Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Santos “Saint” Cavellero always thought he was straight. Saint married his high school sweetheart and thought that was his forever. But when he came home and found out she’d fallen for another man, Saint joined Four Kings security and started his life again. It’s taken time, but the family he’s found at Four Kings is as fulfilling as his job. There’s just the pesky (and confusing) problem of how he can’t stop thinking about fire chief, Valentino Serrano.

Val is retiring and moving onto the next stage of his life. He’s noticed Saint for years, but he knows better than to crush after a straight guy. When Val’s retirement party ends with a literal bang, it’s Saint who saves him. And when it becomes clear that the threat may be more than everyone thinks, Saint is the one who is once again thrust into his orbit. Working on Val’s new tavern together opens up a whole new can of worms. And Saint has finally figured out that he’s not straight. More than that, he wants Val.

The more time they spend together, the closer they get. Val is worried about moving too fast, and he’s afraid to open his heart for fear that Saint will change his mind. Saint wants nothing more than Val. But when tragedy strikes it sends everyone’s world into a tailspin. What’s more, the perpetrator isn’t stopping. If they can’t find who is behind the attacks, they won’t make it out alive, and the love Saint and Val have found may be doomed to end before it can really begin.

Dealing Him In is the first book in The Kings: Royal Flush series, a spin-off series in the author’s Four Kings Security universe. While this book would technically work as a standalone, it is heavily tied into both the Four Kings and Wild Cards series, as all the secondary characters are from previous books. While Cochet does explain the history needed for the background of this book in a way that’s organic to the story, it really is best read in order with the rest of the series. Not in the least because we’ve seen both these MCs in background roles at different places throughout, and the author has heavily hinted at their attraction, which makes the payoff of them getting together all the better.

Both the MCs have baggage here, though different kinds, and it was good to see them working through it to find their way to each other. Val has some understandable reservations about getting together with Saint, not the least of which is Saint’s newly understood and accepted bisexuality. There’s also the age gap to contend with. But Cochet handles this with care and really fleshes out both Saint’s understanding and acceptance of his sexuality, as well as Val’s journey to opening his heart. I really liked these guys together. The chemistry has long sparked between them, and the more they talk, the deeper that attraction goes. They also can have fun together, and the banter between the MCs is great. Which is to be expected, as Cochet is a master at fun banter. It takes time for them both to be in the right headspace to act on their attraction, and even when they do, they still have things to work through. I really appreciated the journey to them falling in love, as it’s clear these two were meant to be.

On top of the romance storyline, there’s quite a bit of action. The book begins with a literal bang, and though there are downtimes, this book is full of fast-paced heart stopping moments. Someone is after Val, though it takes time for the guys to put that together, and whoever it is ups the ante with every interaction. There are some intense moments, in particular with a side character, that will tug on the heartstrings. The fast-paced action is what readers have come to expect with this universe. Cochet handles it well, balancing the two storylines.

But the mystery itself, who was behind it, and some of the moments are a bit of a mixed bag for me. It felt very familiar, not only with some other storylines in this universe, but for books of this ilk on the whole. For me, that was a bit of a disappointment. While the author puts her own spin on things, and it has a decided Four Kings air about it, the actual motive, plus the ending confrontation, wasn’t much of a surprise for me. I would have really liked to see a different twist in some way, as for me, that would have really elevated the book.

That being said, overall I really enjoyed the story. It was fun to be back in this world and to see all these characters again, as it’s a blast to watch them interact. And as I made note, it was a huge payoff for these MCs to finally get together and watching them fall in love was extremely satisfying. While I did have a slight issue with the mystery storyline, the book as a whole was great and there were moments I deeply enjoyed. This book is a must read for fans of the universe. And if you haven’t jumped in yet, I’d suggest you start at the beginning, as there’s a whole lovely universe to explore.