07 April 2015

Under His Guard (Don’t Tell #3) by Rie Warren

 Rebel soldier Darke lost his lover during the early stages of the InterNations war. Only the flirtatious attentions of the gorgeous Leon Cheramie brought him back from heartbreak and grief. Unwilling to get attached again, Darke has fought their undeniable attraction to one another. But when Leon's life is threatened, Darke cannot deny what's been brewing between them.

After escaping certain death at the hands of the enemy, the brave and determined Leon has proven himself capable of fighting in the war. The only thing he hasn't been able to do is capture the heart of the fearless warrior Darke. When a huge victory is won for the revolutionaries, Darke and Leon finally give in to their feelings for one another.

But the celebration is short-lived when Leon is infected with a deadly virus. He's a human time bomb set to plague the entire rebel population. Now, the final endgame of the war is pitted against the rebels' race to find a cure before Leon becomes a full-blown carrier and Darke loses the man who managed to win his love and bring him back to life.
Having read the novella, In His Sights, I was already familiar with the future world this book was set in. Even though I haven’t read books one and two, I don’t think it is necessary to do so in order to enjoy Under His Guard. Although I suspect doing so may add to your overall enjoyment as you will be more familiar with several of the characters that make up this rag-tag group of rebels, this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read. That said, I have enjoyed the two books I have now read in the Don’t Tell series and plan to go back and read books one and two as I do enjoy the world Ms. Warren has created and her writing style.

As I said, I haven’t read In His Command or On Her Watch so I don’t know how much backstory followers of the series have into the lives of Darke and Leon. With the way that Ms. Warren presents their story, I found myself suitably up to speed on the problems that had been plaguing their almost-relationship. Despite the loss of months of his memory, Leon knows that there is a history between him and Darke and his rebuke of Darke once they all learn of Leon’s infection is understandable. Under His Guard is told from Darke’s point of view, so the reader gets to see why Darke has kept Leon at a distance and why he chooses to stop fighting Leon when he does. The back and forth between the men is understandable and given the circumstances, it feels realistic rather than contrived angst. When the decision is made to leave Chitamauga to find Cutler and the cure, emotions run even higher as hope mixes with worry that many in their group won’t make it back.

Ms. Warren does an excellent job of weaving Darke and Leon’s love story within the action of the war. I enjoyed the balance she strikes between the intrigue, the fighting, the romance, and the seriously hot sex. The chemistry between Darke and Leon is intense and I could feel the connection between the two men. I was so relieved when they finally stopped fighting each other and embraced the love between them. Were it not for that, I’m not sure that the end would have been the same. As always occurs in war, there were so many casualties – known and unknown, deserving and undeserving – and what the group faced upon their return to Chitamauga was both hopeful and heartbreaking. According to the Acknowledgements, this is the final installment in the Don’t Tell series and I think Ms. Warren did an excellent job in bringing the war to a satisfying end. While I can understand her decision to do so, I can only hope that her muse comes a-knockin’ and gives us a glimpse into the lives of this motley crew in the new world they are helping to shape.


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