Reviewed by Kat
TITLE: Return to Zero
SERIES: Shatterproof Bond #2
AUTHOR: Isobel Starling
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 209 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2016
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.
“Return to Zero” is the action-packed thriller/suspense/romance sequel in the Shatterproof Bonds series. And boy what a thriller this one was.
Back are our heroes/lovers, Sam and Declan. Declan is now fully trained and an active member of the A.L.L. Team. They are now ready to be assigned to their first mission together. A mission that both are prepared for but leery of, and rightfully so. Sir James, Sam’s father – a term I use with great reservations with this man, is sending them off to find out what happened to two of the team’s agents that are missing and presumed dead. But he had to go and throw a wrench into their relationship and shake the very foundation of their trust just before they leave. “Return to Zero” puts all of Sam’s years of experience and Declan’s advanced new training to the test. It is the true test of both their physical and mental abilities along with their personal relationship together.
As I have stated before, in each of the books in the series, I despise Sir James Aiken. He is a ruthless and despicable individual. His homophobic feeling towards his only son is beyond understanding. That he would hate his son’s sexual preference so much that he would put him in constant danger is deplorable. The term “father, dad or da” is way too generous for this man. I understand that he is the leader of an uber-secret spy organization-for-hire. I also understand that he is richer than Midas, super alpha-male macho and wanted his son to be a mirror-image of himself but that still does not forgive him for his actions. My only hope is that, before this series is finished, he sees the errors of his ways.
My biggest drawback with this book, and this is totally on me, is that I had some difficulty deciphering some of the Scottish “brogue”. I have never been around anyone who spoke like this before and, combined with the different terms used “across the pond” and the thick accent, I had some difficulty with what was being said at times. I was also completely lost during the whole technology discussion. For anyone who knows me, I am one of the very least tech-savvy people out there so I was at a complete loss. But that was okay since it didn’t seem to interfere with the over-all flow of the story for me. As for the sex??? Isobel Starling writes some of the steamiest scenes out there. These men never fail to intrigue and surprise me there with their creativity.
I am going to tell you straight up, “Return to Zero” is not the sweet, sexy read that “As You Wish” was. The Shatterproof Bonds series is much grittier, at times, and full of mystery and intrigue as you would expect in a spy series. I have grown quite fond of Declan and Sam. I just wish the author would cut Sam some slack and ease up on him. I don’t think his body or psyche can take much more. Poor Sam! I cannot wait for the next in the series and was overjoyed when I read at the end of the book that she was not done with my guys yet and there is more to come! Great intriguing series.