Story Rating: 4 out of 5 paddles
Sting Factor (kink): 0 out of 5
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?
“Valor on the Move” paints a quite believable story about what it might be like to be a closeted member of the first family. Set in the near future, when a conservative Republican Hispanic-American is president, it’s quite easy to understand why Rafa would decide to keep his orientation a secret, at least until his lame-duck father is out of the White House.
Things do get quite “complicated” when Shane is rotated into Rafa’s protection detail. The possibility of a relationship between the two men is wrong on so many levels. Emotional entanglements would make it almost impossible for Shane to do his job, not to mention getting him fired. Then there’s the age difference, which would make things difficult in even the best of circumstances. For Rafa, it puts everything he has worked for in jeopardy. He runs the risk of becoming the center of public attention, which is exactly what he has been avoiding for almost eight years.
For a while, at least, this book seems to be one of those stories that’s going to simmer along to a slow boil until one of the characters’ has their hand forced. In large part, that is what happens, but the fallout from the pivotal scene sends the plot in an entirely unexpected direction, and turns the latter half of the book into a real page turner. It’s quite a surprise and very deftly handled.
Story-wise, “Valor on the Move” is a very well-crafted romance. However, when it comes to kink, well, there isn’t any. This is, by no stretch of the imagination, a BDSM story. The few scenes between the characters, which come very late in the story, are basic vanilla sex. You’ll want to read this one for the story, which is quite a good one.
Reviewed by Michael Joseph