Read my reviews of the previous books in The Game series:
This book can probably be read as a stand-alone, but I believe it works best as a direct follow-up to the previous book in this series, The Shepherd. Corey is integral to a subplot in that book and having the full background of the dynamic developing between Greer, Archie, and Sloan only enhances how Corey begins to fit in with them in this installment of this amazing series.
This novel is told from a single point of view as Corey experiences a few life-changing weeks on multiple levels. It’s clear from the beginning that his so-called relationship is fast approaching its expiration (this is a book where I’d advise readers to take the content warning for toxic/abusive relationships seriously). If I was irritated at the stunts Marcus pulled in The Shepherd, experiencing him first-hand in chapter 1 here stirred my rage on Corey’s behalf right away. Corey’s second interaction with him only stoked the flames, which is ironic—because then Dee tortures her readers by having us experience the McLean House fire yet again.
Greer might still be oblivious, but it’s clear to pretty much everyone else (especially readers) that he is already attached to Corey. The fire might be dramatic, but the true inciting incident in this book is when Greer and his partners take Corey home that very night. Corey starts to shine once he’s finally around people and in a situation where he can flourish, and where I fell in love with this adorable character. He might even beat out Noa for sass, and that’s saying something. For the first portion of his visit, Greer and Sloan are very much in “care and protect” mode, wanting Corey to recover from his previous relationship before he embarks on anything new (despite how attracted they are to him). Honestly, one day Greer will stop being perfect and today is not that day (I’m sure Archie will say it will never be possible). Eventually, the first move toward including Corey as the missing link in their dynamic comes from a completely unexpected corner, which makes it all the more perfect. As for the rest of how the relationships in this book develop, I officially declare the subtitle of this book to be “Greer is gonna Greer.”
The bulk of this story focuses on Corey’s recovery, but he is not the only member of Mclean House (House Mclean?) who needs healing. I loved how so many familiar characters worked together right away to take care of each other and do their best to protect what makes their community special, whether the location or the people. I especially appreciated that we get glimpses of how the fire affects Shay, based on what we know about him from Breathless, and how Reese and River use their particular sets of skills to help him process and heal from events as well.
Once again, Dee features two aspects of her writing that I particularly enjoy in this book. As if all the amazing characters in this series showing up all over the place wasn’t enough, she also includes some familiar faces from her other works. This is so exciting that it’s almost easy to miss a brief exchange that implies the fire might not entirely be a metaphor for Corey’s journey. I look forward to how this plot thread weaves through future stories, which I’m already excited about despite the lack of blatant cliffhanger at the end of this book. (Instead, Dee almost makes up for torturing us for the last two books by including an epilogue that ensures a happily ever after for Corey, Greer, and their partners.)
Disclaimer: I received an electronic review copy of this book from the author.