Title: The Only Easy Day (Sanctuary #2)
Author: R.J. Scott
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Cover Art: Reese Dante
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Action/Adventure, contemporary gay romance
Length: 196 pdf pages, 39 k words
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A fast-paced, action filled adversaries-to-lovers story.
***This review might contain spoilers for the first book in the series***
The Blurb: One dead girl, one scared witness, and two men trained as Navy SEALs. Whether searching for justice or revenge, the final showdown between them is the same—explosive.
Dale MacIntyre, former Navy SEAL, works for Sanctuary. He’s the acting handler for a member of the Bullen family’s inner circle. He’s close to obtaining the evidence he needs to prove Elisabeth Costain’s death was ordered by them… until someone gets in his way.
Joseph Kinnon, active Navy SEAL, is back on US soil for the first time in months, and he’s told the tragic news that his stepsister is dead, gunned down in an alley by an unknown assailant. He’s determined to find out who murdered her… until someone gets in his way.
They both want the same thing but have different methods of accomplishing their goals. They both want the Bullen family brought to account, but one wants justice and the other wants revenge.
What happens between them, however, has nothing to do with either.
Active Duty Navy SEAL Joseph Kinnon has been on a month-long war zone deployment, and once he returns home, battle-weary and tired, the first thing he hears is that his stepsister Elizabeth has been murdered. Though her actual killer is in custody, the further particulars of her death are still mysterious, especially what, or rather who, prompted her killer’s hand on the trigger.
Joseph and Elizabeth weren’t close; they only recently attempted to get to know each other better. Driven by remorse at the missed opportunity and by the respect he feels for Elizabeth’s father, his stepfather Robert Costain, Joseph sets out to solve the crime.
It isn’t long until Joseph, with the help of his team, learns that there is an eyewitness to Elisabeth’s murder. Searching for said witness, who apparently has dropped from the face of the earth, Joseph runs headfirst into Sanctuary, a secret private organization who protects witnesses the official agencies failed to keep safe. Specifically, he runs into Dale, an ex SEAL, who is one of Morgan’s, the witness’s, protectors.
It takes Dale and Joseph a while to realize that, in order to reach their common goal, they better combine their efforts and resources instead of wasting their energy on some kind of
pissing contest as to who’s the better man. Especially once they find themselves compelled to grudgingly admit the other’s qualities. It’s Dale in particular who has a hard time coming to terms with his feelings toward Joseph, as Dale is still struggling with a past experience that planted a deep resentment against SEALs within him. (which, by the way, lead to some gratuitous back and forth between them…) But once they combine strengths, there’s no stopping Dale and Joseph from whatever they set out to do – be it rescuing a hostage or getting under each other’s skin.
This was a fast-paced, gripping read with lots of action, of the fighting as well as of the man-on-man kind 😉
Though the premise of Joseph investigating on his own required some suspension of disbelief, particularly on the part of his helpful intelligence team in the background. I also found the blurb a little misleading, as I thought Dale didn’t quite qualify as an ex SEAL, having quit after the horrendous events on his very first mission. Likely a matter of definition.
As a character, I liked Dale a lot, his bouts of temper and his struggle for self-control, his stubbornness, his self-doubts and his resilience. Joseph, confident, determined, passionate and cold-blooded in one, was Dale’s perfect match. I could truly see those two men would bring out the worst and the best in each other, and I could see them forging a real commitment, let alone the sparks that flew between them almost right from the beginning. Adversaries-to-lovers happens to be a favorite of mine, and the change from instant dislike to reluctant respect, grudging mutual appreciation, affection and finally love was beautifully exercised here.
The secondary cast was well-drawn too, particularly Morgan and Nik, the leads from the previous book in the series. I liked the relationship dynamics between them, and although Morgan didn’t quite fit in among the strong, mean, taciturn testosterone-bombers that apparently make up the majority of Sanctuary’s staff, I could see his role and why Nik would fall for him, why Dale would feel protective towards him. And Sanctuary’s campy computer geek was a breath of fresh air!
So while the characterizations as well as the romance worked very well for me, the actual mystery didn’t, not really. Too many improbabilities were conveniently wiped away, including a totaled 300.000 $ Lamborghini and a hiking path that leads squarely into the middle of a highly guarded mobster’s backyard.
The mystery around Elisabeth’s dead wasn’t really solved yet in the end either. Although the actual killer had been known since book one, his motives continued to remain obscure. Who’s pulling the strings in the background is quite obvious by now, though there’s still room for more investigation, as befitting a book that’s part of a series.
The Only Easy Day is book two in the author’s Sanctuary series (book one, Guarding Morgan, was reviewed by Lasha here), but unlike many other series, this one doesn’t suffer from “middle book syndrome”, by which I mean a book that’s only there to knit some loose threads together and let others hang but doesn’t have a proper story on its own. This book tells a fairly well wrought story in its own right; originally, I read it as a standalone, and although I didn’t have all the information, there was enough so I could follow the general storyline. Thus I can recommend it as a solitary read as well as a part of this entertaining, enjoyable series.