Wendy reviews Second Shot by Ali Atwood. Self published December 8, 2016, 71 pages.
Dillon McQueen has magic in his blood, but it’s untrained and hard to control. His spells don’t always hit the mark. He wishes there was someone he could turn to for guidance, but he was abandoned as an infant, and his heritage remains a mystery. Out in the everyday world, Dillon has a law degree from Harvard, but opted to work independently, on the investigative side of things.
Enter Nick Montana, former Army Ranger, still connected to Special Forces, presently working freelance. Six years ago, Dillon had a mad crush on the enigmatic Montana, but his feelings went unfulfilled, as Montana is straight. Now the ranger steps back into Dillon’s life to ask him to team-up and rescue a young boy who was kidnapped by human traffickers.
When the two men go undercover at a male strip club, to play the roles of gay men, Dillon inadvertently casts a spell that has interesting repercussions.
We were given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When a figure moved behind the little girl, the hair on the nape of Dillon’s neck stirred. He glanced up and froze in disbelief. It’s him. As much as Dillon had taken the dream that was Nick Montana to heart six years ago, he’d never expected to see him again. Unsure now if he should approach and say hi, or pretend he hadn’t seen him.
The decision was made when Montana flicked his gaze in Dillon’s direction, hesitated for a second, then made an abrupt turn and strode straight toward him.
Though Dillon had carried a dazzling image of Montana in his mind for six years, he’d almost convinced himself it was part of his credulous youth, and was not based on reality. In truth, none of his recollections came close to the present reality. Montana looked taller and more rugged than Dillon remembered and sexy as hell. Dillon thrust his hands into his pockets and did his best to look casual.
At six feet even, Dillon was shorter than Montana, and had to tilt his head to look at the older man, who flashed him a quick smile.
“Hi Dillon, I’m glad I caught you.”
Dillon’s befuddled brain wasn’t following. “Caught me?”
“Matt Ellis sent me. He tried to contact you, but your cell’s off.”
“Oh, yeah, charger’s on the blink.” He tried to focus. “Matt sent you?”
“He wants us to team up on a mission, if you don’t mind cutting your vacation short.”
Dillon stared. “Team up.” Even if he could only look, it was a gift from heaven.
Nick was watching him. “Is that going to be a problem?”
“What? Oh, no, no problem. I was about to check out anyway. Always happy to help Matt out—” He forced air into his lungs. “What kind of mission?”
“A rescue attempt, which we can we discuss over a cup of coffee? I’ve been traveling for twenty-two hours and I haven’t slept in thirty-eight.”
They chose the restaurant on the hotel’s mezzanine floor. It was large and pleasantly decorated in shades of blue. Most of the tables were occupied by holiday makers, enjoying a light meal after a lazy day at the beach. Dillon and Montana sat down at a four-top, facing each other.
Since it was impossible to tell from Montana’s expression what was going on in his head, Dillon used his psychic power to try and get a fix on his thoughts. It had failed him in the past, and frustratingly, it still did, which meant he still had no idea if Montana knew he was gay. Dillon suspected he didn’t, or he wouldn’t have accepted him as a partner. Most straight men didn’t want to hang with a gay guy in case others started questioning their masculinity.
A cheerful, dark-haired waitress hurried over to take their orders. Glancing at the menu, Nick asked for roast beef on rye, with all the trimmings.
Dillon just ordered coffee. He was too jittery to eat with Montana sitting across from him oozing his special brand of charisma. While men had always come easy to Dillon, few had stimulated his chemistry adequately to merit more than a few dates, probably because he’d been using Montana’s image as a bench mark for six years. Despite the water under the bridge, his heart still ached for the unattainable, which meant he was bound to get hurt again if he took this mission. He wondered, in the interest of self-preservation, if he should try and finagle his way out of it.
“So, how have you been, Dillon? Last I heard you were heading to law school.”
Dillon blinked back, looked into Montana’s expressive dark eyes and knew there was no way he could pull out of the assignment. Not without looking like idiot. Whatever else happened, he didn’t want to lose Montana’s respect. He gave a small smile.
“Yes, I went ahead and got my law degree, even though I’d already decided to work on the investigative side of things.”
“And how are you finding it?”
“Managing to stay busy.” And because he was dying to know what the other man might be thinking about him, he added, “I’m surprised you agreed to take me on as a partner. I recall you saying you preferred to work solo.”
Montana nodded. “I do, but this mission is complicated, and you come highly recommended by Matt.” He looked up and smiled as the waitress placed his sandwich on the table and poured them coffee from a thermal jug.
Dillon waited until she left, then went on, “So, how long have you worked for Matt?”
“A few years, off and on.”
Dillon was intrigued to realize he’d had a connection to Montana through Matt and hadn’t known it. He watched as Montana poured cream into his coffee, thinking how the angles of his broad cheekbones and strong nose were a sharp contrast to his generously curved mouth. He couldn’t count the times he’d dreamt about kissing that alluring mouth— He glanced away, told himself to stick to business.
“Tell me about the mission.”
Why I read this book: I was excited to read this book because Ali Atwood is a “New to me” author. I’m always happy to find new authors.
I liked both of the MCs in the story. Dillon was a sweet character and I instantly connected with him. I enjoyed his backstory and how he interacted with Montana. I also loved the fact that he was magic and would have loved to hear more about how he learned to use it; even though he didn’t know who his parents were or where he came from. Maybe that will happen in another story? I hope so, because it felt a bit unfinished this way.
Montana was a great character too. I loved how he was willing to do whatever it took to save the young boy, even pretend to be gay. He was very quick to act on his feelings for Dillon, even though he seemed to be confused by what it all meant at first. One of the only things that I had any issue with in this story, was the fact that Montana (even though he appeared to be unsure of his feelings), still jumped right into a long term relationship with Dillon. It was just too fast without any resolution to his confusion for me.
The chemistry between Dillon and Montana was amazing and there were some very steamy scenes.
This is a short story. Once again, I’m amazed that an author can put so much information into so few pages and make it work. I was impressed with how Ali Atwood made this book come together. It flows nicely and I never felt overwhelmed. I wish the book was longer because so much more needed to be said to make this story feel complete for me, but it did have a great premise and I hope that there will be more about both of these characters in future books. All in all, it was a good story and I enjoyed it.
Where to buy:
Where to add:
Ali Atwood is a transplanted Brit, living the outdoor life in Florida. Her previous careers could fill a catalogue—everything from flight attendant to ice cream parlor owner. Since Ali has traveled over much of the world, she draws from that knowledge to create unique characters and backdrops. Aside from writing, Ali enjoys horseback riding and golf. She has eclectic taste in music, a fondness for French champagne and a slight obsession with social media.