- Read my reviews of the previous books in the Auctioned series.
What I expected with this book: Total fan service of Gray and Darius’ happily ever after, featuring bachelor party shenanigans, a ceremony and reception I’d cry my way through, and familiar, beloved characters showing up from other series. Had that been all this book entailed, I’d have been thrilled.
Except I forgot that Dee is still the creator of her amazing world, so I’m not sure why I was surprised when the story opened in the middle of Gray and Darius participating in a private military contractor (PMC) operation. Which, to be fair, also contained a decent amount of shenanigans and plenty of familiar, beloved faces.
The timing of the op probably could have been better, but Dee also works some unfortunate realities from our world into this story to move the wedding date closer to our own time. If this jump into the future also happens to drop some hints about developments we might look forward to with other characters, it only further cements Dee’s position of the master of epic crossovers being epic. Our heroes do get some quiet time with their family once they are back home, which provides both a quiet beat before the wedding lead-up and an emotional gut punch for the reader. The scene is a lovely moment of remembering where everything in this series started, but from a safe place, and also gives us a moment to acknowledge the journey of adopted son Jayden.
Then, it’s wedding time, which also kind of resembles a PMC op. I know this novella ended up much longer than Dee planned, but she still manages to hit all the highlights of the promised bachelor party events, and even include a few surprises not teased on social media, without getting lost in the minute-to-minute details. I appreciated that each chapter started with a brief glimpse into Darius’ point of view, but this book deserved to be primarily from Gray’s perspective as the conclusion to the journey he started in the first book. The heart of this story is the wedding, but the soul is in the conversation between Gray and his best friend (and Best Man) Abel in the moments before the ceremony. It’s the perfect finale to the joked-about but unspoken theme of the age gap between Darius and Gray, in that this is Darius’ happily ever after, but also the hard-earned beginning of Gray’s brand new life.
Because I know how I am, I managed to hold back the tears through the actual ceremony and reception moments. The moment that almost got me was Gray not just becoming Darius’ husband but also becoming a Quinn. I have thoughts about name changes as they related to marriage, but even I have to acknowledge that Gray absolutely deserves to be a Quinn. The epilogue is where the waterworks started because even though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to re-read this series from the very beginning (I jumped straight to book 2), I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to say goodbye to these amazing characters. Luckily, Dee’s crossover habit means I probably don’t have to.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.