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REVIEW: Ryder’s Guardian (Maiden Voyage #1) – TL Travis and Ann Lister

Ryder's Guardian - TL Travis & Ann Lister

Genre: Contemporary, Rock ‘n Roll

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: HL

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About The Book

For Maiden Voyage guitarist, Ryder Hampton, life is great. He and his bandmates are embarking upon an epic European double headlining tour with their friends from Social Sinners with the band Embrace the Fear opening for them.

Since joining Maiden Voyage in his twenties, Ryder’s life has been a whirlwind of the cliched, “Sex, drugs and monumental doses of Rock ‘n Roll. And he’s loved every minute of it from the sold out shows to the revolving door of bed partners.

Max Hightower has always been a team player. Whether it was working with his team in the Marines or now with the private security company, Ventura Security. These days, his job was to have the backs of a band of musicians. One band member in particular he’d allowed to get too close and now emotions were involved.

Ryder Hampton had left his mark on Max’s closed-off heart and now Max’s job was in jeopardy. Falling for your principal wasn’t safe – nor smart. Neither was missing the mark on protecting him and now Max was guilty of both. The security detail he’d begged his boss for had turned out to be the one that could ruin him and shatter his heart too. Max couldn’t allow either option to happen.

Maiden Voyage series must be read in order as each book starts where the last one ended but is from another band members point of view:

1 – Ryder’s Guardian 
2 – Derek’s Destiny
3 – Jaxson’s Nemesis
4 – Shadow’s Light

The Review

Ryder’s Guardian is the first book in the Maiden’s Voyage anthology series, with each entry in the series focusing on a different member of the Maiden’s Voyage rock band. Book 1 focuses on Ryder, the lead guitarist of the band, and his intense relationship with bodyguard Max Hightower.

The band Maiden Voyage is on a worldwide tour, and they are taking a security team with them. Max Hightower takes his job seriously and does it well, so naturally he is thrown in for a loop when Ryder – the ‘brat’ of the band whose life has been about sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and a revolving door of sexual partners since he joined Maiden Voyage – spontaneously kisses him after a performance. So begins the two men’s intense attraction and draw to each other. Max has a job to do but he finds himself torn between professionalism and his burning desire for Ryder, while Ryder – who has a difficult past and has always avoided commitment – can’t stop wanting Max in return. 

Band-romance is a new sort of sub-genre for me that I decided to take a chance on, and it was definitely an interesting experience. I am usually more drawn to fantasy/sci-fi, so this was certainly a departure from the norm – but one I was pleased to try out. I read Ryder’s Guardian very quickly. It has an easy style and a seductive fast pace, and it was an overall enjoyable read. The authors have done a phenomenal job of weaving their styles together, to the point where it really does feel like it was written by one voice for the alternating first-person POV chapters.

Because this sub-genre is new to me, I don’t know much about the (cutthroat?) world of rocker bands and the dangers involved going in, so I wasn’t sure how much to buy into the level of protection offered to Maiden Voyage or how much disbelief to suspend for the setting and circumstances the band and characters get into. Nonetheless, it served as a decent set-up for Ryder and Max to meet and fall in lust at first sight.

I appreciated the normalised queerness of the setting and loved how the dynamics between the band members were full of natural friendship chemistry. I did find it odd that there were absolutely no female characters in the book at all. Aside from Ryder’s neglectful and abusive mother, the book gives the impression that women either don’t exist or are not worth mentioning, which was a shame. I think a few named female characters in the background would have made this a more dynamic world, and on a personal level, would have helped me differentiate between the numerous side- characters… I kept on getting all of the “he’s” all mixed up until about halfway through the book!  

I did feel that Ryder was far too immature for an adult, but there is a backstory to explain his personality. I wasn’t always sure what the emotional draw was between Ryder and Max – but the sexual chemistry between them was so raw and intense that I absolutely bought their intense physical attraction. The romance and love scenes are where this book shines. The sex scenes between Ryder and Max were extremely well-written – full of heat and crackling sexual chemistry. 

I don’t personally understand what Ryder found so endearing about the pet-name “brat”…but he seemed to like it, and by the end, I was just happy for him and Max to have earned their HEA together. 

If you like hot guys, boy bands, tough bodyguards, and bit of action amidst the smut, then you’ll have a fun time with Ryder’s Guardian

The Reviewer

H. L. is a Jewish Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.

She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.

She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.  

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