This book is the perfect comfort read. It's sweet and endearing, with a bit of action and sass (mostly from a certain dog..). Joker and Gio have been circling around each other for a WHILE now so getting to see them finally find their HEA was fun. They know each other in a way and they sure know OF each other especially once Gio finally returns to Florida from his endless travels. Being Laz's older brother means he spends a lot of time with the Kings so it's impossible to really avoid each other, well, there's only one doing the avoiding - Joker - with Gio doing his best to lure him in.
Giovanni "Gio" Galanos knows what he wants. He wants Joker (or Sacha as he insists on calling him). There is simply something about him that appeals to Gio in a deeper level. His desire towards him has a few layers. There's the confident Gio seeing exactly the kind of guy he carves and the more vulnerable Gio looking for safe and comfort he believe he can only find in Sacha's arms. He might put up a front of the rich and capable guy, but underneath it, there is someone who is still struggling with what happened to him a year ago in a far away continent.
Sacha “Joker” Wilder doesn't know how to keep away from Gio. Whenever he is around he just feels like he should be putting a distance though truthfully his feelings get VERY confusing when he starts to spend more time with the guy. It also doesn't help that Gio is Chip's favorite human. Chip being Joker's Belgian Malinios or not so silent partner at Four Kings Security.
When there seems to be a security treat to Gio's life Joker starts to take things into his own hands. Well, he TRIES at first to stay away (while making sure Gio is secured) but it doesn't last for long and when they finally share a kiss it's obvious for both the next moves are inevitable. With the risk to his life Gio finds himself revealing (not so eagerly) what happened in Sri Lanka a year ago. This also changes the dynamics between the two when both Gio and Joker realize the implications of what happened there and what Gio needs to be more aware of now.
It isn't easy for Gio to show his weakness to Joker as well as his brother (and the rest of the guys). But he also knows deep down that the person who makes him safe is Joker, as long as he has him by his side he doesn't have to feel alone and scared. It doesn't change the past or the present but it sure helps.
I liked seeing the multidimensional sides of Gio. He was strong and capable, rich by his own rights (though I didn't understand exactly how..) always striving to help others less fortunate. He was also loving and compassionate, sweet and funny in a dorky way. It was impossible not to see what anyone - but especially Joker - would find in him. That's without mentioning the strong connection Gio and Chip shared. Joker wasn't sure how a guy like Gio could be "real", not hiding some awful truth. He had his experiences with THOSE kind. But seeing Gio, getting to know him, especially his more vulnerable sides made him realize that's simply who Gio is - someone who SEES Joker for who he is and accepts him. This isn't something he ever thought would be possible especially not for someone with Gio's status and fortune.
There's a bit more to this book with A LOT more of the guys from the previous books - this is most definitely NOT a standalone novel. It was fun getting all of them. It's been a while, you know? Makes me wish I could go back to a few of the books. There's also A LOT of dog shenanigans so if you're into VERY talkative and expressive canines this book would be THE THING for you. I prefer mine expressive for sure not not THAT talkative truth being told hehe.
This book was cuteness. Which is something that could be said for most if not ALL of Charlie's books. It could be criticism but it's also "what it is" - There's a lot of cheese in Charlie's books - take it or leave it. I enjoyed this one even if I wouldn't say these guys feel THAT realistic (especially as ex-military). Also one thing I feel kind of iffy about is the lack of diverse coupling. They can't ALL be gay (or bi who chose a gay partner).
At the very end Charlie gives us a little snippet into a new series I'm looking forward to reading. Wonder what and if it means anything about this one. From what I know there's at least another one promised a LONG while ago and a hint of another couple mentioned near the end of this book. It's fine. I'm patient. I'm also waiting for THIRDS/TIN to return to us! There is something about these endearing books. Sometimes it's exactly what the doctor would prescribe.
7-9 July 2021
Each book in the series will be of one of the four finding their HEA, with "The Kings: Wild Cards" as "spin off" with characters we've met along the series including characters we've already met, like Jack and Joker who were a part of the original Kings team on their military days.
Four Kings Security:
1. Love in Spades [Anston "Ace" Sharpe & Colton Connolly] (Published 24 April 2018) ★★★★★
2. Be Still My Heart [Russell "Red" McKinley & Lazarus "Laz" Galanos] (Published 29 July 2018) ★★★★
2.5 Ante Up [Seth & Kit] (Published 28 august 2018) ★★★★
3. Join the Club [Eduardo "Lucky" Alejandro Morales & Mason Cooper] (Published 19 November 2018) ★★★★½
4. Diamond in the Rough [Ward "King" Kingston & Leopold "Leo" de Loughrey] (Published 15 February 2019) ★★★★★
4.5 In the Cards [Anston "Ace" Sharpe & Colton Connolly *] (Published 8 February 2019) ★★½
(* Including Spencer & Quinn the couple from "Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts")
The Kings: Wild Cards:
1. Stacking the Deck [Jacopo "Jack" Lorenzo Constantino & Fitz Harlow] (Published 28 July 2020) ★★★★
2. Raising the Ante [Frank Ramirez & Joshua Sterling] (Published 10 January 2021) ★★★★½
3. Sleight of Hand [Sacha "Joker" Wilder & Giovanni "Gio" Galanos] (Published 6 July 2021) ★★★★½
4. Calling his Bluff [Jay & Ryden] (To Be Published ???)