Lost and Found (Book 1)
As the series name implies, a twist of fate (and/or sheer coincidence) brings Xander and Bennett together after 15 years. The circumstances around their parting were traumatic for both, so their reunion is significantly less “meet cute” and much more “It’s a good thing Xander probably knows the best place to hide a body up in these mountains.” The sparks that fly between both men, despite the audience of Bennett’s best friend and a troupe of teenagers, are mostly negative, except when they do come together in explosive fury (pun totally intended).
I would not have put up with the length of their animosity had the authors not balanced it with frequent visits to the past to show the origins of their friendship. Even back then, the men are so different as not to make much sense, but that’s never stopped love. The slow reveal of their origin story pulled me along in the novel until I desperately wanted the grown-up versions to sit down, have an actual conversation, and clear the air. Both blamed each other for the tragedy of their parting when external forces were entirely to blame.
Unfortunately, even coming together doesn’t solve the external conflict, and I’m not even referring to how they live and work on opposite sides of the country. Their willingness to sacrifice shows the real strength of their love, just as they were willing to sacrifice for friendship’s sake in the past. As in real life, the relationship and its tangles are messy and complicated—this reality does not stand in the way of a particularly swoon-worthy gesture toward the end of the story. Nor does the gesture solve all their problems, but it shows them the future is open to plenty of possibility for their happily ever after.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed previous books by these individual authors, so I’m not surprised by how much I enjoyed a story by Lennox and Kennedy working in tandem. I look forward to continuing this series and following the secondary characters in their own love stories.
Safe and Sound (Book 2)
On the surface, this book is about two people who make a connection with each other, date, fall in love, and live happily ever after. However, that doesn’t make for an exciting read, so luckily, Lennox and Kennedy take the reader on a wild ride instead of the well-worn path. It’s not often that authors manage to completely surprise me, so I’m delighted when it happens. The twist in this book connecting Aiden and Ash was both shocking and poignant. One of those “oh, that makes total sense” when looking back at the clues, but I yelled aloud at the final reveal. (Any book where I manage to scare the cats is pretty good.)
This book delves into some pretty dark issues, such as domestic violence, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and death in a family. (This is a book to read the trigger warnings for if you even suspect you might not be able to read it safely.) As usual, I appreciate that the main characters falling in love isn’t a “cure” for these issues; instead, they draw strength from each other to confront them head-on and begin the healing process. The authors connect the characters’ issues to enhance the book’s dark moment, using a message that only made sense to the two men in a situation where communication is difficult, which got me right in the feels.
This isn’t a romance geared specifically toward nerdy readers, but the authors work in plenty of references and jokes that will be hilarious to those with more than a passing familiarity with Star Trek. Also, it overlaps nicely with the previous book in the series so that we are reunited with familiar characters, giving Aidan an excellent support system when he needs it.
Body and Soul (Book 3)
Lennox and Kennedy drop some intriguing clues about Jake’s character in the first book in this series, so I was excited to get to know him here. They do an excellent job of revealing information appropriately to advance the plot without ever making me feel like Jake is an unreliable narrator. He and Oz have a rocky start, but the chemistry between them is obvious. Jake tries to stay away from the temptation to open himself up to another person, but he finally gives in to his attraction in the midst of the most hilarious dinner party I’ve ever read.
Oz is also a fun character with his share of baggage, trying to lean into changing his career trajectory so that he’s more than just a pretty face. It would have been nice if his and Jake’s snowbound interlude lasted forever, because neither man holds back once they come together.
However, real life has to come back eventually. Rather than the external conflict relating to only one of our heroes, the dark moment ends up affecting both men. Jake’s past finally catches up with him, and he has to play the hero to keep Oz safe instead of leaving the man he loves behind forever. Luckily, he’s stayed in one place long enough to make actual friends. The grand finale is clever and action-packed, a fun contrast to the sweetness of story’s middle.
I love a happily ever after that is well-deserved by the characters, and that appears to be a trend in this excellent series. While I’m sad that the next book in this series seems to be the last, I still have plenty of books to read by these authors that I can’t wait to experience.
Above and Beyond (Book 4)
In this book, Lucky and Zach are both train-wrecks. Zach’s issues are more pronounced due to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the residual effects from his traumatic brain injury, both of which were involved in him leaving military service. Suddenly finding your place in civilian life is not easy for most veterans, especially for those dealing with medical issues not well-recognized by the military, much less the general public. However, Lucky has mental hang-ups due to his own history and recent developments with his adopted family.
Together, they fight crime!
That’s a lie. Together, the two men commit their lives to alpine search and rescue, not that Zach is thrilled to find Lucky enrolled in the training program he helps teach. Keeping secrets from their direct families while also fighting an intense attraction for each other puts both men through the wringer. Zach tries to reduce said attraction by allowing a physical relationship between them, but neither man is good at pretending to do the friends-with-benefits thing. It’s all very angsty and heart-wrenching, and I wanted to talk some sense into them. Instead, Zach tries to use the eventual danger in which they find themselves due to their chosen professions to drive Lucky away. Spoiler alert: Lucky may be younger than Zach, but he’s not an idiot. The sparks between them come to a head during this book’s heart-pounding climax, and I was thrilled by the ending.
This excellent series brings together two authors I’ve recently fallen in love with. Each book is different in terms of characters and theme, but they are all satisfying romances that I thoroughly enjoyed. I look forward to continuing to work my way through the extensive back catalogs of both of these talented writers.