I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
First off, I'm going to announce right off the bat that there is no possible way I can summarize or discuss everything that is included in this book. Every character, situation, or relationship I mention, know there are 5+ characters, 10+ situations, and 20+ relationships behind everything I am mentioning. Ok, I'm going to give it the ol' college try since that is cleared up.
This is a longer book and is essentially broken up into two parts. The first half involves our reluctant hero Ian being reluctantly released from jail. Reluctant? Remember those + things? Strap in girls and boys, there are about to be some controlled chaos story arcs. Ian doesn't want to be broken out of jail because he made a deal with the head of the Dellarosa mob family. Ian is serving prison time in exchange for the continued safety of his brother and his brother's family. Ian's brother is gay whose soulmate just happens to be a son in the Dellarosa mob family, which doesn't sit well with a couple members, so while they live as inconspicuously as possible, Ian's deal, along with a very tainted guardian angel, is keeping them alive. So when two lawyers come offering a deal, he is not interested. Martell offers Ian a get out of jail free card if the former SEAL and currently suspected jewel thief helps rescue two children from a Kazakhstan embassy. The other lawyer Phoebe is there to represent Ian's interest and is present due to pure happenstance. She is new to her firm but because of a car accident involving the partner's and their family, she was the only one in the office and thrust into the situation. The rest of the first half involves Ian working to gather his friends and family together to ensure everyone's safety as the Dellarosa's gun for them thinking Ian has reneged on their deal, ironing out a contract with Martell and the FBI, and discovering some sexual chemistry with Phoebe.
Now that all the players have been gathered together, the second half is enacting the mission to save the two children. This is where past situations and relationships really come to the forefront. There are multiple POVs and flashbacks to explain why all these characters are the way they are. The reader gets to see how Ian's brother and his husband Sheldon meet, the fallout of them getting caught on a sextape, Sheldon's sister Francine sacrificing herself and consequently a relationship with a boy she thought was the one, and "The One" emerging as the very tainted guardian angel I mentioned earlier. All this is interwoven with current conflicts, current relationship issues, and the mission setup. The ending is exciting and climatic as everything simultaneously goes wrong and goes according to plans, whether it be A,B,C, or Z.
If you're still with me and wondering why I haven't really discussed our main couple Ian and Phoebe, it's because they definitely get lost in the mix. Ian is mostly front and center as the characters and story circle around him but his relationship with Phoebe is not. There is good friction and sexual tension between them but when they ultimately get together and declare their love it feels rushed; the reader hasn't spent enough time with them to buy in to it. Phoebe has some great lines but her character isn't strong enough to hold up to the overall story, honestly Francine steals the show from her a little bit. The suspense arc is exciting, their romance, not as much.
The pace is quick moving, with only one or two lulls as this succumbs to first book in a series syndrome. The characters are given enough meaning and background to intrigue you and keep watch for their future books. If you're going in looking for strictly straight romance, you'll probably be disappointed as I would categorize this as Suspense first and then romance. If you are a fan of movies or tv shows like "24" then this is a must read for you, Brockmann's writing is incredibly strong.