But wait … Secret Service by Tal Bauer is a romance book. How does that work?
…Just tell me a story!
Lately I find myself writing into reviews that a romance story just has too much sex. No, I am not reading erotica, just typical contemporary romance. It isn’t that I am a prude. I am fully aware that sex is gonna happen in the books I read. But does S E X have to happen on every third page? When did bumping uglies come to mean romance? What happened to, you know, actual romance? More than that, sometimes an author is more of a storyteller than a writer and I just want the story. To get only a hint of a great story, can be frustrating.
An honor bound conspiracy hiding a secret that must be protected at all costs, the unknown sinister guy in charge has his own agenda. The men who are protecting the secret and the women they love are acceptable losses. Wait, how does the mystery play out? I don’t know because every other page the current HMC is sticking a body part into the hMC and the real story, the part the blurb on the back cover is based on, never actually progresses.
A Soldier is searching for his missing brother in a war zone. The men in his brother’s former unit seem to know more than they are telling and indigenous gossip tells an even different story. The poor MC is so broken up with grief he can barely function, but that is okay because the super sweet love interest (seriously, he really was romantic and I loved him) is there with copious amounts of the naked. However, all the pieces of the puzzle take up only a few pages despite being the whole reason for the young man to upend his life, join active military and travel to a dangerous country that is as foreign to him as one can get. That’s okay because there is just so much sex.
There are many other examples of “books” that had so much potential story lost to raging hormones. I will state for the record that the sex depicted both of the aforementioned novels (both of which I rated four stars) was Hawt AF. Still, the potential story peeked out from under the bed occasionally and that is what I wanted more of.
Secret Service is such a class example of how to do it right. Two men, not looking for love, or even sex, find themselves madly entranced with one another. One is a powerful man with powerful enemies and the other has the charge of keeping him safe. Their sweet build up, off-the-charts attraction is a distraction neither man can afford as the world is heading into chaos. In a single moment the powerful man is missing, and his guardian must move heaven and earth to find him before he is murdered or worse, all the while being suspected of orchestrating it. WTH! Why did no one see this coming? Sexy protector knows there is danger close to them, but he isn’t the only who has been deceived and he can’t make himself believe it is coming from a direction that (he would stake his life on) holds safety.
Admit it. Now you totally want to read this book. You should, it is a darned good book. More than that it is a great story. Sure, it happens to have sex, great sex even. With hearts leading the way and biology being what it is, that is going to happen. Not once though is it the focus of the story. It serves its purpose. To spice things up. To demonstrate the deep romantic feelings, they have for each other. To show why this love of theirs might really be a really bad idea or the best idea ever.
At its core this book is a Clancyesque thriller that never loses traction. It is populated with swoon worthy leading men and compelling secondary characters. War, bureaucracy, international intrigue and the burn of love and loyalty, in its many forms, keep the pages turning until there are none more, but seriously why aren’t there more? It’s like the grown-up version of a bedtime story. It can’t be over; I am still awake and the world still needs some saving.
And because my TBR is already completely out of control, what is the harm in adding a must-read author and a dozen more books to it. Though I should point out that must-read authors are the reason why my TBR is out of control.
reviewed via Kindle Unlimited