Author: Sloane Kennedy
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Trauma surgeon Ronan Grisham lost everything the day the man he loved was stolen from him in a brutal attack. Driven by a thirst for vengeance, he turns his hatred into building an underground group that can do what he couldn’t that fateful day…take the lives of the guilty to save the lives of the innocent. But years later, he’s forced to confront the one link to his past that he can’t sever.
Seven years after the loss of his parents in a violent home invasion that left him permanently scarred both inside and out, 21-year-old Seth Nichols is trying to put his life back together so he can take over the reins of his father’s global shipping empire. But the last person he expects to come back into his life is the man he drove away with one innocent, stolen kiss.
With one brush of his lips, Seth managed to do to Ronan what no other had since the day Ronan watched the light in his fiancé’s eyes go out forever. He made him need again. But Ronan can’t need anyone, least of all his dead fiancé’s younger brother. Because even one touch from Seth could shatter Ronan’s carefully constructed world and Ronan knows there’s no coming back from that a second time.
But when a series of escalating attacks against Seth forces Ronan back into his life, Seth knows it’s his last chance to show Ronan he can be the man the broken surgeon needs. Only the Ronan who returns isn’t the Ronan Seth fell in love with so long ago…
Can Seth be Ronan’s salvation or will he end up destroying them both?
I loved book one in this series, which rapidly became one of my top favorite audiobooks ever. That was due in large part to narrator Joel Leslie, so when I was offered a chance to listen to this book for review, I jumped at the chance. I believe what intrigues me most about his narration of this series is the variety of vocalizations he uses to differentiate characters and his hands-down-best-bedroom voice, ever. He puts a world of emotion into the sad and heartbreaking scenes that appear in this series. After all, each story touches on past abuses—physical and emotional—for each main character. But he also seems to inhabit the characters bodily (and boldly!) when they enter the bedroom. Let’s just say if I were a young gay man, I’d probably dream of meeting him, but as the opposite of that—an older cis female—I’d likely simply embarrass myself if I met him in person. But he does give me good fodder for interesting dreams. Just sayin’.
On to the story—in this one, Ronan, whom we met in book one, goes back to check on Seth, the young brother of Ronan’s male lover who was killed several years ago in a gay bashing that was covered up by the military. Seth suffers from social anxiety and lives somewhat like a hermit, only leaving his home to go in to the city a few times a week to take charge of the company his father founded.
Years ago, when Seth was a teen, his father was brutally murdered in front of him while he was held hostage and his mother raped. The killers were never found and based on recent activity around his estate, Ronan suspects something is still going on—either related to that or to something similar. Ronan and Seth are deeply attracted to each other, and several times during the story they have burn-the-sheets sex, and yet Ronan refuses to make a commitment to Seth. Seth doesn’t know how deeply Ronan was hurt when Trace was killed before his eyes and he himself was brutally raped with an iron pipe. This story is not pretty, but it’s exactly as it should be and it’s both thrilling and scary as someone tries hard to get to Seth. It’s almost equally painful to watch Ronan suffer when he truly needs to simply surrender to Seth, tell the truth, and move on with his life.
The characters from this story are interwoven with those from the first and even with the man who will become an MC in the third book—one I’m definitely looking forward to listening to on audio.
If you don’t mind reading dark stories of men who’ve suffered painful abuse in their past but who have the hope of a beautiful love in their future, by all means, consider this story. And if you want the best and most enriching experience, pick up the audio. You won’t regret it.