Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Series Recap ~ Shatterproof Bond Series by Isobel Starling ~ (Series Reviews + Author Guest Post)

Series Recap ~ Shatterproof Bond Series by Isobel Starling ~ (Reviews + Author Guest Post)

Author: Isobel Starling

Series Buy Links: Amazon US  Amazon UK All Romance


As You Wish (Shatterproof Bond #0.5)

1 wedding, 2 best men, one hell of a love story!

This contemporary M/M romantic comedy is set at the Scottish castle wedding of Annabelle Aiken to Scotsman Oliver Ramsay. Oliver’s brother Declan is to be joint best man, sharing the duties with Annabelle’s ‘kid’ brother, Samuel Aiken. However, both men have never actually met. Sam Aiken has been abroad, studying and working as an interpreter and he wouldn’t meet Declan until a few days before the wedding. But on meeting Sam Aiken, Declan is surprised to realize the ‘kid’ isn't a kid at all, but a tall, blond, and athletic young man. Sam makes Declan laugh like no other, and Declan is alarmed by the ferocious attraction he begins to feel for Sam. And as the attraction is reciprocated, the events at Dunloch Castle change everything Declan has ever believed about himself.
But is Samuel Aiken all that he appears to be?

Illuminate the Shadows (Shatterproof Bond #1)

In this M/M comedy thriller we continue where “As You Wish” ended.
The charming, mysterious Samuel Aiken has turned Declan Ramsay’s life upside down and Declan has experienced a remarkable change. He has come to terms with the fact he is bisexual, and he has fallen head-over- heels in love with his employer’s son. However, falling for his boss’s son was never going to be an easy path to happiness, mainly because the boss in question is multi-millionaire property tycoon and former MI5 operative, Sir James Aiken. Sir James is repulsed by his son’s homosexuality, and the lovers cannot hide from his looming presence for long. Soon enough James makes his move, and Declan finds out what he will have to endure to stay with Sam, and what he will have to give to feel worthy of Sam's love.

Return to Zero (Shatterproof Bond #2)

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 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 A.L.L employees are missing -- presumed dead, while at an outdoor adventure centre in the Scottish Highlands. Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover their fate. Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple. 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.

As You Wish (Book 0.5)

I do love a good GFY story so I was pretty excited to read this one.  Declan who has never questioned his heterosexuality meets the one man that seems to speak to something deep inside of him. With Sam he feels things in and out of the bedroom, it's not only the fact that their sex is better than Declan could ever have imagined but the way they just get one another is life changing.   

Unfortunately, their timing couldn't have been worse. With just a week together for the wedding of Declan's brother and Sam's sister, it doesn't leave them with a lot of alone time. Add in an aggressive bridesmaid who won't take no for an answer, Sam's father who seems hell bent on controlling his son's life and the fact that they can't exactly advertise that they're sleeping together and this is definitely going to be a week they'll never forget. 

But when Sam is forced to go out of the country by his father, Declan is left adrift. Where is Sam, will he be back and what will happen to them? 

I loved that this was a combination of sexy and humor with a very engaging storyline.  I loved Sam, who was fun, snarky and a bit of a mystery.  Declan was great as well and his surly personality in the beginning was very entertaining, I actually kind of missed it a little by the end of the book. The couple had great chemistry and I loved their banter and the way they fed off of each other. 

I definitely recommend As You Wish and look forward to the next book. 

5 Stars! 

Illuminate The Shadows (Book 1)

Picking up from where As You Wish left off, Sam is still gone and after 3 months Declan is questioning whether or not Sam will come back to him. His life is so different now that he's been with Sam and the fact that he's dealing with it alone bothers him.  When Sam appears back in Declan's life and reveals the truth about what he does and who his father really is, Declan is surprised.  

Sam has a way for he and Declan to be together but it means big changes for Declan's life.  Determined to do whatever it takes to keep the man he's fallen in love with, Declan will undergo whatever his boss, Sir James Aiken will throw at him. James may be Sam's father and an ex MI5 agent, but he has no idea what Declan can endure when he's fighting for his relationship with Sam. 

Less sex but more action. I liked this book but missed the wonderful banter between the characters in this story compared to the first one. I know that As You Wish was in a way a romantic comedy and Illuminate The Shadows is more action, but I really wanted some of the humor from the previous book. 

I loved seeing how tough Declan actually is, he's a bit of a surprise. Sam, of course, we learned is a badass in the book before but now we get a better picture of it, delving into their business.  It's nice to see that they are on a bit more even ground. 

I enjoyed and definitely would recommend Illuminate The Shadows. 

4 Stars!

Return To Zero (Book 2)

Declan is wondering when he'll be called in to do whatever it is Sir James has planned for him.  He and Sam are enjoying their lives together but they both can't help but wait for the other shoe to drop. When Sam gets a message in the form of a threat, Declan learns that Sam has been hiding things from him and that's not going to work if they're going to be partners. 

