Each book in the In Safe Hands Series by S.M. Shade can be read as a standalone.
Side Note: Since I bundled up the entire series into one big blog post, I’m gonna try and keep each review as short as possible! *fingers crossed* Hope you enjoy! 😀
Book One: Landon
— SYNOPSIS —
I’m not interested. I’m not interested in his blue-green ocean colored eyes, his lean muscular body, or that crooked smile that can be so infuriating. I have more important things to worry about, like how to keep myself in college and my sixteen year old brother fed and sheltered. We all know life is hard, some of us just learn that lesson younger than others, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give up. I intend to succeed and make sure my brother has the opportunities he deserves, and no privileged jerk is going to distract me.
I don’t date. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from celibate, but my condition makes carrying on any kind of normal relationship impossible. My life revolves around In Safe Hands or ISH, the underground hacker group I work with to track down and take care of predators and sex offenders who beat the system. I’m satisfied with my life until the day I meet the smart mouthed, compassionate, determined woman who opens my eyes to possibilities I never thought existed.
This is book one in a series of standalone novels.
— MY REVIEW —
This started off really well but after I reached the halfway mark it fell a bit in my opinion. But the strong start left me invested to see it all the way through. It’s a good opener to this suspense/crime romance series. After being introduced to the rest of the guys in the series in this one, I’m looking forward to reading their stories and the ladies that steal their hearts! (Not gonna lie–some more than others).
I like the idea that these characters are not perfect. They have difficulties and struggles but live with it the best they can. I love that the romance is not your stereotypical damsel in distress where the knight in shining armor comes and saves her from her horrible life. There’s plot twists! Unexpected circumstances that seem to always wanna try and break them apart, and I found myself glued to see how they’ll get around it.
Although, I unexpected found some events in this book a little far-fetched, somewhat rash or downright confusing (IMHO) — but despite that, the ending still left me with a smile on my face and ready to get cracking onto book two!
Landon and Zoe start off on the wrong foot, which sets the two in constant disagreement, miscommunication and all around confusion about their feelings towards one another. They are both unique individuals and their relationship is definitely one of a kind.
Book Two: Dare
— SYNOPSIS —
I hear him.
His deep voice and rumbling laugh. The bang of the headboard slamming the wall and fake screams from yet another woman. Derek is a pile of muscle and ink, a bad boy fantasy only a few layers of wood and plaster away. It’s all I expect or want him to be.
Until that irresistible voice begins talking to me.
I hear her.
The clicking of her fingers on a keyboard, her music or TV playing in the background. Her musical laugh and soft cries of pleasure, accompanied by a low, steady buzz. Ayda is a good girl who keeps to herself, and I have no business pursuing her, but I’m not a man known for doing the right thing.
I’m an ex-con. I’m a criminal.
And I want her.
— MY REVIEW —
I didn’t think I would love Dare (aka Derek) as much as I did after reading this book! I was already curious about him when he was first introduced in Landon, and I was probably most excited to read his story the most. All I can say is Dare takes top spot in the swoon department! How can one guy be so perfect?! Brains and brawn?! C’mon now! Not to mention he first came across as the guy who was probably the “toughest” ass from the bunch–considering he was built, inked and the only one from the guys who’d done time. And yeah he was those things… Buuuuuuuut he was also THE MOST sweetest guy too!
Dare and Ayda are neighbors talking through the wall getting to know each other.
Adya: Who’s self conscience about her looks (after a tragic accident) stays at home most days and keeps to herself. She’s always overhearing her next door neighbour “hooking up” with a multitude of women almost every night.
Dare: Who never does relationships (only one nighters), starts getting curious about his neighbour Ayda, after one day having seen her from a distance and hearing her roam around in her apartment.
They start talking through the wall.. until Dare finally wants to meet Ayda in person.
