Valorous is the second book in the Quantum Trilogy by MS Force, about the romance between shy ingenue, Natalie Bryant and movie star (and secret BDSM kinkster) Flynn Godfrey. I reviewed the first book, Virtuous, here recently.
Note: Spoilers for Virtuous follow. These books do not stand alone. They have to be read in series order.
At the end of Virtuous, the press had gotten hold of the story that Natalie Bryant’s former name was April Genovese and that she had been raped at age 15 by the then governor of Nebraska, Orin Stone. After a sensational trial, Stone went to prison for 25 years – but was himself sexually assaulted and then killed shortly after he began his sentence. Natalie’s parents (mainly her father – her mother was pretty much controlled by him, it seems) abandoned her for reporting the rape because reasons and ever since, Natalie has been alone.
When Valorous begins, Natalie has just been fired from the Emerson School for lying on her background check (she didn’t disclose her former name) and is devastated. Flynn feels guilty because it is his fame which caused the press to be so interested in her in the first place. He whisks her off to LA for some relaxation and recovery in the sun.
At this point, they have known each other for approximately one week. By the end of week two they are married. If you got a bit of whiplash there, I don’t blame you. I know I did. I do question the emotional IQ of characters when they act so rashly. Natalie and Flynn have only just begun their sexual relationship. Natalie is still suffering from PTSD from the events of eight years before and they barely know each other. Add to that, Flynn is a Dominant but he feels Natalie would never be able to handle that kind of relationship so he decides he will shut off that part of himself and never tell her. So, yeah, that sounds like the recipe for a healthy long-term relationship doesn’t it? *eyeroll*
In fact, at one point my eyes just about rolled all the way out of my head because on their wedding night, after Flynn holds Natalie’s wrists down when they are making love, Natalie has a flashback. The next day she is “impatient” that Flynn is being tentative with her sexually. Even after she acknowledges that she has had eight years to learn how to deal with flashbacks and he has had ONE DAY, she still thinks he needs to hurry up and get over it already.
If one can overlook the telescoped timeline however, there is still a lot to enjoy in the story. The narration helps tremendously. Both Brooke Bloomingdale and Cooper North do a great job. The more I listen to Mr. North, the more I appreciate his skills. Both of them make the most of the material and don’t overplay the emotion (really, there is plenty of that contained within the text).
Unlike Virtuous however, Valorous does not end in a HFN. *spoiler alert* – Natalie has what, in all the circumstances, I consider to be a vast over-reaction to Flynn lying to her about his kinky side and she flounces off to “think”. As I am constitutionally unable to cope with non-HEA endings this meant I was obliged to commence listening to Victorious immediately thereafter.
There are definitely parts of the story which I feel are underdeveloped and pretty much everything is just too darn fast. That said, the books take a detailed view of a fairly short space of time so for those listeners who like to know everything, there’s plenty. Personally (and I said this about Virtuous too), I think the series would have benefited from a less detailed view and taking a little more time to let the story play out more organically.
There’s more sex in Valorous but most of it is not of the kinky variety. That said, Flynn’s decision to shut down his Dominant side fails pretty much immediately because he is instructing her as to safewords (for worthy and not self-serving reasons it must be said) very early on and he just can’t help being bossy in bed. In my view, Natalie, albeit unknowingly, was already doing some light D/s play with him so why Flynn would think she’d be absolutely not interested, no-way, no-how, never quite made sense to me.
Both Brooke Bloomingdale and Cooper North deliver the intimate scenes well. More explicit language doesn’t phase them and they keep the sex from sounding smarmy or purple. Both narrators differentiate between main characters – and the predominant secondary characters too – very well, and even though my eyes were often rolling around in my head, the narration held my interest and I was happy to keep going.
I’m not so bound up in “must have HEA” that I’d have started listening to Victorious if I’d been hating Valorous. I suspect a large part of my enjoyment is with the narration. Even so, notwithstanding the OTT nature of the plot and timeline, there is something engaging about the romance between Flynn and Natalie. It’s just the suspension of disbelief required is fairly high so listeners should consider that before deciding whether the series might be for them or not.
However, for high angst, insta-love of the true and enduring kind, a hero who is totally gone over the heroine and determined to put her first in all things, Valorous delivered on the feels. The narration is superior and as it happens, that made such a difference to what I was prepared to let pass.
Book Content: B-
Steam Factor: For your burning ears only
Violence Rating: Trigger warning: (off page) rape
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: MS Force
Valorous was provided to AudioGals by MS Force for a review.