I enjoyed Return To Zero but again I have to admit that As You Wish is still my favorite. The banter between the characters was so fun and light that I couldn't help but smile. Now while I still like both Sam and Declan, they're both a little darker which goes well with the more serious tone of this book.  Sam, of course, is like Super Spy but with a sweet, cute and fun side.   Declan is more of an emotional character this time around however and it was a bit disconcerting. 

There is a lot of suspense and action/adventure in this book and while there were times that I found myself dragging a bit through the pages, it is still a very recommendable book. 

4 Stars!

***A copy of this book was provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review***

Today we are happy welcome Isobel Starling author of The Shatterproof Bond Series today!

Thanks for being here Isobel!

Could you talk a little about your writing process for this series, your inspiration for it and for Declan and Sam?

My favourite men of the moment are Scotsman Declan Ramsay, and Englishman Sam Aiken from my “Shatterproof Bond” series.  The three M/M comedy thrillers that make up the series “As You Wish”, “Illuminate the Shadows” and “Return to Zero” are packed with intrigue, action, love, humour, and smouldering sex.  

Sam and Declan’s humorous love story unfolds when they meet and fall in love at their sibling's wedding, at a Scottish castle, in the book “As You Wish”.  

I had wanted to take part in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group ‘Don’t read in the closet’ event for a while.  I was juggling the writing of two novels and convinced myself I had no time for another story.  But then, author Kaje Harper put a post on Facebook, saying that a writer had dropped out and a prompt was looking for a new writer.  Curious, I clicked on the link and as soon as I saw the accompanying prompt photograph I was smitten.  I decided I would find the time, and claimed the story prompt straight away.

“As You Wish” fell out of my head, and as I was only given a six week deadline , this was a blessing!  I knew from the first chapter I had a series on my hands.  I fell in love with Sam and Declan and was compelled to continue their story.  On its release, the feedback I got from readers was so positive and they wanted desperately to know what happened next.  So did I…
I’m not much of a planner, I write as the stories come to me naturally, and Sam and Declan had a wonderful story to tell.  However, as the series continued with “Illuminate the Shadows” I had to start to plan a bit more.  The more characters a writer introduces, with their own back stories and agendas, the more the writer needs to define a plot.  I had a start, middle and end in mind, but as I wrote, the story got bigger and bigger.  To my surprise, I found that I actually had two books, and not one.  So I released “Illuminate the Shadows” in May, and a month later “Return to Zero”.

My protagonists Sam and Declan are very close to my heart.  Declan Ramsay’s life before meeting Sam Aiken had been in free fall.  He was a serial dater, commitment-phobic, and had never been in a relationship for more than three months.  I’m sure some of us have met, even dated a man like this… a workaholic, who really isn’t comfortable in his own skin, and even though he may publicly appear in total control, Declan always questions his masculinity.  I think most men spend their lives trying to understand what it means to be a ‘real man’.  With Declan, I wanted to explore the story arc of a man going from an insecure, self-deprecating zero to a romantic hero.  

Sam Aiken, on the other hand, is too brilliant for his own good.  A child protégé, his intelligence, and skills have become tools to be harness by his father for his business.  He leads a near nomadic life in the Middle-East where he is apparently studying Linguistics and interpreting for his father’s foreign property deals.  Sam’s wants are simple.  He lives out of a suitcase and longs for roots.  He wants to have a home, a 9-5 job, and someone to go home to who loves him for who he is.  He needs someone to stand at his side against his overbearing, homophobic father, and so, meeting Declan and falling in love changes his life forever.  

The transformative power of love is something that I believe in wholeheartedly, and at the core of my writing, this is what you will always find.  Love can make us into the best version of ourselves that we can be.  And when you love and are loved in return, anything is possible.
Sam and Declan’s story will continue after “Return to Zero”, with a novella “Counterblow” and then a novel”Powder Burns”.

I am so delighted at how well the books have been received and I have signed translation and publishing deals with French and German publishers for the whole series.  “As You Wish” is pencilled in for an October release in France, and a February 2017 release in Germany.  I really cannot wait to share them with French and German readers.
©Isobel Starling 2016

Author Bio

Inspiration strikes at the strangest of times. 
Born in Germany, I spent most of my twenty-year professional career making art. I relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, I started to write and found I loved it more than making art. 
My first novel “Schonling” was a best seller in the GLBT-Bisexual genre on the ‘AllRomance eBooks’ site. I have just completed my sixth book, and am writing my seventh and eighth books consecutively. I have recently signed French translation rights for the whole Shatterproof Bond series. The first book in the series As You Wish will be published in France in October 2016, a year after its original release.
I adore the M/M genre. I enjoy writing about wounded souls and the complexities of personal relationships. Despite not having found proof yet, I believe in love at first sight and endeavour to give my M/M characters a thrilling journey and a satisfying ending.

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