Return to Zero

Shatterproof Bond #3

by Isobel Starling

The thrilling sequel to "As You Wish" and "Illuminate the Shadows".
Pulled into a world of secrets and lies for the man he loves, Declan Ramsay’s life has changed immeasurably in the eight months since meeting, and falling for his boss’s son, Sam Aiken. Declan journey of personal discovery is about to take a darker turn, and for Sam, the world becomes more treacherous than he could ever have imagined.
Two agents are missing -- presumed dead, while on a reconnaissance mission at an outdoor adventure center in the Scottish Highlands. Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover the fate of the agents.
As the mission offers his first chance to use the skills he learned on the MI6 training course in Morocco, Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that the seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple, as they begin their mission.
The journey to their Highland location, and the discoveries they make when they reach the G’wan Adventures center, prove that Sir James Aiken has been less than honest with his son. Events in the Highlands force Sam and Declan to face their greatest fears, and understand what they both really want from life -- and from each other.

This book is on:
  • 2 Read lists
  • 1 To Be Read list
Reviews:Carra Saigh on Making it Happen wrote:

Oh my goodness… *sigh* and *swoon*

Well, I was hoping for some more action and suspense and I definitely got it here in Return to Zero. This story sees Declan learning more about A.L.L.’s inner workings, and eventually he and Sam get to work together on a mission. Before that comes up, we get more background into the agency as well as more about Sam before he met Declan. Most of the first half of the book moves at a relatively sedate pace (or at least what I would consider sedate), and it’s from the midpoint on that things really grab your attention an have you hanging on for the ride.

Sam and Declan are becoming one of my favorite series couples, and up until now everything has been wonderful between them. There’s a bit of drama thanks to Sam’s father (no surprise there, right?) that does come up here, and we get to see how both men react and still come out strong together in the end. But the real suspense and action comes from an old nemesis from Sam’s past who’s back in the picture-against all odds it seems. And any character that causes Sam to scare…well you know what comes next is going to be good.

The tension and drama really ramps up in the second half of the story, and I found myself staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish this as I just could not put it down without reading the end. There’s so much excitement, and the intensity of the emotions Sam and Declan go through are stunning. The way those final scenes between them are written totally envelop the reader and I found myself simply mesmerized by the exchange of words as they make the true depth of their feelings known. You can’t help but be moved by it, and I felt like my heart would just explode with the power of Sam and Declan’s love and devotion.

And after that ending to the epilogue…PLEASE tell me the next book is ready to go because I’m here absolutely frantic for more.

With a slower start than the prequel and first story but an utterly more powerful finish, Return to Zero was a 4.5-star read for me, and I highly recommend this story and series to M/M romantic suspense fans. This is for readers 18+ due to adult language and explicit M/M sexual content (which by the way is getting more interesting as the series goes on). I can’t wait for Sam and Declan’s next adventure, this series really has me hooked!

Pixie on MM Good Book Reviews wrote:

We follow couple Declan Ramsey and Sam Aiken, who work for Sam’s father’s super-spy agency A.L.L. Declan has now become an agent, although he is waiting for his first assignment, while Sam is trying his best to help Declan as well begins to feel a ghost from his past begin to catch up to him.

This one is high action and adrenaline as well as a good heaping of romance and love that makes you think “nawwww”. Both characters develop more than they have in the previous books put together as Declan and Sam need to find new strength so that they can survive the horrors and the drama that is about to catch them.

As ever, there are plenty of Princess Bride references, which I completely love. Although it doesn’t seem to completely match the characters, I love the fact that Sam calls Declan “Buttercup”.

This is for fans of spy and action type of romances. It is both hot and sweet while the danger increases around them. For those that have read the first 2 books, this is a must to read because we get to find out so much more about Declan, Sam and the world in which they live and it is so completely satisfying.

Kat on Love Bytes Same Sex Reviews wrote:

“Return to Zero” is the action-packed thriller/suspense/romance sequel in the Shatterproof Bonds series. And boy what a thriller this one was.

Back are our heroes/lovers, Sam and Declan. Declan is now fully trained and an active member of the A.L.L. Team. They are now ready to be assigned to their first mission together. A mission that both are prepared for but leery of, and rightfully so. Sir James, Sam’s father – a term I use with great reservations with this man, is sending them off to find out what happened to two of the team’s agents that are missing and presumed dead. But he had to go and throw a wrench into their relationship and shake the very foundation of their trust just before they leave. “Return to Zero” puts all of Sam’s years of experience and Declan’s advanced new training to the test. It is the true test of both their physical and mental abilities along with their personal relationship together.

As I have stated before, in each of the books in the series, I despise Sir James Aiken. He is a ruthless and despicable individual. His homophobic feeling towards his only son is beyond understanding. That he would hate his son’s sexual preference so much that he would put him in constant danger is deplorable. The term “father, dad or da” is way too generous for this man. I understand that he is the leader of an uber-secret spy organization-for-hire. I also understand that he is richer than Midas, super alpha-male macho and wanted his son to be a mirror-image of himself but that still does not forgive him for his actions. My only hope is that, before this series is finished, he sees the errors of his ways.

My biggest drawback with this book, and this is totally on me, is that I had some difficulty deciphering some of the Scottish “brogue”. I have never been around anyone who spoke like this before and, combined with the different terms used “across the pond” and the thick accent, I had some difficulty with what was being said at times. I was also completely lost during the whole technology discussion. For anyone who knows me, I am one of the very least tech-savvy people out there so I was at a complete loss. But that was okay since it didn’t seem to interfere with the over-all flow of the story for me. As for the sex??? Isobel Starling writes some of the steamiest scenes out there. These men never fail to intrigue and surprise me there with their creativity.

I am going to tell you straight up, “Return to Zero” is not the sweet, sexy read that “As You Wish” was. The Shatterproof Bonds series is much grittier, at times, and full of mystery and intrigue as you would expect in a spy series. I have grown quite fond of Declan and Sam. I just wish the author would cut Sam some slack and ease up on him. I don’t think his body or psyche can take much more. Poor Sam! I cannot wait for the next in the series and was overjoyed when I read at the end of the book that she was not done with my guys yet and there is more to come! Great intriguing series.


About the Author

Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

Isobel is currently working on her seventeenth book.  The Shatterproof Bond series is an Amazon Gay Romance bestseller and is being translated into French with Juno Publications, German with Deadsoft Verlag, and Italian with Quixote Edizioni.  The series is also available as audiobooks, narrated by Gary Furlong.

“Fall Together” and “Sweet Thing” will be translated into French by Reines- Beaux Publishing.

Already in audio, narrated by Gomez Pugh, “Silken” is available in German, and will also come out in Italian, and French during 2018.


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