Gabriel’s Rule (Book 1)
I haven’t looked at the original publication date to be sure, but I feel that this book is one of the first by this prolific author. The story itself, including the plot and characters, are entertaining. However, the writing style itself includes an inexperienced author’s hallmarks, such as mid-scene point-of-view (POV) switches. On the romance side, Gabe and Riley experience insta-love that doesn’t necessarily ring true. Their chemistry is off the charts, but Gabe comes off as creepy and over-controlling at times, which Riley puts up with despite her past experiences.
All that being said, I’m glad that I didn’t immediately ditch it despite the above-mentioned POV issues. Gabe is a fascinating character—I was immediately sucked into learning how he came to this point and the reasons behind his intimacy issues (of which there are many). It’s not pretty, and readers should consider reading the trigger warnings, even though they include spoilers. Kennedy could have left things at “Gabe is fixed because a woman loves him.” However, I appreciate that the book’s resolution includes the character using healthy methods to help heal invisible wounds.
On Riley’s side, she’s also been through hell only to end up neighbors with a hot guy who gets super overprotective despite them hardly knowing each other. They bond over things like Gabe demanding she quit her seedy job (and then finding her a better one) and helping restore her trashed apartment (that he was the inadvertent cause of). It’s hardly a match made in heaven, but I can’t fault how Gabe comes to her defense when Riley’s past returns to haunt her.
The story ends with a “happily for now” I can’t complain about. Despite my issues with their relationship, I do find myself hoping it turns into a “happily ever after.” I look forward to continuing this trilogy and finding out how these characters fit into Kennedy’s larger world, which includes multiple series.
Shane’s Fall (Book 2)
The complaints I had about the previous book in this series have absolutely no relevance here. The writing is excellent, the characters are well-developed, and the plot and subplots expand to include all the major players in this series. Gabe and Riley are back in lovely supporting roles as Shane and Savannah deal with their various demons. And both heroes have more than their share of demons.
As the story began to play out, I thought it would irritate me. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Shane is doing what is in his limited power to help Savannah recover from the trauma that occurs before the book starts. Though sex is involved, it’s not as simple as “magical healing cock.” I appreciate that Shane also pushes Savannah into other healing methods, such as seeing a therapist and taking self-defense lessons.
Shane is also not without his wounds, and Kennedy reveals the tragic moments of his past and how they affect his future in snippets that broke my heart more than they teased. Even Shane’s parents are not left as the unfeeling monsters they first appear, and we also get closure on Gabe’s mother that directly impacts the plot of this current book.
These three friends have been through so much in their relatively young lives, so it’s lovely to watch their happily ever afters come into grasp. The escort work they do is never meant to titillate the reader but is instead used as a thematic element that gives more depth to the characters. This book lays the framework for the final book in this trilogy and the next connected series, and I can’t wait to read more in this intricate, sexy universe.
Logan’s Need (Book 3)
The final book in this excellent trilogy wraps up the over-arching storyline while also introducing readers to the world of another series by the same author. I have become thoroughly addicted to this expansive shared world. It’s difficult not to tear through all the books instead of keeping my reading at the rate of my ability to review the individual installments.
Here, the love story element is appropriately tragic for the circumstances, leaving me aching for both Logan and Dominic. The external conflict elements that started building in the previous book would exist even without the romantic relationship; however, I’m so glad that Logan and his friends have Dom in their corner. Multiple elements to this story are on the fairly dark side, but I would hesitate to call this a “dark romance,” the same way numerous factors are also tragic, but this is not a tragedy. Instead, it’s an incredibly bumpy road to happily ever after, but a journey I’m pleased to have taken with these characters.
Neither of the two times the men meet each other (the second time when Logan is conscious) can be considered “meet-cutes,” but the connection is striking both times. The spark Logan feels for Dom verges on the “gay for you” trope, but the chemistry between the two men is so evident that I’m willing to give it a pass this time. Sylvie’s meddling from beyond the grave comes off as poignant rather than trite, and I love that Dom’s feelings for her are never a choice against his feelings for Logan.
This book wraps up the happily ever afters for Gabe, Shane, and Logan, three regular guys going up against difficult but real-world problems. I hope I get a sneak peek back at this lovely found family in Kennedy’s other series going forward.