Melissa and Dana review Test of Valor (Valor, #2) by Keira Andrews, published April 26th 2018 by KA Books, 225 pages.
With his father no longer president, twenty-two-year-old Rafa Castillo can finally be with ex-Secret Service agent Shane Kendrick. Shane’s given up his career for Rafa, a move his fellow agents question the sanity and morality of. Eager to get away from the questions and judgement, Rafa and Shane are building a new life together in Australia. Though Shane struggles with nightmares and his over-protective instincts while Rafa fights his own insecurity, they love each other more than ever.
Now they just have to get through a visit from the former president and first lady.
Rafa’s parents certainly don’t approve of his romance with forty-year-old Shane, and they’re determined to make him see reason. They don’t see how their son could possibly be happy settling down with an older man, and they question Shane’s motives. Shane and Rafa just want a normal life together—but when they must suddenly battle for survival, they fight to prove their fierce love can withstand any threat.
This gay romance from Keira Andrews is the conclusion of the Valor duology. It features a May-December age difference, sex on the beach, and of course a happy ending.
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Designs
Length: 70,000 words approx.
Why Melissa read this book: I love to read about established couples and to be able to see Rafa and Shane again, this is the best of both worlds, reading about them finding each other in Valor on the Move, and then to be an established couple in Test of Valor.
Why Dana read this book: I am a fan of Keira Andrews’ writing. I read Valor On the Move when it came out but didn’t review it. When we were offered a review copy of this book, I definitely wanted to see what Rafa and Shane were up to.
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Wow, when I finished reading Valor on the Move in 2016, I wrote in my review that I wanted to see more of these guys, maybe 10-15 years later. I never expected there to be another installment to this “series” since it wasn’t a series at the time. So when Test of Valor came out, first I think my jaw hit the floor in shock, because OMG wishes do come true! And then I was all, gimme, gimme! I have to see these guys again. There was never any doubt I was going to read this book.
Test of Valor isn’t years in the future, more like 5 or so months after Valor on the Move, but it was still so yummy. These guys are so perfect together, and despite Shane’s treating Rafa as a delicate flower, someone Shane has to protect physically and emotionally, I thought they had progressed well. It didn’t feel as if I had waited years to see them again. I remember almost everything from book 1, which is such a shock because it has been a while, but I guess there are just some stories that stay with you (even if at the time you don’t think it will).
Through the whole story I was waiting for that dramatic moment, kidnapping, danger, guns ablazing. But what really ends up happening is just as good. Yes, there are dramatics towards the end, and no, I am not going to say what because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Part of my enjoyment was me just waiting for something to happen, and when it did I was all, YES! 😀
It was really heartwarming to see Rafa’s family come together at the end, which was a big sticking point thru the whole book. Rafa’s mother was having the hardest time accepting Rafa and Shane’s relationship. But at the end, while there is still some awkwardness, things have definitely improved.
I do certainly recommend Test of Valor and warn you this cannot be read as a standalone. You need to read Valor on the Move first because Test of Valor picks up roughly 5 months later.
Now the question is, will there be another book in this series, possibly with different characters? Shane’s cop friend and previous “friends with benefits” friend, could possibly be given his own book. There is the potential for a man in his life. I think I would enjoy reading about that. 🙂
Test of Valor is the second book in a series where 40 year old secret service agent Shane fell in love with his charge, the president’s 22 year old son, Rafa, Code name – Valor. The second book picks up from their getting together in book one. It is true that the story should be read as a series in order. I admit that it has been a while since I read Valor on the Move, and I forgot a bit of what happened. The author did well in explaining and rehashing some of what happened, but I wish I had re-read book one before reading this one, just to freshen my memory. Despite the memory gaps I had, I thought the book really flowed well and was an easy read.
I do remember the first book being somewhat of a slow burn. There was a lot of hesitation in the first book to get together because of age difference and the ethics of entering a relationship with a client – the person you are supposed to be protecting. At the end of the first book, the employment situation changed and Rafa and Shane were freed up to be together, but now they have to deal more with the age difference between them. Rafa’s family doesn’t want him with someone older, Shane’s friend calls Rafa a boy, and others mistake Shane as Rafa’s father. It only gets more complicated when Shane doesn’t share things with Rafa and can’t stop his instinct to protect. For Rafa, it makes him feel like a child in Shane’s eyes and invalidates their relationship.
There is a good amount of emotional baggage for these guys to unpack in this story, and I loved it. I could really feel for these guys. I loved the May-December romance aspect because there is something about not letting age differences interfere with attraction and love. Shane is also having nightmares about parents’ deaths mixed in with fears for Rafa’s safety. Of course, they don’t always communicate effectively so working out their problems is difficult. I found myself very angry at Rafa’s parents who seemed determined to break them up. Rafa’s siblings, especially his brother Matt were great, though. I loved how Matt stood up for Rafa on more than once against their mom.
There is a bit more going on in this book other than just relationship growing pains. There are family dynamics at play, and self discovery for Rafa. He is younger so he is working out who he is in the world in general. Rafa wants to be a cook and the author describes his dishes so well that I can almost taste them. An accident occurs where Shane proves himself to be the honorable man that Rafa first met and fell for. He gets back in the good graces of his old co-workers. Even Rafa’s family started coming around. Having a close-knit family myself, I was happy to see that things turning around. Shane and Rafa definitely deserved the love and support.
I feel like this was a well-rounded story. There were highs and lows. I felt anger, worry, and hope. Rafa and Shane work together to save their relationship and face a crisis and there were nothing but good feelings when I read the last page. I definitely recommend the series and the book.
9/10 pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
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