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M. Chandler: Shadow of the Templar: Double Down (Book 2)

So the story continues. Simon and Jeremy are whatever they are and the rest of Team Templar–Springheel, Honda, Specs, Specs Two, and Texas–are the same as ever. Or so it seems.

This book started out with a riot. A laugh riot. I was cracking up almost non-stop through the first few chapters. The focus this time around is a thief whose profile looks an awful lot like Jeremy’s with the exception of two caveats: the guy has sticky fingers for souvenirs of the technological, top secret persuasion and he packs a piece that he’s been known to use. Seeing the overwhelming similarity, Simon has the bright idea to call in Jeremy as a consultant. Not everyone’s too keen on the idea, but with enough finger pointing, cursing and shouting, the whole team eventually falls in line.

Just like the first book, this is first and foremost a great spy-type fiction story. So the obvious nod goes to Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. Even if Chandler isn’t nodding to these classics on purpose, she’s still got my vote; this is totally my kind of fiction.

The awesome banter is alive and well and Jeremy is just a sparkling model of one my favorite kinds of Brits–one in the midst of unruly Americans. In this book we get a 24-hour, rain or shine Jeremy. He’s not all head to toe black, nifty gadgets, and snappy comebacks–he’s a guy with feelings, and some of those feelings are definitely for Simon. And this is so easily seen when he constantly gets those feelings hurt by the very same guy. Every bowed head, every closed eye, and every purposeful stretch of silence is so artfully written that you can’t miss it.

The exchanges between Simon and Jeremy made me cringe on more than one occasion. I know Simon has a conflicting interest when it comes to whatever he’s got going on with Jeremy, but boy does he work overtime on maintaining a certain distance. Some of the things he says… and when Jeremy goes silent or patiently utters “Mm,” the acknowledgement of and resignation to his place is practically palpable. And that he’s not some clingy lover who doesn’t think he can do better makes it all the more painful to read. In any other situation, it’d be an abusive relationship, but because Simon can’t afford to slip up, he keeps his arseholery on blast nearly 24/7. Jeremy gets it, but that doesn’t stop the sting of it. I don’t think love has come anywhere near them, but they certainly care for each other. Rather, Jeremy cares greatly for Simon and Simon cares, but that’s constantly overridden by this liquid state of trust and vague human decency he has when it comes to Jeremy; he shapes and portions them at will, effectively mottling out whatever hint of care could still be detected through his near-constant state of prick. It’s such a complicated thing. Certainly Simon is something of a brute and Jeremy does make a point of pushing Simon’s buttons, but knowing what I know of them and what I know they know of each other, I find it hard to fault them too much for it.

So, when I was bookmarking the chapters in the PDFs, I encountered a glaring absence in the third book. Then, when I got about a third of the way into this book, I read a scene that I had to hold my breath through. I wondered if it had anything to do with my cursory acknowledgement of whatever’s going down in book 3. And it does or at least in regards to the glaring absence. With really good stories, I try my best not to think too far ahead because I don’t want to lessen the tension of those future moments, but sometimes I can’t stop my mind from wandering and speculating. That happened here, but thankfully the first confirmation of my speculations had tension to spare and I had to pause my reading and take a breather. In and around my speculations, if things developed in one direction, I was going to be very interested in seeing how it played out, but if they developed in another direction, the one they actually did, I knew Simon and Jeremy’s relationship was going to be in serious trouble. But I didn’t know it was going to go down the way it did and it hurt so much because of that. I’m a total Jeremy fangirl (though, Specs is my absolute favorite), so I’m just feeling so betrayed. Even though by the end of the book they are on better terms, I don’t think what they’ve got going on is actually all that great. Sure, Simon gets to be his usual self and stew in his frustration and fight against seriously falling for Jeremy and Jeremy gets to be his charming self and further interpose himself into Simon’s personal life, which is where he wants to be, however, all of this is tangled up with the fact that Jeremy is accepting blame, or some of it, for something that was in no way his fault. I have to say that this is the only part I don’t like about the story. It pains me.

Jeremy has been pretty content with his life and fared well enough that he hasn’t become jaded. He understands the position Simon’s in–personally and professionally–so he lets Simon get away with a lot. And I really do believe he is making huge concessions on behalf of the Simon that’s buried under the conflict, the Simon he’s so sweetly smitten with. He doesn’t have to be with Simon, but he really, really wants to, and because he does, I’m willing to make concessions, too. HOWEVER, if Simon goes the whole story without plainly (in his own Simon way) stating his true feelings, whether they end up together or not, I’m going to be so mad! And speaking of the end, I’m hoping that it isn’t one of those where they separate for a long time and then, one day, out of the blue, one of them gets a call and they hear the other’s voice on the line and then it ends. I’m not looking for domestic bliss–though Jeremy would probably be in heaven if he could cater to Simon to his heart’s content, he really gets a kick out of it–but I need a clean break or a definite ever-after.

I’m worried for Jeremy, Simon, Jeremy and Simon, and Simon and his team. It really hit the fan in this one and I’m still taking cover. This series has got me so riled up and I love it. Only one thing for it: book 3.

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