Author: Josh Lanyon
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Publisher:: Just Joshing Publishing Inc.
Amazon: Kick Start (Dangerous Ground #5)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella/128 pages
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK
Review Summary: Will and Taylor finally realize what’s most important in their lives – each other
Will is finally braced to bring Taylor home to meet the folks. Unfortunately, not every member of the Brandt clan loves Taylor the way Will does.
Then again, not everyone loves the Brandts. In fact, someone has a score to settle — and too bad for any former DSS agents who get in the way when the bullets start to fly.
It’s been more than two years since Dead Run, Dangerous Ground 4. A lot has happened since the end of book 4 when Will proposed and they got engaged, a major step in the right direction after all the uncertainties of ex lovers who didn’t want to remain exes, as well as career and other challenges such as being apart in different countries for long periods of time.
If you thought that Kick Start would follow the tradition of the other books in the series with a lot of shoot-em-up action and adventure you’re partly right, because the story starts out with a bang – Will in an extremely dangerous and precarious situation, something he’s accustomed to, but this time it looks like there’s no way he could come out of it alive … but of course he does, barely. No sooner had he extricated himself from this predicament that the personal situation between him and Taylor boils over as it apparently had been rife with undercurrents and seething resentments for some time because Will had turned down a posting to Paris for both of them with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) where they worked, without consulting him.
Since they had no job Will and Taylor had set up their own global consulting firm but they didn’t have a business strategy and it looked like no one was willing to hire them, other than low level scumbags. It immediately became clear that although there would be the expected action and adventure in the book, Kick Start was also going to be an emotional journey covering many unresolved past relationship issues, uncharted territory for the guys. They fought about everything, but the crux of their issues was they were scared about their future, which looked bleak. They had no money, they were in debt, had maxed out their credit cards and had no new assignments on the horizon after the last disastrous one where Will almost died. To make matters worse they had no health insurance, consequently they could not afford to be injured on the job, thus limiting their job options. Stress was their constant companion and it affected every aspect of their lives, even the sex. As businessmen they sucked and they realized too late that being out in the cold cruel world was completely different to what they were accustomed to and posed challenges they didn’t know how to navigate; being field agents with DSS now seemed like a walk in the park. To make matters a whole lot worse, Taylor’s resentment about Will quitting DSS for both of them without consulting him was not something he could easily forgive or forget, and their personal relationship was at the breaking point. Could they salvage what they once had or would it be tarnished when they had to cope with life’s daily challenges?
Just when they thought their situation couldn’t get any worse, Will decided to visit his family in Oregon as his brother Grant was leaving soon for his first posting with the marines. He reluctantly invited Taylor along even though he was concerned about what would happen with Grant who didn’t know that he was gay, and he realized that staying in close quarters at the family cabin would make it obvious that he and Taylor were sharing a bed. When faced with the fact that his big brother was not the person he had idolised all his life, how would Grant react?
This story was much more nuanced than previous books which were filled with lots of breathtaking action sequences – here the action was more personal but I don’t want you to get the impression that there wasn’t lots of excitement. There were scary threats against Will’s family by inept gun-toting good ole’ boys who had an axe to grind, as well as the realization that they were being tailed but they had no idea why. However it was the tension that was so palpable between Taylor and Will that kept me glued to the pages. Both of them were stretched tighter than they had ever been as they faced an unfamiliar and uncertain future. The only solution to their financial woes, albeit temporary, was not one they wanted to pursue as it would be a hit to their already bruised egos. The tense situation and unspoken words hanging in the air were not so much a duel for supremacy between them but rather a test of whether they could give each other the emotional support he needed. Will’s vulnerability and feelings of inadequacy, rarely visible before, were now exposed. Dealing with these new feelings that threatened to overwhelm him showed a new maturity in his character as he realized he couldn’t control most aspects of his life and that his sole anchor was his partner.
These two MCs have always been inept when it came to handling their personal relationship and they made many missteps in previous books. Communication had never been a strong point between them and this time the “lost opportunity” of an overseas posting for Taylor became a tipping point. Taylor had no experience at long term relationships and he truly wanted what he and Will had to last forever, but was he prepared to do what it would take to repair the huge gulf that had developed between them? Their relationship had gone through so many changes since they met 5 years ago that you would think they would know each other inside out, yet there were ongoing potholes that they couldn’t figure out how to navigate.
These guys have been two of my favourite MCs since I read Dangerous Ground, the first book in this series, and I enjoy their differences and all of their adventures, but in Kick Start it was the intense emotion and heightened tension and their inability to deal with the stresses these caused, despite the deep love between them, that moved me. No longer were they secure and confident and living the high life in exciting jobs and places: they were now unemployed, facing an uncertain future with all that entailed just like ordinary folk, and they were ill equipped to deal with the pressures and stresses.They were clearly unaccustomed to coping with life’s whims and they made many blunders in trying to solve their issues by using the same skills they had employed in their previous job, which proved to be woefully inadequate as real life doesn’t work that way.
Kick Start is a new direction in the series arc and a very interesting fork in the road, something that I welcome and believe will deepen the emotional ties and love between Will and Taylor and make this series even more exciting. There is a whole lot more to this book as the plot is quite intricate but you will have to discover that for yourself.
Highly, highly recommended..