Against the Grain (THIRDS book 5) by Charlie Cochet

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AgainstTheGrainBlurb

As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.

Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.

(Thank you to Karrie Jax for this beautiful fan art!)

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Review

Taking a slightly different turn, this book is about Ash and Cael (yay!) centrally and Dex and Sloane only peripherally. We get to learn a lot more of the back story about Ash and why he acts like he does as well as some of Cael’s (sad) romantic history.
Though the two have already admitted they love one another, Ash continues to balk at the intimacy he so clearly craves. Poor (sappy) Cael puts up with it over and over because he just loves Ash so much.

There is a little drama with Austen and the team’s boss and some strange Therian drug making the rounds and somehow Shultzon is involved (of course!).

Most of this was fairly low angst and low drama, relationship building and watching Ash work through his personal demons.

**

I love this series and find it hilarious! Charlie has a gift of creating this alternate world you totally want to live in and then giving us fully formed three dimensional characters with flaws and eccentricities who are lovable at the same time you want to strangle them!

I don’t think this was the strongest book in the series – possibly because both Ash and Cael made me crazy. I never quite understood Ash’s motivation for avoiding intimacy. He seemed to flip flop from admitting his interest in men from an early age – then having that bad experience – then finding Cael – so the “gay” part shouldn’t have been the issue – but allowing himself to act on it should have been. But he seemed relatively fine acting on it in private just not public and since when does Ash care what the public thinks of him? I didn’t get it… I might have missed a nuance, but it bugged me that I couldn’t figure it out.

Cael – who I love – I definitely wanted to strangle and then tell him to get a back bone. I would have at least shoved Ash out the door once if not a hundred times until he could prove that he wasn’t a dick! But Cael just kept accepting it and it made me frustrated!

I loved the back stories – especially the baby stories! I also can’t wait until we get to see more about Calvin and Hobbs’ love affair – Woot!

The other great part of this book was seeing the fully developed relationship between Sloane and Dex. It’s so NICE to see them happy for a change.

Overall I still loved this book very, very much and was psyched to read it but I didn’t love Cael and Ash as much as I love Dex and Sloane.

4.5 of 5 hearts

4.5

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