Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Release Blitz: Diamond in the Rough by Charlie Cochet (Reviews + Excerpt)

Diamond in the Rough RDB Banner
RELEASE DATE: 02.12.19
Cover Art Copyright © 2019 Reese Dante

For Ward “King” Kingston the role of protector, forged by fire and tragedy, is one he takes seriously. When King is asked to safeguard the son of a four-star general and friend, he is pulled back into the world of government black ops on a mission that raises painful memories from his past. The moment King meets Leo, amid the chaos of a lockdown at a secret black site, it’s clear he’s never faced a challenge like this—one that will test his unwavering sense of control.
Leopold de Loughrey is a misunderstood genius whose anxiety and insecurities are sent into overdrive when he is forcefully recruited to work on a top-secret project. Terrified of what his role as “invaluable asset” means, Leo’s stress leads to disappearances, arguments, and blowups that threaten the project and Leo’s future. King’s arrival is a calm in the storm for Leo and his frenetic thoughts.
King and Leo couldn’t be more different, yet as they navigate the dangers of a secret multi-agency operation and face unknown threats, their differences could be what saves them. Neither man believes a happily ever after is in the cards, but their hearts might just prove them wrong… if they can survive a deadly betrayal.

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“Everything okay?”
Leo bit down on his bottom lip and nodded. “Mm-hm.” How about we not reveal what a complete and total freak we are to the hot soldier guy? Not hot. Obviously hot, but Leo shouldn’t be thinking hot. Ones and zeroes. That’s what he should be thinking. Ones and zeroes and sixes, or was that eights? Six-pack or eight-pack?
“I’m sorry?”
Leo’s jaw went slack. Holy shit, he’d said that out loud! He promptly shut his mouth, eyes wide. Something banged somewhere, and he flinched. Lifting his gaze, King scanned the room, his expression turning pensive, like he was trying to figure something out. For Leo, it was easy. Noise. It filled the room. Clicking of keyboards, talking, whirring of equipment, and movement. The hostility that rolled off some of the analysts like little clouds of doom didn’t help either.
“I’ll be right back,” King said before he headed toward the analysts.
Leo followed King’s movement as he walked down the rows of workstations until he seemed to find what he was looking for. With a warm smile at Heather, one of the first analysts to be recruited, he pointed to a pair of heavy-duty noise-canceling headphones. He said something that had her blinking up at him, and he checked her ID before his next words were followed by him putting his hand to his chest. She raked her gaze over every inch of him—way to be subtle, Heather—and her cheeks went pink before she lifted her wide eyes to his. Leo wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it, but she visibly sighed. Like a dreamy sigh, not the frustrated “why do you have to breathe the same oxygen as me” sigh she’d given Leo that morning when he’d asked to borrow a highlighter.
Heather nodded, and King took the pair of large headphones from her desk, then returned to Leo, Heather’s gaze never leaving him, or rather his ass. Leo narrowed his eyes at her, and when she realized she’d been busted, she started typing away at her keyboard like she was Sandra Bullock in Speed and her desk would blow up if she typed under fifty words per minute.
“Does anyone actually ever say no to you?” Leo asked.
King chuckled and handed him the headphones. “You’d be surprised. My family certainly has no problem giving me a piece of their minds. Noise-canceling headphones. Why don’t you use these for now and let me know which brand you prefer, and I’ll be sure to get a pair brought to you right away.”
“How did you know?”
“One of my brothers-in-arms, Jack, handles cybersecurity for Four Kings Security, and when he’s working on an important project, he puts on headphones to block out any noise that messes with his concentration. Usually it’s when our other brother, Ace, is in the same building.”
Leo couldn’t help his smile. “King, Jack, Ace? I’m sensing a pattern here.”

5 Stars!!!

Diamond in the Rough is book 4 (and last!) in the Four Kings Security series by Charlie Cochet and for a better experience, I suggest reading them in order. Fans of the series shouldn't despair on it ending, as Ms. Cochet is doing a spin-off series of this one with some of the characters we've met already like Jack, Joker and Jay, yay!!!

This was King's story and damn if Charlie Cochet didn't leave the best for last, which is saying something because the whole series was outstanding! King had been a bit of a mystery until we saw him in action on the epilogue for Join the Club (book 3) and since then I've been chomping at the bit to get to know him better and I loved seeing the usually stoic man getting all out of sorts for the genius, nerdy guy. While I will admit that I was one of the fans that wanted King with his assistant Jay, I will also say that I'm glad that didn't happen. Yes, Jay is fabulous and I can't wait for his story, but Leo is amazing as well and better suited for King. King needed someone like Leo to knock through his defenses, they were so sweet and hot and I loved that King was very protective of Leo, but Leo was no slouch in the protective department either and was resourceful as all hell when he needed to be. Plus, Leo just fit so well with the group, too, and it was endearing to see how much they all wanted King to be happy. Of course, it didn't hurt that Leo and King had chemistry in spades and threatened to set my kindle (and me) on fire a few times. LOL

As always, it was a pleasure catching up with the rest of the guys and I'm ecstatic that this is not the last we've seen of them!

Overall, this was a fantastic addition to the series. Each book has been better than the previous as we get to know all the guys better and fall in love with them and their partners and I can't wait to see where the new series will lead us. Highly recommendable!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

5 Stars!

When King agrees to watch over and protect General de Loughrey’s son Leo, he knows it’s not going to be easy. As a former Green Beret, he’s dealt with the secretive and duplicitous bureaucratic crap that goes along with black ops missions and he doesn’t want to see Leo get eaten up by it all. From the very first moment King meets Leo in person, he knows he will protect him at all costs. It doesn’t help that he’s instantly drawn to him like to no one ever before him.

