Title: Counterblow (Shatterproof Bond: Book Four)
Author: Isobel Starling
Length: 169 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: This was a non-stop action filled story just as the others have been. But this time we really got a sense of how deeply Declan loves Sam, and how far he will go to make sure Sam is safe.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: 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 dependant 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.
Warning: May contain minor spoilers from book three, Return to Zero
Review: I must admit to loving this couple and their ongoing saga. I absolutely hate Sam’s father and that is all due to Isobel Starling’s impeccable writing—she can certainly write a bad guy worth their salt, and a parent who is more evil than anything else. But it’s the undeniable chemistry between Declan and Sam that just continues to grow deeper and sweeter as this series goes on that is the real winner for me. While this latest was a wee bit short, and I felt ended rather abruptly, it did not take away from the fact that it was a segue not only to highlight whether or not Sam would ever be able to come back from the horrific nightmare that was the third book in the Shatterproof Bond series, but also if he could mentally face what Eric had done to him and survive it—take control over it. If any of the last sentence was confusing, please stop now and read the third book, Return to Zero, or this review of Counterblow, book number four, is going to contain some spoilers for you.
Picking up after Sam has been put back together, complete with pins and such holding his ankle together, and his arm being placed back in it’s socket, the pain he endures is not only physical. Nightmares plague him daily, and Declan is doing everything he can to not only heal his husband-to-be physically but mentally as well. But recovery is slow and Declan uses that time to hone his body in order to deliver the much needed payback that James so richly deserves after using his son as bait to pull in a lethal assassin who has been gunning for him. However, what neither Declan or Sam counted on was the fact that Sam would have to confront the man who had so ruthlessly tortured and nearly tried to kill him.
This was a non-stop action filled story just as the others have been. But this time we really got a sense of how deeply Declan loves Sam, and how far he will go to make sure Sam is safe. I love the interactions between these two men—they are both lighthearted and deeply emotional, their connection feels so very genuine, and that makes their romance so very lovely to read. Initially I was a bit miffed that their wedding takes place off page, but the author more than makes up for that in allowing us to hear their vows—I won’t say more about that so as to not give it away, but suffice it to say it was gorgeously written.
Also, the plot really thickens with this book in that we get yet another glimpse at the fact that while James may have enough dirt on his enemies to ensure his safety, for now there is a real noose hanging over his head and his enemies will stop at nothing to end his life. All in all this was more a transitional novel leading us to the next assignment for our heroes, and focusing on healing for Sam and revenge for Declan. It was fun to read but not nearly as hair-raising and fraught with tension as the others have been. One final note here: The most satisfying moment in this book was when Declan finally hands James his ass. Trust me, fans of the series will want to read that!
You can buy Counterblow here: