Goodreads link: Pride & Protection
What happens when an out-and-proud bear moves to a small Tennessee town, and takes a shine to the closeted cop?
Fireworks, that’s what.
When Del Walters agrees to go into business with his brother, he has one condition. Since he’s putting up the lion’s share, they’ll run the bike shop his way—and that means he gets to choose the name. And in a small Tennessee town, a business called Rainbow Racers, complete with a not-so-subtle sign, was always going to attract attention.
Unfortunately, it’s the wrong kind of attention, and after a few incidents, Del is forced to call on the local police to deal with the culprits.
When Officer Taylor Cox walks into his shop, Del thinks Christmas has come early. An earlier encounter with the younger man left Del with a growing desire to know more about him. There’s only one problem—Taylor is in the closet, and there’s no way Del is going back into his.
When Taylor lays eyes on the sexy bear who owns the bike shop, he knows he’s walking into trouble. Not that he’s about to let Del know he’s interested: his view from the closet is just fine, thank you very much, and besides, that ship has already sailed, thanks to their first meeting. Now all he wants to do is forget Del even exists. But as time goes by, Taylor realizes how badly he is torn between protecting the persona he’s created, and giving in to his desires. And Del making it obvious that he wants Taylor isn’t helping matters.
Between an out-and-proud bear and a firmly closeted cop, something has to give. Problem is, it might be their hearts.
If you’ve read Truth & Betrayal (and if you haven’t, you really should) you’ll remember Taylor Cox as the police officer who tries to look out for young Jake when he’s facing a personal nightmare as well as a difficult journey.
Now it is Taylor’s turn to find love in the not all too tolerant town of LaFolette, Tennessee. But, while being gay and out in this little town is difficult for anybody, it becomes nigh on impossible if you happen to be a cop and well aware that at least a few of your colleagues are out and proud homophobes.
Enter Del. He’s only moved to LaFolette to help his brother set up a bike shop. He has no intention of staying for long, after all, he’s used to living in an environment where few bat an eyelid at him being gay and he has no intention of returning to the closet any time soon.
When the two men meet the attraction is instant, but although the obstacles appear insurmountable their hearts refuse to be governed by their heads and it isn’t long before neither man can imagine being without the other. But, any happy ever after depends on Taylor showing his community who he truly is.
This was a wonderful, touching, at times laugh-out-loud funny romance. In fact, it is nowhere near as angsty or emotional as Truth and Betrayal was. Or rather, it is emotional and touching in completely different ways but no less wonderful or memorable.
I loved the two different Taylors we meet in this story. The difference between Taylor in LaFolette and the same man when he visits Atlanta with Del is as astounding as it is stunning. Taylor may be engaging in a lot of first experiences, he doesn’t waste time learning all Del has to show him and making it his own, much to Del’s delight and satisfaction.
I guess what I loved most about this story is that while the undercurrent of threats and homophobia are never far away, it shows in beautiful detail how things are often nowhere near as bad as we fear, that support can be found in surprising places, and that following your heart can bring you all you desire, even when you think that’s impossible.
Pride and Protection captivated me. I fell in love with Del the moment he was introduced and with Taylor shortly afterward. I was rooting for them to overcome the obstacles they faced and couldn’t stop turning the pages as a result. The fact that these two men are incredibly sexy together only served to make an already wonderful story even more addictive.
Long story short, I highly recommend Pride & Protection if you love a book featuring two memorable characters, a perfect balance between angst and happiness, satisfying and inspired sex scenes, and a story that will leave you happy and will stick in your mind for weeks to come.
Related review: Truth & Betrayal