Leo has spent his whole life feeling like he will never find someone who really understands him. As a genius with a long list of insecurities and anxiety issues, the last thing he should have to deal with is being forced into doing top-secret government projects. Looked at as just an “asset”, Leo is treated with no respect or kindness leading him to prolonging the project. With everyone constantly treating him as a verbal punching bag, he escapes numerous times leading the entire department to search for him, only to show up a few minutes later seemingly oblivious to the whole situation. Luckily when King arrives, he is able to provide Leo with some much needed care and stability.

I was so excited to finally get King's story, he’s been the character I’ve been most intrigued by from the very beginning. From book one, Love in Spades, when we get our first glimpse of King and his strong and loyal connection to Ace and all of their rah tag family, I knew he was the one I was going to fall in love with. Not only did his story completely hook me but I can actually say it became my favorite of the series. I loved both King and Leo.

Leo is the sweet, adorable nerd who is a tad awkward, quirky and hilarious. He’s so unaware of how lovable he is and it totally made me laugh. He was perfect for King who has the whole badass persona down pat. They balanced each other out so well and the two of them together went from cute and funny to hot and steamy to sweet exceptionally well.

Charlie Cochet did an excellent job wrapping up this particular series and leaving me anxious for the spin-off. Her writing is funny and intriguing with the best balance of drama and action along with romance and sex. It’s easy to get lost in the pages and the characters and it will leave you wanting more. I’d definitely recommend this book as well as the series because all of these characters are fantastic.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.**

4.5 Stars!

So good, it made me download the previous 4 tales in this series.

I've not read this author for a while now, though I did pick up her Thirds series back in the day, until they began to get a bit too same-same, so Diamond In The Rough was a really good book to get reacquainted with her. She's definitely upped her game and though the tale - a bunch of kick butt protectors who just happen to be gay and who've joined forces to set up a protection business - has been done so many times, she didn't rely on giving us chapter and verse about how good the protectors are in a huge infodump; instead she gave us a damned good tale and did the 'actions are louder than words thing'.

I liked that the tale started right in the middle of things, without a long introduction and us getting to know the guys slowly. King came into the tale once things with Leo were already deteriorating and I liked how they ended up being introduced. We didn't need to be told how tough-and-yet-with-a-soft-centre King was, and instead, we saw this through his immediate concern for Leo's physical and mental well being. And, Leo was beautifully portrayed as a genius lacking in social skills, in a really credible manner, without any tropes or anything that felt faux. Again, the author showed us brilliantly how his brain worked and I loved some of the explanations that Leo came out with; you could really see him via his thinking pattern and his brain tangents. And, I loved that he wasn't labelled, either by others or by himself, that he knew himself, his strengths and weaknesses, and had already figured out in theory who and what he might need from a relationship, and that he was matter-of-fact about it all. No self-pity in our Leo, which was really refreshing; I loved his intelligence and mental strength. I also loved how his general father had loved and protected him, and had ensured that Leo was kept as under the radar as possible. And yes, Leo was the one who accidentally, believably outed himself, and the explanation totally worked for me.

Yes, there's some danger, some machinations happening, some intrigue and all of it was done organically enough and without any blatant red herrings, that things sort of were at the periphery of my thinking, so that when they happened, I still got a 'WTH??' moment and was jolted. Too much often gets hinted at too much, or too early, or too obviously, and sometimes all three, but CC did really well with things.

The baddie of the tale was credible and I loved that he'd be getting his just desserts. He reminded me of the Justin Hammer character in Ironman 2; someone you love to hate, whose comeuppance you want to see. And, I liked his reasons for his actions, and suspect that via the baddie, we heard CC's opinions of how the US is handling things Intelligence and Military, and, maybe more. I think that she's another MM author who has strong opinions about what's happening in her country, and is using her books to state her take on it. Again, that's a good thing, because yes, right now the US in 2019 is a scary place on many levels, with multiple injustices for many, and if an author has a voice that could do good and could be heard by people, then good on them.

I liked, too, how sort of mismatched the guys were in many ways, but how when they fell for each other, any differences and doubts just seemed to fall away - Leo used his amazing brain to analyse himself, and King relied on loving words of wisdom from his brothers-in-arms, and none of it was done in a corny way. These were guys being guys, not leads from a het romance masquerading as leads in a MM romance. I did think, fleetingly, that King might be slightly the boss in the relationship, as when a subject came up, he refused to commit one way or another, and then I figured out that that didn't bother Leo, and it worked for them, ergo, not a problem. I did feel that they were equals, but in very different ways, and that their differences wouldn't keep them apart.

This tale was good enough for me to pick up the previous 3 in the series; the previous leads who help King and Leo made me want to read their tales. It only loses a 0.5* as the ending seemed a little too rushed and a little too convenient. I'd have liked a touch more explanation re how the 'framed' character turned out not to be who they seemed to be, and how they'd disappeared off a certain radar, and had been absorbed into something so huge. That would've lent some more credibility to this book, though yes, it is a nice-to-have, not an essential, part to the tale. I just felt that explanations were rushed and that a relationship could have been mended with a little page time for this character.

Overall, this was an excellent, intelligent tale, and I can see why CC is so respected by her fellow MM authors.

ARC courtesy of the author and Bayou Book Junkie, for my reading pleasure.


Charlie Cochet is the international bestselling author of the THIRDS series. Born in Cuba and raised in the US, Charlie enjoys the best of both worlds, from her daily Cuban latte to her passion for classic rock.
Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found devouring a book, releasing her creativity through art, or binge watching a new TV series. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Twitter: @charliecochet
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