Series: The Protectors #5
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Length: 353 pages
Reviewed by Morningstar
At thirty-four years old, ex-DEA agent Memphis Wheland has lived, loved and lost…everything. The ultimate betrayal by the man he gave everything to has left Memphis with no family, no career and a bone deep bitterness that refuses to release him from its icy grip. His work with an underground vigilante organization is the only light in his otherwise bleak existence. That and the occasional no-strings hookup with men whose only focus in that moment, and for as long as Memphis wants them, is him and only him. No clingy exes, no unrequited love, no relationship drama. Period.
Because Memphis has one rule that he won’t break for anyone or anything. He doesn’t share.
Now if only someone had told that to the young man who would come into his life in the most unexpected way…
With his entire life ahead of him, graduate student Brennan Devereaux wasn’t expecting it to change in the blink of an eye. But when a case of mistaken identity nearly costs Brennan his life, it isn’t just his future that’s about to change, but his past too. Because for years he’s been in love with a young man who only sees him as a friend and nothing more. And while he was content to love Tristan Barretti from afar, he hadn’t expected to be drawn to the mysterious stranger who saved his life and changed it with a simple promise.
I’m not letting you go.
They were words spoken in the heat of the moment as the darkness of death had threatened to claim him, but even as Brennan’s love for Tristan refuses to wane, his need for the intriguing Memphis Wheland continues to grow.
But any relationship with Memphis means he has to let go of the one thing in his life he’s always valued above everything else…
At nineteen, Tristan Barretti should have had the world at his feet. His musical gifts have garnered him prestige as well as admission to the famed Julliard School in New York and he has a family that most people would kill for. But the protective bubble his fathers have kept him in has burst and he’s discovered that life outside his unconditionally loving family isn’t as accepting of a kid born with HIV. A poor decision to find answers to questions better left unasked, along with the complications of living with his disease, have Tristan returning to Seattle and the solace of his family.
And to the young man he’s wanted from the time he was barely old enough to even understand what that meant.
But with an uncertain future that leaves him nothing to offer the gorgeous and successful Brennan Devereaux, Tristan knows the best he can hope for is to keep building on the friendship they’ve shared for years and not get his hopes up that Brennan will be the one man who sees him and not his disease.
Except all bets are off when danger follows him home…
Even though a physical relationship with Brennan was supposed to be just that, Memphis finds himself unable to refuse his young lover’s request to help put a stop to the threat against Tristan. Even knowing full well that Brennan’s heart lies with the man he claims is nothing more than a friend, Memphis accepts the challenge of ensuring Tristan’s safety.
But when the quiet music student stops being a “job” and starts being something much more, Memphis is torn between his growing feelings for both young men and the fear that he’ll be facing an even greater betrayal that he’ll never be able to come back from.
Except none of that matters when the threat that Memphis never saw coming puts Brennan and Tristan in the crosshairs.
And the cost of the vengeance he once craved suddenly comes at too high a price…
Starting a Sloane Kennedy book is like knowing the ride you are about to get one will be rough and scary but it’ll always end on the sweetest note that will make you smile and want to get back on for another go. Her men are always flawed but good at heart, even if they don’t think so, and family is always at the center.
Vengeance was no different. What these three men go through together and separate is terrifying and hard plus the aftermath of trying to keep it all together while life has just thrown the biggest, nastiest wrench into it is more than they could face. Sloane has this way of creating men that no matter their size, career, or status in life are possessive, strong, and even if they don’t know it, have a love of family in whatever manner it is made up.
Brennan reminds me of the person that is not what you think on the surface. He seems shy and insecure but in Memphis’s arms he comes alive and his true strength and wants surface. Brennan’s well of strength runs so deep and fierce you don’t see it coming until it’s already upon you. He knows that Tristan holds his heart but he has no chance with him so he takes a chance on the man that saved his life, the man he couldn’t forget.
Memphis is the brooding, flawed man with a mysterious but painful past who works for and is now the head of the underground vigilante group. He is happy to take over the day to day operations for Ronan because his job gives him purpose after losing everything years before. You can see this man holding back from the people in his life and sometimes even sense the pain he is in actually rolling off of him. Memphis is controlled in all things except for when Brennan comes along. He tries, he really does, but Brennan slips under his skin before he even knows it. Trust is the one thing Memphis doesn’t have in people.
Tristan has a secret. He did something stupid and now he holds the knowledge deep inside, not telling another living soul and runs back home leaving New York and Juilliard behind. No great loss since nothing was making him happy there anyway. He also missed his best friend Brennan terribly. In a lot of ways Tristan is a lot more naive and innocent than I thought he would be. But it truly suits him and how he fits in with these two men. But do not let his innocence fool you because he is smart and strong and is willing to fight for what he wants when he realizes it’s there for the taking.
The age gap in this story was one of my favorite parts. Each one of these men were so different from the other with the experiences they went through, the family lives they had, and the people they were that those things helped create. I loved that Tristan the youngest, although not the one who had the easiest life, was all innocence but had this way about him that just made these men feel wanted and safe with him. Brennan was a contradiction to me. He was strong and insecure, sure and wavering, determined and yielding. This wasn’t bad at all it actually made him a complex character that you were never quite sure how he would handle any given situation which allowed for a lack of predictability in some parts of the books. Whereas Memphis was the stable one to my shock. Even with a difficult past and him always wanting to run as far and fast as he could from Brennan and Tristan you knew who he was and what to expect from him.
I loved this story of these three flawed and fantastic men. There were some things that I felt could’ve used better development but it was a personal preference for the story more than something innately wrong with the story. I am so glad that Sloane puts these stories out so fast because they are so well written with some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Can’t wait for Magnus and Dante!
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