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Book Roundup - 2023 Year End pt 2 - Susan-Alia Terry

Book Roundup – 2023 Year End pt 2

Jan 21, 2024 | Book Roundup

This year I fell down the M/M romance rabbit hole. Outside of fan fiction, I’d forgotten that M/M romance existed. It was lovely discovering it again.
On to it!

Dealing Him In (The Kings: Royal Flush Book 1), Cochet, Charlie (4 stars)

This was the first book in the Four Kings universe that I read.
Santos “Saint” Cavallero— a former Navy Seal and current employee of Four Kings Security—lusts after the hunky Fire Chief Valentino “Val” Serrano. The fly in the ointment here is that Saint was under the impression that he was straight.
Everyone at Kings just happens to be gay/pan/bi and out and Saint is cool with it. It doesn’t bother him that he’s the only straight person there. But it does bother him that Val is making him crazy.
Val is older and out. In fact he was the first openly gay fire chief of St. Augustine, Florida. He’s noticed the young and hot Saint, but dreaming about being with him is nuts—the man is straight.
An attempt on Val’s life sets him and Saint on a path for a happily ever after. But before that happens they must navigate Saint’s bi-ness, Val’s hesitance, and someone pissed off enough to keep trying to kill them.
Ugh. I loved this book.
The characters were well drawn and so likeable. The sex was hot and satisfying.
I appreciated that Saint kinda, sorta, thought he was bi, and was willing to examine his feelings. I appreciated that Val was adamant about not going back into the closet and that Saint figure his shit out. I appreciated the fact that the characters not only talked about safe sex, but used it until they had a conversation about stopping. The author does do this stylistic thing that bugs me, but I think that’s just my inner editor bitching.
This book was a respectful, hot romance between two solid and wonderful guys.

Four Kings Security Boxed Set (4 books), Cochet, Charlie (4 stars)

Thanks to Dealing Him In, I fell in love with the family that is King’s Security. The things I appreciated about that book, I appreciated about these. Add to that guaranteed HEAs, found family, action and a bit of humor.
The boxed set features 4 books:
Love in Spades:
Anston “Ace” Sharpe is ex-Special Forces and a wild child. He and his SF buddies created Four King’s Security ten years ago, and now they’re one of the top private security firms in Florida. They do everything from corporate cyber intelligence to executive protection.
Ace is assigned to protect Colton Connolly, scion of a shipping magnate. The minute they meet Sparks! Sparks! Sparks! But getting involved with a client is unprofessional. Ace is all for breaking rules, except that one. But Colton wants him, and what Colton wants, Colton gets.
Watching the cat and mouse, the slow seduction was just so much fun. They are such different people: Colton is cultured and suave, Ace is a big kid. They complement and balance each other out. Perfect intro to the series.

Be Still My Heart:
The story of former Special Forces Russell “Red” McKinley and his blossoming romance with Lazarus “Laz” Galanos.
Red is suffering from PTSD which has helped to destroy all his past romantic entanglements. Recently injured on an executive protection case, Red has been sidelined. The injury and inaction are factors that exacerbate his PTSD.
Laz, an up and coming fashion photographer is the brother of Colton Connolly’s best friend, and thus part of the family. During a party in his honor at Colton’s house, Laz is injured in an altercation with his (now ex) boyfriend. Red, being a medic, is the first to come to his aid. Sparks! Sparks! Sparks!
This was a “quieter” book than the others. Red is a fucking sweetheart who is also in pain. Laz has been with an abusive asshole for years, and he’s looking for a soft place to land.
Calm and sweet.

Join the Club:
The story of Eduardo “Lucky” Morales who came to the US as a young child from Cuba and is now ex Green Beret, and Mason Cooper a sexy cop from Texas.
Lucky, Ace’s cousin, is a playboy. One and done, no emotions, no commitments. He’s also a pain in the ass if you ask Mason. Lucky flirts one too many times and when Mason has enough, he must put his money where his mouth is.
I’ve found I have a thing for the “enemies to lovers” trope as long as it’s believeable. Like no Nazi/slave owner paired with their victims crap. But something like these two. They’re all “he’s hot but wouldn’t it be great he wasn’t annoying?” Of course they stop being annoyed with each other once they’ve satisfied the need for sexy times. Get out the popcorn, it’s a fun read.
By this time in the series I began to really appreciate the Hispanic representation in these books. It was nice that a good portion of the cast is Hispanic.