Ugh! I enjoyed every minute of this book and I am loving Ayda and Dare together so much! My favourite pairing hands down. Their meet cute was fucking adorable I couldn’t stop grinning. Ayda’s story is tragic but the way Dare lifts her up, changes her perspective on things, and gets her out of her shell is what makes their romance oh-so dreamy! Double swoonage!
Book Three: Justus
— SYNOPSIS —
I’m not conceited.
Really, I’m not. It just so happens I have a body a Greek God would be jealous of, and a face that could make an angel weep. Other than that, I’m just your everyday normal guy who happens to take his clothes off for money. Sure, I’ve had to dispose of a few guys for In Safe Hands, the organization I work with that helps track predators and child molesters, but other than that, completely normal.
Women flock to me, screaming and paying for the right to touch me, so why is this woman so stubborn? Sadie Belmont’s curvy body and sharp tongue have haunted me since I met her a year ago. There’s something about her that gets stuck in my head like a bad song, and I’m determined to find out why I want her so badly, and why she can’t stomach the thought.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. Of all the men in the world, I’m taking Justus Alexander to my childhood home in Oklahoma to meet my mother. A stripper who has a revolving door of women jumping in and out of his bed. Nine months ago when I lied to my mother and told her I had a steady boyfriend, I didn’t expect it to come to this. She doesn’t have long to live, and her only wish is to know I have a husband before she goes.
I can’t disappoint her, and male escorts cost way more than I can afford, so when Justus volunteered, I took him up on his offer. I know what he wants. After annoying me with constant pick up lines for a year, he sees an opportunity to get me in bed. It’s not going to happen. I just need to get through this week with my sanity intact.
— MY REVIEW —
With humor like Justus’ I was surprised his book didn’t quite make it to 4 stars for me. He’s such a hilarious character.. and sweet.. when the moment calls for it (hehe). I couldn’t keep the smile off my face whenever he spoke. Lol. I tell ya.. you’ll never be bored with him around! 😀 😀 😀
Like its predecessors, this one pulls you in at the beginning. But this story just didn’t keep the oomph throughout the book. Don’t get wrong–there were moments were it was sizzlingly hot and I was on the edge of my seat. But there were also moments were it just fizzled.
I do like the pairing in this one as much as I did Dare’s. There’s a lot of banter and chemistry between Sadie and Justus – which I think is the winner here and a big reason as to why I almost rated it 4 stars. I love that they were complete opposites. Justus being an exotic dancer, and Sadie being a physical therapist. I thought their story was nicely paced for the majority of the time but nearing ¾ of the way it became abrupt, things fell into place a little too quickly and conveniently for my liking, and next thing you know it’s the Epilogue.
There was one particular scene I wasn’t a fan of at all. I couldn’t really accept it (and not as quickly as Sadie did) but it’s fine. It didn’t deter me from Justus or them having a relationship. I totally glazed over that part and still found it an enjoyable read 🙂
The things that Justus randomly says is snort-inducing! And he’s definitely a contender for most charming. Dare better watch his back! Haha.
Sadie is a great heroine. It’s hard finding a female lead who wasn’t a whiny, nagging, dumb character once they start dating a man. She’s intelligent, caring and selfless. Both Justus and Sadie balance each other out. They’re personalities are realistic and relatable–which are pluses in my book!
Book Four: Tucker
— SYNOPSIS —
She’s driving me out of my mind.
I’ve always done my best to avoid Leah Bolt. I have enough problems without having to deal with a young woman with a crush. My life has been a disaster since I was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the military. After spending a year living on the streets, I’m finally starting to pull things together.
Now, I’m stuck with her, living side by side in my house with my complete opposite. If spending every day with this peppy, optimistic, energetic woman doesn’t kill me, her brother will. Dare is a friend and a member of In Safe Hands, a group that tracks down sexual predators and brings them to justice. He has also done time and is the size of a mountain.
I’ve survived combat, but I may be taken down by a perky blond.
He’s a stubborn, broody jerk.
