Return to Zero (Lily G’s Review)

Title: Return to Zero (Shatterproof Bond #3)
Author: Isobel Starling
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: June 6th 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary, romance, mystery/suspense
Page Count: 211 pages
Reviewed by:Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Pulled into a world of secrets and lies for the man he loves, Declan Ramsay’s life has changed immeasurably in the eight months since meeting, and falling for his boss’s son, Sam Aiken.  Declan journey of personal discovery is about to take a darker turn, and for Sam, the world becomes more treacherous than he could ever have imagined.

Two agents are missing — presumed dead, while on a reconnaissance mission at an outdoor adventure centre in the Scottish Highlands.  Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover the fate of the agents.

As the mission offers his first chance to use the skills he learned on the MI6 training course in Morocco, Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that the seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple, as they begin their mission.

The journey to their Highland location, and the discoveries they make when they reach the G’wan Adventures centre, prove that Sir James Aiken has been less than honest with his son.  Events in the Highlands force Sam and Declan to face their greatest fears, and understand what they both really want from life — and from each other.

Return to Zero is the third book in the series and definitely my favourite so far. The story is gripping and the connection between Sam and Declan is lovely now that the two have got to know each other. I’ve grown to like these two sexy men over the course of the stories. Sam is less of a mystery to me now and I can relate to his character more. I enjoyed their banter and fun times as well as the more serious thrashing out of issues. Yes, the sex is still hot, but their loving has a special edge to it now. Despite a few tantrums—and I was totally in agreement with Declan at the start of the story when he feels betrayed—they mesh together amazingly. There’s been lots going on behind the scenes and he’s not sure what’s going on. Like in his past, Declan seems to be unaware of his involvement in any particular case. I can understand why he felt out of the loop and blew his top. He needed to know what was going on and Sam didn’t really fill him in on the details at the start. As the story unfolds, they share more with each other and we get to know about their past experiences.

“Mist rose lazily from the ever moving river, and spread its tendrils eerily over the clearing.”

I adored the descriptive passages of the various settings in the Scottish Highlands and the exciting adventure Sam and Declan undergo in the last fast-paced section of the book. Our boys are no longer ‘would-be’ agents. They are now on a case and working together to solve an intriguing mystery. There are several heart-stopping, nail-biting moments, as well as some scenes between these boys that brought tears to my eyes. Wonderful writing there.

The epilogue is sweet and could be read as a HEA. But there’s a hint of a problem that still needs resolving and the next book is on its way. Yay! Sir James’s devious and lying nature is still a mystery to me and hopefully all will be explained.

My main grumble is the same as with the previous two books. They need a thorough editing to check for spelling and punctuation issues. Head-hopping still occurs between Declan and Sam’s perspectives within the same scene/paragraph, but not as frequently as before. My enjoyment of this particular story helped me overlook this to some extent as I read.

Overall, an exciting, emotional, and intriguing adventure. Recommended.

Catch up on the previous books in the series:

As You Wish (#0.5)  Goodreads     

Illuminate the Shadows (#1)  Goodreads    

Shatterproof Bond series

Buy Link Amazon Global Author Link GoodReads More Author Reviews

Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Return to Zero provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


Lily G. Blunt writes contemporary gay romance. She loves to explore the relationship between two men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of the men’s feelings for each other. Lily is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head, but only a few ever make it to the page. There never seems to be enough hours in the day despite having left the teaching profession to concentrate on her writing!

Lily discovered the wonderful world of m/m romance novels five years ago via fan fiction and went on to write stories in her spare time. With the encouragement of her friends and readers she decided to publish some of her work. Lily subsequently self-published several stories via Amazon and later published short stories with Torquere Press, Wayward Ink Publishing, and Pride Publishing.

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.