The Handler by Stefan Seabourne

Title: The Handler
Author: Stefan Seabourne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M Contemporary/Action/Suspens
Length: Novella (135 PDF pages)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Lily

Review Summary
I was drawn to this book by both the cover, which I really like, and the blurb. Unfortunately the story never quite lived up to my expectations although it may work for others.

BLURB

Victor Thorogood is a senior agent for Paladin, a security company that provides discreet protection for elite clients. When he’s assigned with his partner and best friend Brendan Borden to guard Prince Arkadio of Tramontaigne, he doesn’t expect to like the spoiled aristocrat and is proven a true prophet. But the young prince reveals the steel under his silken exterior during an abduction attempt, compelling Victor to develop an unlikely respect for him. As the two men are forced to rely on one another for survival, admiration warms into an emotion Victor was afraid he’d never feel.

REVIEW

Victor and his partner and friend Brendan are bodyguards working for a top notch security firm. Their latest assignment is to protect Prince Arkadio ‘Kasha’ of Tramontaigne on his visit to New York. Things seem to be going well at first but before long the simple ‘royal babysitting’ job is anything but simple. Victor and the Prince must work together if they are to have any hope of surviving the dangerous situation they find themselves in. At first unsure of the young man Victor is thankful to find a backbone of steel in the young aristocrat but will it be enough and if they do make it can anything come of the feelings developing between them?

The story starts out well enough with the men shown as typical for their roles. Kasha is young, sexy and seemingly quite spoiled while Victor is stern, tough and somewhat cold. As the story progresses we get to see them both in a different light, Kasha displays strength while Victor shows a softer, almost vulnerable, side. I enjoyed seeing them develop as their situation deteriorated. However despite the author attempting to show a deeper side to them they never truly felt like three-dimensional characters. Victor is in his mid-thirties and Kasha is about fifteen years younger yet it’s Kasha who’s the experienced one while Victor is in essence a virgin having never been with a man. He’s hidden his desires for years and is all about the job yet in the middle of their situation, locked in a safe room, they have sex. This was one of my biggest problems with the story as I felt if was totally against character for Victor. It didn’t make sense that Victor, knowing at any moment the bad guys could walk in, knowing he’s essentially got no real way to defend his client and having saved himself for the man of his dreams all this time would be okay with having sex in the middle of such a situation.

Another problem for me was that despite the book’s length of 135 pages most of the story takes place in less than a full days time with a short follow up two years later. I didn’t feel that the short span of time, mostly filled with violence and fear, was conducive to falling in love. Once the situation is under control they are quickly parted with no communication for two years. The next chapter then reunites them and the things that stood in their way are all of a sudden resolved. The story ends with a super sweet HEA ending for the Prince and his bodyguard but frankly by then I was just happy to have reached the end of the book.

I did like the premise of the story and enjoyed some parts of it. The identity of the bad guy was somewhat surprising and even though there is a lot of violence there was also a bit of humor and some tender moments. The sex scenes are hot and the ending was nice but there was some annoying head hopping throughout the story.

Overall for me this was a disappointing read. This is just my opinion and most definitely may not be how others feel once they read The Handler.

41 comments

  • The cover and blurb lured me in. I bought this ebook a few days before your review was posted. When I saw your rating, I said “Well, damn”. Im glad its the first novel, so possibly better books are on the horizon.
    Brendan gave himself away by the way he handled seeing the monkey in the ceiling. What kind of top notch security agent, makes such a amateurish mistake? They dont, his butt was guilty.

    Reply
  • Like many others, I really wanted to read this one, but unfortunately, Lily’s review makes me want to give it a pass. The issues she has mentioned are all ones which really bug me as a reader. I wish the publisher or editor had worked with the author on the story a bit more, and avoid these shortcomings. It sounds as if the writer has a lot of potential and this novella could have been wonderful with more guidance. I’ll stay on the lookout for the next one.

    Reply
    • EM, I would definitely read the author’s next story. This story had lots of missed potential and hopefully the next one will meet that potential.

      Reply
  • *sweat drop* it´s really a pity, it looked very promising, one of these books you want to lay hands as soon as possible. It will be interesting to keep an eye in future releases by this author and see if there are changes in the style since the premises looked good.
    Thank you for your review 🙂

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, Helena! From the little information I could find this appears to be his first published story. Hopefully the next story will be improved. I’d definitely give him another try. 🙂

      Reply
  • I really wanted to like this novella too, but there were too many bumps – too short, stepping out of character, the inappropriate sex venue, the annoying pseudo-rapist, the falling in love too fast. Also, and spoilers here… the betrayal of one of the characters seemed like a throw-in. His “death” very early in the novel didn’t seem to have much of an affect on his “friend.” Even when the betrayal is voila’d, Victor’s not very torn up about it. I think what was missing most in this story was emotional impact. I didn’t feel anything for the characters, didn’t care. Perhaps if Victor, Brendan and Prince Arkadio had been fleshed out more.

    Again, it’s too bad because I’d really love to find a good m/m suspense/mystery novel with a clever plot, action, endearing characters, affection and wit.

    Reply
  • Thanks for taking one for the team, Lily. Like Wave, this reminds me of a Mia Watts story I read and reviewed where the two protags smexxed it up in inappropriate places and times — like at a crime scene. That drops the rating just there. Add the other things you mention, and we’re below a three-star read. How unfortunate; like others, I think the cover is great and the blurb looks like it would be a good story.

    Reply
    • Lol you’re welcome, Lynn! 🙂

      I think I’ve read that one as well. I’m all for the guys smexing it up but please make it believable. That situation was absolutely not. A total let down because the cover/blurb really caught my attention.

      Reply
  • I hate to see this, because it kinda looked like a good read. Oh well. I may still read it, it will just go down on the list. LOL Delurking isn’t kicking my ass, because I always got something to say. 😉

    Reply

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