Tucker Long is every woman’s dream…until you talk to him. He may be sexy when he’s out sweating in the sun with sawdust clinging to him as he hammers and saws, but try to hold a conversation and all you get are grunts and nods.
He was the one who wanted a house sitter and just because his plans fell through doesn’t mean I’m changing mine. My future is up in the air while I try to decide who I want to be, and Tucker’s farm is the perfect place for me to do it. He calls me kid, but the way he looks at me doesn’t lie.
I may be ten years younger, but I can still handle him.
— MY REVIEW —
Tucker is probably a little more darker, a more depressing, heartbreaking story, but was well written. Up until now, we don’t really know much about Tucker. He was a newbie with the In Safe Hands group. He was first introduced in Dare’s book as a homeless ex-soldier until Dare and the rest of the guys gave him an opportunity to work with them to save innocents. Besides a few comments here and there, he kept to himself and his story was pretty much a secret.
In this book his past slowly unravels, and that’s partly because of Leah — Dare’s younger sister who temporarily moves into the farmhouse Tucker’s been living in. The plan was to house-sit for 6 months whilst Tucker leaves to deal with some personal issues. But his plans change and he no longer needs to leave.. but Leah, being stubborn and really needing a quiet place to stay puts her foot down and insists she stays the 6 months they originally agreed on. Tucker isn’t all that happy about it but relents nevertheless.
This is pretty much where their story starts to bloom. Tucker is a recluse. Complete opposite to the outgoing, bubbly and happy Leah. She slowly gets him out of his shell, gets him to start opening up about his past and in doing so starts to develop deeper feelings for him. But something big from Tucker’s old life stops him from pursuing a relationship with Leah, thinking she deserved better than him.
It’s a twisted and heartbreaking reveal. I should warn you guys, whilst all the books have triggers. I have to add that this one had a detailed recollection. It’s brutal and gut-wrenching. Just keep that in mind. But after having reading Tucker’s story, I have a soft spot for him now. I love that he has Leah. And that Leah has him. They deserve a happily ever after after what they’ve both been through in their lives.
A wonderful love story! Although I know I won’t read the depressing scenes in this book again, I will for sure reread all the scenes where Tucker and Leah danced around one another and their feelings. Hehehe.
Book Five (Final): Jeremy
— SYNOPSIS —
For the first time in almost four years, I’m free.
My freedom came at a steep cost, leaving me on my own with no family or friends. I have a lot of healing to do, and this beautiful lake house seems like a perfect setting to find myself again.
I can do this.
The only thing I have left is hope.
For the first time in my life, I’m alone.
I failed to appreciate what I had until it was too late, and now I can’t bear the grief of my friends while suffering my own. That’s not the only reason I’ve relocated.
Twenty-two people were murdered, including the woman I love.
The only thing I have left is revenge.
— MY REVIEW —
Ohh. Another bummer moment for me that this book couldn’t reach 4 stars either. It was a slower paced story which led me to read less chapters at a time–however the interactions between Jeremy and Melissa kept me reading.
Jeremy’s story starts from the conclusion of Tucker’s book. A horrific event occured that’s so relatable to the world’s current affairs. And it’s one that had my shoulders slumping before I could even start this one. It’s a more serious, upsetting story in comparison to the others. I’m just glad the author still managed to add in lighthearted moments, a few laughs here and there, and banter between the guys to keep the spirits up.
This is the last book in the series annnnnnd.. it’s bittersweet. Although Jeremy finally gets his story (and his HEA), I REALLY did wish it was with Frannie.. and not Melissa. 😩
I have nothing against Mel. Let me reiterate that. She’s actually a very likeable character with quite a down to earth personality. But after having read the first four books and seeing the rollercoaster of a relationship Jer and Frannie had throughout.. I was hopeful when it finally came down to his book, they would finally get serious.
