I had this crazy idea when this series was announced that all the action would happen concurrently in each book, meaning we’d get full closure for both the external and relationship arcs, with the final installment being an extended wrap-up. I know, I know, totally wishful thinking on my part because Dee is too good at setting up layers to her characters and action throughout multiple installments to switch tactics now. It’s clear from the explosive start, from which not all familiar faces escape unscathed, that we’re in for a ride that will hurt in the short term but be more than worth it by the end of this inter-connected series. Honestly, we should be thankful that we only have to wait weeks between installments instead of months.
Even though this series stands alone, loyal readers get a lovely family reunion vibe at the very beginning. Elliot being a brand-new character doesn’t impact that, because anyone who is a friend of the Grays and Tenleys is a friend of mine, and I was immediately hooked on his goals of reinventing himself. As someone approaching *mumble* years myself, I find it refreshing when older heroes acknowledge their age (and accompanying experience) but don’t act like they’re at the end of their lives once they’re in their mid-forties.
This book is entirely from Elliot’s point of view, but even before the external plot kicked off, his visceral reaction to Joel prompts instant curiosity about their shared history. Dee uses flashbacks to excellent effect throughout the book to fill in their early history, but she is also wonderful at dropping offhand details in the current-day narrative that also carry so much unspoken weight. I might already have my predictions about where one of the major disconnects between Elliot and Joel occurs, but that did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of their constant clashes while forced to work together to aid their friends and family.
Even if we get more progress on the external plot, which had some movement both on and off the page in this story, we definitely won’t get the full closure between these two men until book 4. As the back cover description says, this story definitely ends on a cliffhanger. What it doesn’t mention is that it is multiple levels of cliffhanger, made all the more poignant by how close Elliot and Joel do come to peace (or at least a solid truce) amidst the chaos here. I’m particularly torn by how excited I am for stories featuring Tenleys and a new Finley before I get the resolution I so desperately want for these two.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.