Author: Keira Andrews
Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages
At a Glance: Valor on the Move has it all: action, intrigue, romance, and a glimpse at the turmoil and fears surrounding coming out to the world.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.
It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.
Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.
But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?
Review: Keira Andrews’ Valor on the Move is a fast paced and tender m/m romance wrapped up in a mystery full of political intrigue. Like this author’s other works, this story is fairly flawless and the May/December trope is very well written and completely believable.
Rafael is the youngest child of the President of the United States. Having literally grown up in the public eye, and received both its admiration as well as the harsh and almost bullying personal critique that happens to every person in the spotlight, Rafa has remained aloof, exceptionally quiet, and never rocks the political boat like some of his sibling have during their father’s term in office. “Valor,” as Rafa is code named by his security detail, is also nicknamed the “mouse” and rightfully so. Years before, as he was entering college, Rafa’s father took a stand with the Republican Right, who put him in office based on his stance against marriages defined as anything other than between a man and a woman. At that time, on the cusp of coming out to his family, Rafa was devastated to realize he would have to remain closeted, at least until the term of office was up. Using his best friend, who is also a closeted lesbian, as a beard, no one suspected that he was anything other than a “normal” young man with a girlfriend.
When budget cuts predicated that the secret service detail in the White House change so that agents could be assigned to the front-runners in the upcoming election some few months hence, Shane Kendrick finally gets the assignment he had been dreaming of—guarding a family member of the President. While his true goal would be protecting the man in charge, his son would do for now, while Shane continues to move up in the ranks. Openly gay himself, it did not take long for Shane to uncover Rafa’s secret; however, agents never involve themselves in the lives of those they were sworn to protect—it would compromise their effectiveness to serve. But one late night invitation by Rafa morphs into more, and before Shane can even fully understand what is happening, his heart is more than a little interested, and Rafa is head over heels in lust with his Secret Service agent.
Let me begin this review by saying with absolute conviction that this is one of the very best May/December romance tropes I have ever read. With eighteen years dividing Shane from Rafa, and the younger man’s incredible naïveté about relationships, in general, as well as being a virgin, this story had all the potential to be sappy and false. Quite the opposite happens here under the deft and creative hand of Keira Andrews. Instead, we are given a tightly woven action adventure novel, with a tender and evolving romance on the side. Never losing sight of the fact that this is a novel full of political maneuverings and fraught with the danger one associates with being the first family in a world where kidnapping and murder are rampant, Valor On the Move manages to weave both action and romance into an incredibly entertaining story.
Rafa is so intent on just finishing his stint in the fishbowl his life has become that he never accounts for potentially falling in love with the person who has vowed to “protect and serve”. Shane is so busy evading the grief and guilt over losing his parents to a horrendous home fire that the last thing he is looking for is a romantic entanglement with someone nearly two decades his junior. And yet, fate throws these two together and the romance that develops between them is some of the finest storytelling I have ever read. Richly detailed and well researched information on how the safeguarding of the White House members happens, every facet of the inner workings of the Secret Service men and women rang true, lending this novel an air of authenticity that made it even more exciting to read.
The inner turmoil we are privy to as we watch the relationship grow dangerously intimate between Shane and Rafa was so palpable. Rafa could have come off as whiny and just too young despite his age of twenty-two, and yet the strength he has to continue his lie when all he desires is the freedom to live a life free of the closet makes him multi-dimensional and fascinating. The pain he feels over his father’s political betrayal is just heartbreaking to endure as you read how deeply it wounded him and nearly shattered their relationship.
Shane is so lonely, so horribly guilt ridden that the very weekend he was to be with his parents, he chose to pursue his career over his mother’s birthday celebration. When they are lost to a house fire that would claim their lives, Shane is devastated. He carries all that pain and remorse deep inside, so when he promises to always keep Rafa safe, the declaration rings with sincerity and makes the events that unfold in the novel even more realistic.
Valor on the Move has it all: action, intrigue, romance, and a glimpse at the turmoil and fears surrounding coming out to the world. I found this novel to be an outstanding piece of m/m fiction from beginning to end, and I highly recommend it to you.
You can buy Valor on the Move here: