Friday, 26 May 2017

Counterblow (Shatterproof Bond #4) by Isobel Starling

Length: 169 pages
Buy links: Amazon US | Amazon UK



After the devastating events in the Scottish Highlands, Sam and Declan have moved on to a new, deeper level in their romance. Their commitment to each other is unquestionable; however, there are plenty of questions that need answering about other aspects of their lives, and those who sought to end them.

Sam is trying his best to deal with the day to day frustrations of his injuries. He’s completely dependent on Declan for everything and hates the way the scales have tipped in their relationship. Although he’s officially on leave, Sam’s mind cannot stop replaying all that happened to him and questioning why, and who is behind it all.

Declan’s relief at having Sam home throws him into house-husband mode. He’s happy to take the reins and care for his partner, however, beneath the surface Declan cannot help but be drawn back to how he felt in the Highlands, and how they were betrayed by a man who was supposed to have their back. Declan had promised Sir James Aiken that he would pay if he hurt Sam, and now Declan has to decide how he can deliver his payback and put his and Sam’s world back on an even keel. 


Oh my. Poor Sam really went through hell in the Scottish Highlands (Return to Zero) and, unfortunately, the situation didn’t instantly improve upon coming home. Far from it. Poor Sam finds himself immobilised with both a leg and an arm busted up. Declan takes care of the man he loves as best he can but even he can’t stop the nightmares from plaguing Sam night after night. Declan is however inventive enough to ensure that intimacy and sex don’t fall victim to Sam’s injuries and boy does his imagination lead to hot scenes.

Even when Sam recovers enough to get most of his mobility and independence back, the events in Scotland still haunt both men, and each of them is looking for ways to deal with what happened to them. Declan is determined to get his revenge on Sam’s father, and Sam just wants to find out exactly what happened and, more importantly how it could have happened.

None of this would have been a huge issue, if only the two men would have talked to each other. But, determined not to burden the other and more than used to living with secrets, both Sam and Declan make plans of their own, leading to fear and a sense of betrayal on both sides, not to mention unexpected consequences.

Because of course Sir James Aiken, as always, has an ace up his sleeve; an ace which requires Sam to face his demons head-on, and forcing him to call on courage he didn’t know he possessed.

Just like the previous books in this series, Counterblow gave me an exhilarating, thrilling, sexy, laugh out loud funny, and intriguing story. The interactions between Declan and Sam never fail to make me either smile or get all hot and bothered, while Declan’s confrontation with Sir James was as tense as it was satisfying. In short, I couldn’t put the book down once I’d started reading and was disappointed when the story, inevitably, had to end. I’m already yearning for the next instalment. But, to help me deal with my separation anxiety, the author very generously provided a short story featuring a much younger (and pre-Declan) Sam.

Top Hat – A Shatterproof Bond/Sam Aiken prequel short story:

What a delightful glimpse of Sam as a teenager whose hormones all burst to life when he first sets eyes on Alexander Deveraux, the lecturer replacing Sam’s regular tutor during his final year at Oxford. For Sam, the attraction is instant and it isn’t long before he realizes the feeling might well be mutual.

Teenage Sam is adorable, clumsy, insecure and…did I mention adorable? But the first traces of flirty and sexy Sam are all too obvious in this 16 ½ year old version. Poor Alex didn’t stand a chance. He may have thought he wanted to be responsible and sensible, faced with a turned on and determined Sam and an impressive pole dance routine, Alex didn’t have a choice other than to give in to the sizzling attraction between them.

If there’s anything wrong with this short story it is that it ended too soon for my liking. But then again, maybe Sam takes after his creator when it comes to teasing.

And just in case you are new to this series, here are my reviews of the earlier Shatterproof Bond books:

About the Author

Born in Germany, Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

The 'Shatterproof Bond' series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller. Isobel has just completed her eleventh book and signed French and German and Italian, translation and publishing rights deals for the whole Shatterproof Bond series. The 'As You Wish' translation “Comme Vous Voudrez” is a best seller on Amazon France. It was released in German in March 2017, and as an audiobook in May 2017. 

Isobel's greatest love is writing M/M relationships, and she hopes one day to actually finish the fantasy novel that she put ‘to rest’ three years ago. 

                                                Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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