Author: Isobel Starling
Length: 209 Pages (Kindle)
At a Glance: There is something so charismatic, so delightful about these two, that one cannot help but want to read more about them.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: The thrilling sequel to “As You Wish” and “Illuminate the Shadows”.
Pulled into a world of secrets and lies for the man he loves, Declan Ramsay’s life has changed immeasurably in the eight months since meeting, and falling for his boss’s son, Sam Aiken. Declan journey of personal discovery is about to take a darker turn, and for Sam, the world becomes more treacherous than he could ever have imagined.
Two agents are missing — presumed dead, while on a reconnaissance mission at an outdoor adventure centre in the Scottish Highlands. Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover the fate of the agents.
As the mission offers his first chance to use the skills he learned on the MI6 training course in Morocco, Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that the seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple, as they begin their mission.
The journey to their Highland location, and the discoveries they make when they reach the G’wan Adventures centre, prove that Sir James Aiken has been less than honest with his son. Events in the Highlands force Sam and Declan to face their greatest fears, and understand what they both really want from life — and from each other.
Review: Return To Zero pits Sam against his worst nightmare. An abusive double agent, long thought dead at Sam’s hand, has returned to get his revenge. Little do Sam or Declan understand just how thoughtless and ruthless Sir James can be–until they realize that Sam is to be used as bait to track down the rogue agent. To make matters worse, much as Sam predicted, Declan’s memories of his interrogation at the hands of Sir James have come roaring back, and he makes the horrible assumption that Sam knew all about his father’s preoccupation with and stalking of Declan, for what appeared to be years. Feeling betrayed by both father and son, Declan embraces their mission with a vengeance and is horrified when it turns deadly. Now, it may be too late to fully mend the rift between them as Sam’s life literally hangs in the balance.
Return to Zero is the most action packed of the series thus far—many moments left me breathless and wondering just how the author was going to manage to get her duo safely through yet another twist that meant mortal danger for one or both of them. I am fairly sure that Sir James ranks up there pretty high with the most evil fathers in history—the ruthless and uncaring way he treats Sam makes my stomach hurt. Honestly, this series could continue on by merely hinging the next novel on the threat of “removing” Declan from Sam’s life, or vice versa, as a means to blackmail these poor guys into doing just about anything. The psychological games that Sir James so deftly uses to manipulate the feelings of both guys is enough to turn your stomach, they are that ruthless.
While I loved the plotline and the heightened sense of urgency in the latter part of the novel, I was not as thrilled by the way in which Sam refuses to lean on Declan or confide in him. That reluctance led to their initial conflict in this book, and it felt just a bit contrived. Honestly, by now I would think these two would have discussed their roles in the agency, and used those confidences to show a united front to Sam’s father. These are smart men and this lack of confidence in each other, after all they have gone through in the last eight months, seems to be wearing a little thin as an anchor for every conflict they have.
However, there is something so charismatic, so delightful about these two, that one cannot help but want to read more about them. There must be endless material this author could still use as a means to allow us to remain a part of this fabulous duo’s life—at least this reviewer hopes so.
You can buy Return to Zero here: