Erryn reviews Valor on the Move (Valor #1) by Keira Andrews, published September 7, 2015 by KA Books, 287 pages. The audiobook was released on July 24, 2019, is 9hrs and 48mins and is narrated by Iggy Toma. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read the book: Secret Service? President’s son? I’m in.
He’d give his life to protect the president’s son. But he never expected to risk his heart.
Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.
It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.
Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.
But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?
Contains mature themes.
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I had heard good things about this book and was thrilled when it came out in audio. I’m on a bit of a May/December kick these days as there are some really good stories out there. This is definitely one of them. Rafa Castillo has spent more than seven years in the White House living under intense scrutiny as the first son. He’s the youngest of four children and the only one who is home for any significant period of time. In fact he’s home for the summer and his mother has plans for him to do speeches for her charity. Although he appreciates it’s for a good cause, Rafa just wants to hide away, be by himself, and try out recipes. But his mother has made it clear that cooking is beneath a Castillo. Rafa has one true friend, Ashley, but she’s over in Europe for the summer. He gets to see her in videochat but that’s about it. Frankly, his loneliness spoke to me – sometimes you can be surrounded by people and yet feel utterly alone.
Until the day Shane Kendrick joins his protective detail. Shane has been with the Secret Service for years and although his eventual goal is to protect the President, at least protecting Rafa (Valor) gets him inside the White House. Rafa has the nickname of ‘Mouse’ because unlike his other siblings, he’s easy to handle. He behaves, never gives his agents grief, and, in fact, treats them with respect. Although he’s not supposed to get close to the agents, he takes the time to learn their names. When Shane comes along, Rafa finds he wants to get to know more about the handsome older agent.
I love the slow development of the relationship between the two men – it was completely appropriate. There is the obvious professional barrier – as in getting involved would cost Shane his badge – but there is also the issue of experience – as in Shane has lots and Rafa…yeah, not so much.
Rafa’s struggles with hiding away his sexuality comes to a head with his family and there are a lot of hurt feelings. His instinct to run is one I understood but it didn’t stand him in good stead and instead lead to lots of drama. I’ll admit this book had more action than I was expecting and it was great. Everything felt realistic and not melodramatic. That meant when Shane and Rafa did finally admit they had feelings for each other that it was authentic and true. And man did my heart melt just a bit.
There was a lot to digest in this book including how politics and personal convictions collide and that sometimes things are done for political expediency. Sometimes things are done to hurt people intentionally and that’s always cruel. That Rafa eventually found his voice gave me hope. And a happy ending. This is a romance and I got my happy ending. Did Shane and Rafa have to work for it? Oh hell yes. Was it worth it? Oh hell yes.
Iggy Toma narrated this book and I was thrilled. I first encountered him several years ago and he’s helmed some of my favorite books. I like his comfortable style and his female voices are always well done. I really enjoyed this book and I think others will as well. Plus, part 2 is out on audio so I can’t wait to delve into that one.
10/10 pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars