered the hit and why, and I am not sure this whole side element was really needed, particularly given that after the original hit, the story never really returns to them facing any kind of threat.
For me, this story worked better in the earlier portions than the later ones, but overall, it is enjoyable. If you are a fan of this multi-author world, or enjoy bi-awakening or Daddy/boy dynamics, I think this one is worth considering.