Hi there! I’m working my way back into “theme weeks” which are collections of books that (mostly) center on a given theme. This week many of the books I’ll share are ones that were published a year ago, or more, and have been languishing on my TBR pile too long. Today, I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M romance from author Keira Andrews. VALOR ON THE MOVE is an older-younger odd-couple story about the president’s son who falls hard for his new bodyguard. I sequel is releasing soon, and I couldn’t hold out any longer on this one! I have loved other novels by Ms. Andrew’s including KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE as well as more contemporary (A FORBIDDEN RUMSPRINGA) and even paranormal (KICK AT THE DARKNESS) titles.
About the book:
He’d give his life to protect the president’s son. But he never expected to risk his heart.
Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.
It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.
Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.
But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?
This gay romance from Keira Andrews is the first part of the Valor duology and features a May-December age difference, Jane Austen levels of pining, forbidden love against the odds, and of course a happy ending.
Secret Service Agent Shane Kendrick has dedicated his life to the service. He’s been a model agent, and his hard work has finally paid off when he’s assigned as a primary bodyguard for Rafael “Rafa” Castillo, Codename “Valor”, the youngest son of President Castillo. Shane’s made the big time, alright, and he’s glad Valor is the shy retiring one of the family because his partner on the detail, Alan, is having a family crisis and with the election looming the service is stretched so thin that Shane’s sometime on his own with Rafa.
Rafa is a twenty-one year old closeted gay man. His best friend, Ashleigh, is also closeted and they serve as beards for each other in public. They both plan to come out in January, when they graduate college together and Rafa’s father’s done with his second term in the White House. It’s been uncomfortable growing up in the harsh spectacle that is his family, especially as he’s so much younger than his three older siblings. They moved on years ago, and Rafa has felt disconnected for a long time, especially since his father, a Republican to the core, supported measures to outlaw same-sex marriage. After that debacle, Rafa knew he’d keep his head down and has made some grand plans to move to Australia and study at the Cordon Bleu school in Sydney–where he could also learn to surf and live his life openly without being near his likely unsupportive family.
Naturally, growing up with buff, suited, strong bodyguards for the past 8 years has had an impact on Rafa. He’s definitely attracted to the “type” and not really wild about silly young college men. Meeting Agent Kendrick tilts Rafa’s axis something fierce, and he finds ways to show little glimmers of his personality by cooking unique treats for Shane that allow them some quiet time together. It skips to level 11 when Shane confides that he’s gay. Yep, Rafa knows he’s doing wrong, falling for his security, but he’s never stepped a toe out of line before, and Shane is a compassionate man. Their alone-ish time becomes fraught with mutual attraction that Shane is quick to shut down, despite his own feelings. Shane hasn’t sacrificed so much of his life to let poor judgment end this detail–or worse, take advantage of young, inexperienced Rafa.
Then their whole life goes belly up. Rafa has a severe falling out with his family, and runs. Shane and Alan keep watch over him, but terrorists follow, and it’s a life-and-death struggle to survive once the guns start firing. Finding temporary safety and shelter leads to finding physical solace and satisfaction, but the night isn’t over and they aren’t out of the woods yet. And, how did the terrorists find them on this pop-up adventure, anyway? Shane has some hard truths to face regarding his fellow members of the Secret Service, and he also can’t deny that the lines he and Rafa crossed require immediate action.
This story was rich and filled with fantastic research elements regarding procedures for security details, and White House operations. Without question I thought I was on a private tour of our president’s life–and that was awesome. The attraction between Shane and Rafa was handled tenderly, with a sexy bit of daddy-kink for Rafa that felt genuine. I really struggled, as did they, with the situation, knowing that it was going to go poorly–at least for a bit. The intrigue and scrutiny Shane was under, following the attack, was believable, and honest. Even the “bad guys” had heart, and real struggles that were understandable, if unforgivable. There’s not a lot of sexytimes here, because Shane’s an upstanding agent who won’t break his oaths lightly. Rafa’s a determined young man, however, and he finally gets his way–appropriately–in the end. Their adventure seems to end, but a new book is on the horizon and both are HEAs.
About the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”