Full disclosure – I love me some Radclyffe. I look forward to every new book and gleefully settle down for an afternoon or evening to read it. And then I read it again and again over the years. I think Rad’s books are ones that I have consistently re-read because I enjoy them so much. With so many series, and even more so as she seems to be crossing over between series, my OCD tends to kick in and I have to reread all the previous books – which is never really a chore – and get all caught up again in the continuing story lines and all the hot throbbing passion of previous characters who are now secondary characters. There’s no such thing as lesbian bed death in a Rad book. All the characters who have gone before are still just as hot and heavily in love and lust with their partner. There are so many things that should irk me (sometimes they do) – and Cheri will often point them out to me – but I don’t care. I just expect it, accept and enjoy it. I love me some Radclyffe.
Cost of Honor is the tenth book in the Honor series and continues the overarching story line from the previous books – Blair’s father, the President of the United States, is gearing up for the next election and there are darker forces at work to thwart his campaign. Thank god for the cadre of gorgeous, kick ass and brilliant lesbian agents, officers and other sundry professions who will work tirelessly to uncover the dastardly plots and save the day. I sound sarcastic – but I’m loving it, seriously. Rad spins a great tale with lots of intrigue, adventure, action and of course simmering passion. This is definitely a fun and fast-paced read that balances the suspense and intrigue perfectly with the romance (old and new).
Cam and Blair are strong supporting characters; but this novel belongs to Secret Service Agent Oakely Weaver (omigod, it appears that some parents are pretty much guaranteeing their daughters will grow up to be intense and stalwart butch leads in a Rad book) and the driven and successful political adviser, Ariana Rostov who has been dropped into mix after the suspicious death of the President’s original campaign manager. Also woven into the story are key characters (mostly Del and Sandy, but we get to visit a bit with Rebecca, Catherine, Sloan, and Michael) from the Justice series as they uncover chatter and suspicious activity in Philadelphia that may be linked to the Convention where Andrew Powell will be vying for his party’s nomination for the next election.
I think I would classify this more of an action/intrigue with a dash of steamy romance (or a few dashes since the main and the supporting characters are all getting hot and sweaty). It’s interesting to see the evolution of the series – there’s a time lag between the books being published and Rad picks up themes and elements from current politics and events to weave into the story, making it more real and compelling. In Cost of Honor, there’s a focus on the ideas of domestic terrorism and nefarious (foreign and domestic) influence on events and politics. These are obviously sensitive topics, and I have to say that Rad managed them with a tempered hand rather than exploiting them. They worked with the overarching story in the Honor Series and pushed the narrative and overall suspense and intrigue of the series as a whole – I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment to find out more about who and what is behind everything. I liked the way that she worked in the threat of a radicalized sleeper cell being activated demonstrated how insidious this type of thing can be – and how difficult it can be to identify it before its too late. Despite the number of recurring secondary characters in this book, all the characters she included in this book made sense and fit the narrative – there weren’t characters dropped in just so fans could revisit with them.
The romance, as expected, smolders and ignites between the two main characters. Despite everything that was going on in the novel and the different story lines, there was enough time with Oakes and Ari to build a relationship. There’s a great chemistry between the two, and as the book takes place over a longer period of time than a lot of Rad’s novels, the progression makes sense. The connection between them – with the intensity of the campaign and the underlying threats – wasn’t a roller-coaster of angst as some of the other relationships from previous books. Insta-attract is there, but the two actually end up together with little conflict in the relationship which is a nice change of pace as there’s more than enough intrigue and conflict in larger story.
I’m kind of enjoying the fact that Rad is mingling characters from different series – building a larger universe and consistency between the various novels. If you read Rad’s books, you’ll notice that lesbians are a bit like a invasive species that settles into an east coast city or town and takes over. Slowly but surely, everywhere you look, there’s a hotbed of broody lesbian intrigue or ridiculously attractive women with tragic backstories. With the number of ongoing series and books that she writes, it’s nice to get a glimpse of some of your favourite characters while you wait for the next official book in the series, especially those from the Justice Series which seems to have its central story line fizzle out. Rather than dropping the characters, we’ve seen Del and Sandy popping up in the Provincetown, First Responder and now Honor series. Personally, I would like to see more of Rebecca and Catherine – but Del and Sandy seem to be more active in investigations and there’s an interesting gender fluidity that Del/Mitch brings to the table – even though I often wonder if one of them will end up with an aneurysm from all the hot, sweaty and mind-blowing sex they seem to have.
Not that I’m biased or anything, but I would recommend reading the entire series to fully enjoy this one. You can probably get away with not reading the Justice series – but why deny yourself the fun of reading that one as well. I’m really not sure how well Cost of Honor would be enjoyed without the context of the other books, but I suspect that there’s enough of backstory for context that you could pick up the story pretty easily but it won’t have the same impact (or enjoyment) as reading the whole series.
Definitely Recommended – if you love Rad, and I know you do.
Thank you to BSB and Netgalley for an advance copy for review.