Sadly it wasn’t the case. And because of that, partly the depressing start, along with the overall slow pace – it ended up being more underwhelming for me more than anything else.. *shrugs*
Jeremy and Melissa hated each other for a good chunk of the first half of the book. They had the hate-to-love trope down pat. Landon and Zoe have nothing on these guys’ hot and coldness.
Jeremy moved away from the guys to hole himself up in his lakehouse, and drink himself into a stupor after the tragic death of Frannie.
Melissa, after having had her life controlled for years, finally set herself free, and to get a fresh start found herself buying the house next to Jeremy’s. Their first encounter was bad. Second, third and a handful of encounters later were no better. Jeremy’s grieving is making him a jerky asshole. Whilst Melissa just wanted to reach out and make a friend.
But after a mishap and a miscommunication later, it has Jeremy willing himself to get along with Melissa. Eventually, feelings towards one another start developing, but they’re both keeping secrets and hidden agendas–causing them to be hesitant.
The banter was enjoyable to read. The somewhat slow burn romance kept me reading. But what I wasn’t a fan of was the lack of spark between them once they did get together. It almost felt like their relationship was of convenience. They both wanted someone, and were tired of being lonely.
Another book where there was a good buildup in the plot to only be resolved like a press of a button. The ending wrapped up fairly quickly in a cute little package. It left me wanting more, and had me sighing at how fast everything was put into place between Jeremy and Mel.
The overall storyline was alright, and a nice concept. Whilst I enjoyed their story more than Landon and Zoe’s quirky one. I couldn’t feel the swoony love in this book like I had in the previous ones. It’s like they went from hating each other to officially being soulmates. There relationship felt choppy and it just wasn’t gradual enough to make me believe their love was legit within the given timeframe.
But I’ll say this.. If you ever find yourself in an emergency, Jeremy is a good choice for go-to guy! He’ll be there in a jiffy and take care of everything! He definitely has protective instincts and is willing to go above and beyond for family.
I’m glad they found each other after having gone through what they have. But it wasn’t the HEA I would’ve wanted to see. I’m betting others who’ve read his book were quite accepting of this pairing, but I was on board the Jeremy/Frannie train. I shipped them hard! It was tough to grasp that they wouldn’t end up together after all. Ugh.
This was my first dabble at romantic crime/ suspense books, so I have nothing to compare them to, but I thought they was a nice balance of romance, suspense, light and dark throughout each book. What I found worked for this series is the friendship and banter between the guys. Most of the books start out with a love-to-hate storyline–so the romantic development is what hooked me in. If you love them, like I do, then there’s a good chance you’ll find these enjoyable! 😉
Based on the secondary storyline in each book and what the guys do as jobs, all the books have triggers (e.g. sexual abuse, violence and pedophilia). So, please keep that in mind if you’re considering starting the series.
A couple of the books were a little underwhelming in my opinion, so felt like a bit of a rollercoaster ride. But each one left me wanting to continue and read the next story.
I did notice a pattern to the books where the first half really gets you hooked and by the time it hits halfway it slows down. It occasionally drags a little and then you get an ending that’s a little out of the box that you don’t know what to think. But each one had some very fun, enjoyable points. Some more than others *wink wink*
If it wasn’t obvious, Dare and Tucker’s stories were my faves (with Justus coming in third). And as mentioned earlier, each book can be read as standalones–so some things are mentioned in each book to help you grasp each guy’s stories without necessarily having to read their book.
But if you want to see the world-building and the bond the guys have in more depth, then read the entire series in order.
- Quick crime romance reads (with a smidge of suspense).
- Lots of diversity.
- Adorable humor and banter amongst the group.
- Some heartbreaking moments in each story, but all have a HEA!
Overall, I enjoyed the series as a whole. I would happily recommend to friends who enjoy a bit of crime and suspense with their romance! 😊
Overall Series Rating: ♥♥♥¾
Happy reading, guys! For those on holiday mode, hope you’re enjoying yourselves. Catch you in my next one! Xo