Author: HelenKay Dimon
As a trained assassin, Kyle Cabe thought he knew a thing or two about betrayal. But, getting shot and left for dead by the man he should have been able to trust more than anyone else took that awareness to an entirely different level. Now, Cabe’s ready to forget the past and start over, or so he tells himself—as soon as he finishes this one last job. Too bad his heart isn’t so easily convinced.
Brax Hughes had always known that his plan to save Cabe during his last assignment would cost him dearly, but he’d never given up on trying to win him back. After all, it had been for Cabe’s own good, right? But, lies are still lies, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, and sometimes telling the truth just isn’t enough to undo the damage.
From the beginning, this story wasn’t at all what I expected. Though I was able to finish it in a single day, Stranded had a lot of twists and turns, which made it a real pleasure to read. With a cast of characters composed entirely of highly skilled, often duplicitous assassins, it certainly isn’t your average romance.
Of the two main characters, Cabe won me over almost instantly. Wounded inside and out, he’s got a lot of threads to untangle, and even more bad memories to contend with. And that’s before he’s faced with an entirely different version of the reality he’s been living with for nearly a year. Hot-tempered, but extremely adept, Cabe’s loneliness is an undeniable presence throughout the narrative, and I couldn’t help wanting him to be happy. While he does technically owe his life to the apparent treachery of his former lover, I felt that his anger was well justified.
Alternatively, I found Brax to be as frustrating as he is lovable, which is actually quite a bit. As the architect of the event that still haunts them both, he’s got all the answers, and the control, making every desperation-induced misstep he takes all the more painful. I thought Brax’s perspective on his faith and profession was an especially interesting facet of his character, and liked him even more for it. Although I did find his conviction in the rightness of his actions, as well as his unwavering love for Cabe, endearing, I could also understand Cabe’s recurring desire to punch him.
Regardless of the events that brought them to this point, there is no denying the heat between these two characters. From the moment they see each other, the physical nature of their previous relationship is a permanent fixture, an element of the narrative that might have seemed disingenuous if their inability to keep their hands off each other hadn’t been so fitting. What really made these scenes work, though, is the indisputable, and very tangible, affection that exists between them.
Part of the Love for the Holidays bundle benefiting the GLBT National Help Center, Stranded is a fairly short, unexpectedly intricate story that was a lot of fun to read. Cabe and Brax are very complicated men, in all the best ways, and prove that being assassins doesn’t preclude the need to love and be loved. With a generous portion of the proceeds going to a very good cause, I think this story would be an excellent addition to anyone’s holiday reading list.
Cabe got out of the gun-for-hire business the hard way—by nearly dying. Except then his former boss calls in one last favor for one final job. The mission should be simple: get a message to a retired operative in Alaska. But it puts Cabe face-to-face with the one man he doesn’t want to see and can never forget. Not after all the secrets and lies. Not after Brax almost killed him.
Brax Hughes lived hard and retired young to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Well, that was the plan, but before he can hang up his sniper rifle, he has one last mission: win back Kyle Cabe. Brax wants another chance, wants to come clean, but after months of lying to Cabe, he knows he could face a bullet—or worse—when they meet again. And they will meet. Brax made sure of that.
With a storm moving in and someone lurking outside the cabin, time is running out. Brax needs to talk fast and keep his weapons ready. And his best weapon is the truth.
Release Date: November 23, 2015
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Series: Love for the Holidays Bundle
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ, m/m
Format(s): paperback (155 pages), e-book
Book Source: NetGalley
Love for the Holidays bundle