Since I posted the cover blurb a few days ago, I won't re-post it, just jump right into the review.
I have loved Jules since he first came on the scene, what, in "The Defiant Hero"?, and to have him finally get his HEA is a huge deal to this reader. The fact that Jules is gay has never been a problem for me, and I was just as anxious to read his story as I was to finally read Sam & Alyssa's story. While not perfect, "All Through The Night" is still a lovely happy ending for one of my favorite characters.
Some backstory: Jules Cassidy is a well-respected FBI agent who was out of the closet from day one. When Robin Chadwick and Jules first met, Robin was already in the midst of raging alcoholism, brought on by a great many things, least of all the conflicting feelings he had about his sexuality. Just barely getting his life together with an acting career, Robin decides to hang out with Jules in an attempt to understand the gay lifestyle as the character he's playing is homosexual. The more he was around Jules, the more his shell started to crack, until eventually the mutual physical attraction between the two explodes, and Robin can't help but indulge in a forbidden yet satisfying kiss with Jules (Note: a kiss so scorching hot it could put a multitude of love scenes to shame). But Robin's self-destructive habits are still controlling him, making him do several regrettable things, including hurting Jules, who values himself too much to not be happy, and walks away.
Fast forward to book 11, "Force of Nature", when Robin and Jules meet up again. Robin is now on top of the world, one of the most famous movie stars in the world, yet he's still brutally unhappy, pining for Jules but unwilling to admit it, drinking constantly, denying what he knows to be true, veering between aggressively coming on to Jules yet pretending it means nothing. However by the end of the book, after much misery, soul-searching, and life-threatening danger, Robin reaches the point where he can't pretend anymore. After what he's gone through, nearly losing Jules, it's just not worth it, not when the alternative is never being happy. He starts to become the man worthy of Jules, goes to rehab, and stops thinking only of himself. It's a tearful yet wonderful transition to watch, because the reader knows he will probably always be a work-in-progress, like we all are, but he's going to finally be good enough for Jules, who sincerely deserves it. Once Robin accepts his feelings, his true self, he embraces it wholeheartedly, and in a moment that he can't walk away from, declares to the whole freakin' world without a doubt just who it is that he loves.
Now we get to "All Through The Night", and Jules' & Robin's love story. (Because really, that's what it is). Jules is commuting to Boston, where Robin is shooting a cable series, from D.C., and Robin is doing the same from Boston when he can, and the separation is hard on the two men. After finally getting together, it still wasn't enough. Unbeknownst to the other, marriage is on their minds, and Boston is the logical place to settle if that's to happen. In their hearts, that's what they want, and so after some confusion, Robin and Jules get engaged.
Well, this is a Troubleshooters book, so it's not without its share of drama and even danger, not to mention emotional turmoil, a fixer-upper dream house, Sam & Alyssa, and the U.S. President. I wrote earlier how this wasn't a perfect story - after awhile, I was convinced that all the characters were the same person because the exact same slang and catch phrases are spoken by just about everyone in the book - yet I still felt the romance. It would have been nice to have seen more Robin & Jules together instead of through interactions with others, but the underlying core of the story is still the love Robin and Jules have for each other.
As in any SB book, all the world's problems aren't miraculously solved just because two people love each other. Robin stuggles on a daily basis with his alcoholism, proving that even happiness can't keep the demons at bay all the time, and Jules, wonderful, thoughtful Jules, reluctantly acknowledges the possessive jealousy he feels over Robin, a trait that caused friction in previous relationships and one he worries will push his soulmate away for good. But the thing is, Robin and Jules are perfect for each other, and know that marriage isn't going to make everything all better, but as long as they are together, facing those challenges will be a lot easier.
Something I really did love about this book is that finally Jules not only gets the guy, but he gets the recognition from friends and family as just how special he is. Throughout so many of the previous books, Jules' heroism and generous heart towards others has always seemed to go unnoticed, but here, we feel the affection and gratitude his friends and colleagues feel for this amazing FBI agent. Jules has saved lives, both figuratively and literally, and proves what a true friend he is to those in his life. I love that he is not your stereotypical gay man: he's in a physically and mentally demanding job, an extremely important one, and he can be just as alpha as Sam or Max or any of the other heroes we've read about. He's confident in who he is, he's gorgeous but more worried about his looks and his clothes than the safety of those he protects. Jules truly is a hero, and a very special one at that.
I know I'm rather vague in my reviews, mostly because I never want to give anything away, yet if you've been following the series, then this one is a treat to add to the list. Suz uses emotion and doesn't get graphic with the love scenes between Robin and Jules, which is kind of a shame, but it was nevertheless a romantic story. I had happy tears in my eyes throughout parts of the book. Call me a sap, but I sighed with happiness when it was over. And It's always nice to see Sam & Alyssa, and also a bit of Max & Gina, though I really missed Wildcard, Mark Jenkins, Izzy and Decker. And as always, I cannot wait for the next book in the series, with hopefully more Robin and Jules and their beautiful life together.
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****