Title: Love and Payne
A THIRDS Universe Novel
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Length: 200 pages
Reviewed by Erin
Austen Payne, THIRDS Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta and TIN operative, has seen the worst the world has to offer, faced lethal killers, and helped bring down dangerous organizations. But nothing terrifies him more than falling in love. After years of undercover work, Austen is a master at defending himself and protecting his heart… until he meets Osmond Zachary.
THIRDS Defense Agent Osmond Zachary has a huge, doting family, yet something is missing in his life. After meeting grumpy, foul-mouthed, jittery cheetah Therian Austen Payne, Zach knows exactly what that something—or someone—is. Unfortunately Austen seems determined to avoid Zach at all costs.
When Zach foils an assassination attempt, he ends up in the killer’s crosshairs, and Austen is Zach’s best chance at staying alive. Zach hopes the crisis will bring them closer, but Austen has every intention of walking away as soon as the danger is over.
Happily ever after isn’t for guys like Austen, but Zach is determined to show him it can be….
So for any tried and true THIRDS fan, of which there are very many I know, we've been waiting for what seems like FOREVER to get to Austen Payne's story. He's been in the background, just waiting for his moment to shine, and let me tell you people, the wait was SO very worth it. Love and Payne is EVERYTHING we've been waiting for ... and more. Charlie Cochet has given us one hell of a book, full of all the action and banter and excitement you'd expect from a book in the THIRDS universe.
Austen Payne knows what it takes to get the job done, and he's not afraid of making hard decisions to protect those he's been assigned to take care of but no one gets under his skin quite like Osmond Zachary. As a Squadron Specialist Agent working for Destructive Delta (Sloane and Dex's division) Austen has been around Zach for a long time, and though he tries to keep his distance--no matter how hard Dex tries to meddle--there's just something about the bear Therian that Austen can't resist. He knows everything there is to know about Zach, including that he's too good for someone like Austen. With his large, both in Therian size and sheer numbers of siblings, Zach is the complete opposite of Austen in every way.
Zach has been attracted to Austen for a long time. So much so that when he's injured in the line of duty and Austen sneaks into his hospital room to check up on him, none of Zach's huge family isn't surprised to find the elusive cheetah Therian in the room. When it becomes apparent that Zach is in danger, his family rallies the troops, and my god there's so many of them, and they head to the Zachary family compound with Austen in charge of keeping Zach safe.
Ah, forced proximity, it's one of my favorites, and Love and Payne is the perfect example of why. Because Zach and Austen have to spend so much time together, it doesn't take long at all for Austen's seemingly impenetrable walls to crumble like dust. I mean who could really resist someone as sweet and charming as Zach anyway? Or that huge, nosy but lovable Zachary family? Austen tries, but he doesn't last long and watching these two fall in love was all kinds of swoony and romantic. Oh there's the banter we've all come to expect from one of Charlie's books, and there are bad guys and lots of bullets and fighting and action ... Austen is one badass agent that's for sure.
I would have thought going into Love and Payne that I would miss the guys (and girls!) from Destructive Delta, but I really didn't. Dex and Sloane are mentioned but you never see them and that's really okay. I loved meeting Zach's family and Austen's relationship with Brayden was very cool, too. I hope there are books to come about some of the Zachary brothers! All in all, this was a fun book, with some pretty hot sexy times, lots of laughs, and plenty of action a THIRDS universe book should have. Any fan of the THIRDS will love this book so be sure to check it out!
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