This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon
A Scotsman and an Englishman fall in love…
After the most amazing week of his life, at Dunloch Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, in Scotland. The charming, mysterious Samuel Aiken has turned Declan Ramsay’s life upside down. Declan has experienced a remarkable change. He has come to terms with the fact he is bisexual, and he has fallen head-over-heels in love with his boss’s son Sam.
However, falling for his boss’s son was never going to be an easy path to happiness, mainly because the boss in question is multi-millionaire property tycoon and former MI5 operative, Sir James Aiken.
Sir James is repulsed by his son’s homosexuality, and so discovering that his employee Declan Ramsay – the man he installed to run his luxury property rental empire – is in a relationship with Sam, does not go down well.
The lovers cannot hide from the looming presence of Sir James Aiken for long! Soon enough James makes his move, and Declan finds out what he will have to endure to stay with Sam, and what he will have to give to feel worthy of Sam’s love.
Rating: Narration – B+: Content – C
I listened to As You Wish, the first book in Isobel Starling’s Shatterproof Bond series a few months back, and while I had some issues with parts of it (there was a fair bit of head-hopping and the writing was choppy in places), I liked the characters and the premise sufficiently to want to give the next book, Illuminate the Shadows, a try.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead for As You Wish.)
In As You Wish, brawny Scot Declan Ramsey and his boss’s son, Sam Aiken, met online when they worked together to plan the wedding of Sam’s sister to Declan’s brother. Over a year or regular correspondence – Sam was working abroad – they got to know each other quite well, but nothing could have prepared Declan for the incredible pull of attraction he felt towards Sam when they finally met, especially as Declan had always identified as straight. Declan and Sam entered into a relationship (and had a lot of sex!) but at the end of the book, Declan learned that Sam, whom he’d been led to believe was an interpreter, actually worked for the covert security agency run by his father, Sir James Aiken, a former MI5 operative whose company now works with and for both MI5 and MI6. Sam wants out – but his father – who is already Declan’s boss because Declan works for his international property management company – gave the couple an ultimatum; Declan joins the agency or they can never see each other again. Unwilling to be separated, they go for option one.
At the beginning of Illuminate the Shadows, Declan is kidnapped by Sir James’ people and taken to his “interview” – which basically consists of his being tied to a chair, injected with various drugs and questioned for a week. (And it’s all a bit silly, really!) We learn that Sir James has actually been interested in him for longer than Declan has known Sam, owing to what Declan avers is his completely unwitting involvement in a number of covert operations. When the “interview” is over, Declan is dumped, unconscious, on his doorstep, leaving Sam to take care of him.
And that’s about it as far as the plot goes. There’s an interesting snippet of information dropped about Declan’s childhood that I suspect may come to play a greater role in the overarching plot, but overall, I was quite disappointed with this story. I know that this is a serial, so each instalment isn’t self-contained, but other than Sam and Declan both being assigned to the same job, and a bit of drama when the couple tells their respective siblings about their relationship –and Declan’s brother freaks out – there’s not much going on here, other than Sam and Declan dirty talking, groping and having more sex. Which isn’t a bad thing, I just wanted a bit more story.
Sam’s father is a total git, freely acknowledging that he hates that his only son is gay, and so deliberately sends him to locations – Saudi Arabia, Russia – where actually engaging in homosexual acts could get him imprisoned or killed; he’s downright creepy. As with the previous book, there’s a lot of head-hopping going on, switching from a single PoV to an omnipotent one and back again; the first chunk of the book is pretty much entirely devoted to the “interview” and there’s not a lot of relationship development. Which there should have been, given these guys only met face to face a few months earlier, they’ve been apart for the last three months and Declan has never had a male lover before. I like them together and they’re clearly head-over-heels for one another, but I didn’t much sense of a connection that went beyond sex.
Gary Furlong does a more than decent job with the narration, and the Scottish accent he adopts for Declan is consistent (and sexy). He gets Sir James’ smarminess down pat, Sam’s youthful enthusiasm is expertly rendered and the secondary characters are all clearly delineated. His participation as narrator is the reason I picked up this and the previous book, but the story in this one isn’t strong enough to encourage me to continue with the series.