Series: Until You
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Publication Date: January 13, 2019
Length: 85,800 Words
Reviewed by Sammy
Years ago Asher Winsome almost lost his life in the jaws of a great white shark. It was the scariest moment of his life—until his four-year-old nephew is kidnapped. Called home to be with his family, who see him as the black sheep, Asher must rely on every bit of his courage if he’s going to help get his nephew back. But this is not an ordinary kidnapping. And the outcome will leave Asher running for his life.
Former FBI agent Alec Banner buries himself in his work to forget everything that’s missing in his life. His job, at a private company run by an old friend, locating missing children can be tough and brutal, but Alec is no stranger to working with the worst of humanity. From the minute he’s called to help on the Winsome kidnapping he knows something is different.
Thrown together under such difficult circumstances Asher and Alec are drawn to each other’s unrelenting courage even in the face of their fears. But a relationship begun under such impossible stress can’t survive. When his job is finished Alec runs from Asher and his growing feelings, but the danger hasn’t passed, in fact it has only just begun. And both men will need to be brave if they are to survive.
Author Karrie Roman has released her fourth book in her Until You series entitled, Valor. Focusing on the last unattached member of the private investigation company that helps locate and rescue missing children, we pick up with Alec Banner as he takes on a job that will have him questioning not only the single life he leads but the loneliness that accompanies it.
When a four year old boy is snatched from his nanny’s arms in a local park, Alec is dispatched to help the Winsome family find him and bring him home. From the cold-hearted patriarchs to the boy’s frantic parents, Alec realizes this will not be an easy case, particularly since the abduction has all the earmarks of revenge. When the boy’s uncle returns home to help, Alec is first struck by the man’s beauty and then by his courage. But fear and stress make strange bedfellows and the attraction that Alec feels for Asher Winsome is undoubtedly never going to go any further when the case is resolved or so Alec convinces himself.
As the case evolves and the danger moves from the young boy to his uncle, Alec realizes he has thrown away something precious when he walked away from Asher. Now he must do everything in his power to keep Asher safe and try to make amends for ever doubting that the feelings the two had experienced were real and possibly something that could change their lives—if they live long enough to risk it all.
This was quite an intense read. From the devastating abduction of little Jack to the threats on Asher’s life there was very little time to even catch your breath in this novel. The action was non-stop and well done. This was really two mysteries in one with the same villain, who the author manages to keep under wraps almost to the very end, featured in both parts. The first half of this book focuses on recovering little Jack and the nightmare the family must go through in order to bring him home safe. I must tell you that this author didn’t sugarcoat the reality of what can happen to abducted children—it isn’t that we experience any physical harm to Jack—not at all—but that doesn’t mean we are not subjected to the realities of what can happen to children who disappear. Please know that while there is never a moment in this novel where the author describes any type of abuse toward little Jack, she also never shies away from having Alec and the FBI explain to Asher just how abducted children are sold on the black market.
The second half of this book dealt with the fallout of Asher recognizing one of the key players in the kidnapping. Asher was never fragile but he was needy and stretched to his emotional limit. When he turns to Alec for comfort he finds a willing partner. Alec is grappling with the fact that the job has become his life. He’s tired of the nameless one night stands and the lack of a relationship that could spell happiness for him. He is lonely and Asher is there and the rest, as they say, is history. But Alec is his own worst enemy when it comes to believing he can be loved. So we watch these two men circle each other as their chance at happiness together goes down the drain. When Alec is called out again to help protect Asher he realizes just what he cut loose and how foolish he had been to do so.
There was a great deal to like about this book. Fast paced action, a solid mystery that kept the reader on their toes and two slightly broken men who find solace in each other. I think the only thing that made me pause had to be a stray comment near the end of the novel that indicated perhaps there had been someone to tip off the killer before Alec and his team moved in to take them down. I wasn’t sure why the author chose to dangle that out there but not resolve it. I kept wondering if there was going to be yet another attempt on Asher’s life since Alec and the team all wondered just how they almost been bested. But nothing came from that and perhaps it was just the mystery lover in me that saw substance where there were only ghosts, so to speak.
Despite that, I felt Valor was a solid mystery with enough suspense and romance to satisfy. It can be read as a standalone but I must say that having not read the others beforehand I will be rectifying that oversight by going back and picking up the other three novels in this series. I really enjoyed this story and think it is one that fans and mystery lovers will truly enjoy.
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