Diamond in the Rough:
Ward “King” Kingston is the glue that holds Four Kings together. Their brother, their leader, and their friend. He is asked to safeguard a four-star general’s son—a personal favor. Because it’s personal, King agrees.
King meets Leo, the general’s son, during the chaos of a lockdown at secret black site. A lockdown caused when Leo went searching for snacks. Leo is brilliant, his mind works differently than most. He charms the pants off Ward (heh). They’re an unlikely pair, but they work.
I have three hands down favorites in this series, and this is one of them. We get to see King in all his alpha badassery—and it’s glorious. We also get to see him fall into a pile of mush with Leo, and it’s adorable.
I admit, when I first came across Leo in Dealing Him In, I didn’t like him as much as I did here. Ms. Cochet takes her time with the characters. He’s very well drawn and interesting.

The Kings: Wild Cards Boxed Set (3 books), Cochet, Charlie (4 stars)

The Wild Cards are a spin-off in the Kings Security Universe. All of these characters appear in the previous books.
This box set features 3 books:
Stacking The Deck
Ex-Special Forces Jacopo “Jack” Constantino’s life is pretty boring. His brothers-in-arms are the ones that see all the action, but doing cybersecurity keeps him behind a computer.
Fitz left the fashion world and all its drama to open a salon back home in St. Augustine.
Two years ago when Jack and Fitz first met, there were Sparks! Sparks! Sparks! But Fitz had a boyfriend and was off to Europe for work.
Now Fitz is back and both he and Jack think their time is past. But their meddling friends have other ideas.
Did I like the book? Yes. However, I think Jack and Fitz as characters weren’t that interesting. I wasn’t as transported with this book as I was with the others.

Raising The Ante:
Former firefighter Frank Ramirez owns and runs one of the most prestigious gay nightclubs in Florida—featured prominently throughout the series.
Joshua Sterling, newly promoted to the position of Executive Assistant to billionaire Colton Connolly has his sights set on Frank, but Frank sees him only as a young kid. Joshua sets out to show him he’s no where near being a kid.
This was more of a short story. Frank running from Joshua, Joshua pursuing—they finally end up on the same page. I just want to see these guys happy.

Sleight of Hand:
Sacha “Joker” Wilder, ex-Special Forces demolition expert and his best boy Chip, a bomb sniffing police dog with sass, get to come front and center in this book.
Joker thinks billionaire, philanthropist Giovanni “Gio” Galanos, brother of Laz and best friend to Colton, is an asshole. He’s told that to his face on multiple occasions.
But Gio sees something in Joker, a desire to submit. And maybe Joker sees it too. But trust is hard, especially when you can’t trust anybody.
Of the characterizations in these books, I think Joker’s is the best. He’s got so much personality. I was really looking forward to his book, and it didn’t disappoint. There’s lots and lots of layers to Joker, and Gio (thanks to Ms. Cochet) navigates them masterfully.
Chip is fucking adorable.
I was so invested in the characters that the sex became a distraction. I was all “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what’s gonna happen next?”

Aisle Be There (Runaway Grooms Book 1) Cochet, Charlie ( 4 stars)

The Runaway Grooms series is another spin-off from the Kings Security universe. This is the only book currently available.
Gage, wearing an outfit of made of seashells and regret is about to walk down the aisle and marry a man who he may not love. Definitely doesn’t love. So he ditches the seashell contraption and makes a break for it.
Unfortunately, finding clothes along the tourist shops of South Florida means standing out even more. It’s wearing this unfortunate outfit that he runs into (literally) his long lost love Jett, lead singer of Queen’s Hart.
Jett is tired of living in his father’s shadow. Having filled his father’s shoes as the lead singer for the band Queen’s Hart, all he does is live in the past. And when an asshole DJ gets under his skin, he’s done with it all. A chance meeting with Gage, the one that got away, could change his whole life for the better.
My third favorite.
It’s a rock and roll fantasy complete with cool band mates and a love song. What’s not to love?

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