Review: In From the Cold (The CASTOFFS #1) by J.T. Rogers

A Robert Flynn Novel

Robert Flynn abandoned a sterling military career when his best friend and fellow soldier, Wesley Pike, died under his command. More than a decade later, Flynn’s quiet life is disturbed by the troubles of a fledgling CIA and Alexander Grant, a flashy agent with a lot to prove. As the space race between the United States and the Soviets heats up and the body count rises, the two men fight to find common ground. Grant knows Flynn believes in the cause, but all Flynn sees is the opportunity to fail someone like he failed Wes. An attack by a Soviet agent spurs Flynn to action and a reluctant association with the agency, and tilts Flynn’s world on its axis with a shocking discovery: Wesley Pike may be alive and operating as a Soviet assassin.

With Grant to bankroll the operation, his superiors looking the other way, and Flynn’s hard-earned peace officially forfeit, Flynn reunites his old team with the singular goal of finding Wes. But they get more than they bargained for—Wes is amnesiac and dangerous, brainwashed into becoming the perfect weapon. Flynn struggles to reach his friend, lead his team, and navigate his charged relationship with Grant—something neither of them expected and aren’t sure how to parse—while coming to grips with his long-buried feelings for Wes.

Quietly compelling.

This isn't one of those books that hooks you in with a lot of explosions, gun fights or car chases and to be perfectly frank it started off a little slow for me, but the more I read the more engrossed I became in this story. It kind of snuck up on me and finished strong.

Robert Flynn is a good egg, though perhaps a little on the serious side. He's kind to people. He's straight laced, folds his clothes, makes his bed every morning and I'm positive a quarter could be bounced from it before he heads to the bakery he runs in Brooklyn at some ungodly hour every day. And he apparently looks like Brando...

GOOD LAWD! I'll take 2 of whatever you're baking.

A man that can bake AND is good people? *stumbles*

He was the Captain of the Devil's Brigade, a coalition force formed during WWII between the US and Canada which heralded the beginning of special forces. A mission went awry and he lost his best friend over enemy territory, something he continues to blame himself for years later. 

Events transpire and he finds himself cooperating with the CIA and his best friend might, in fact, not be dead. So he enlists his old team (who are a hoot!) to see if they can track down one of their own. The history of the Forcemen and specifically of Wes and Flynn are told through flashbacks from both of their perspectives.

I don't want to go too much into the events because as the narrative unfolds and becomes more complicated is something everyone should experience for themselves. I will say for a debut novel and the beginning of a series no less, I am impressed by the writing style and how invested I now find myself. It's smart and captures the era of post-WWII/Cold War really well not to mention the gravity of the space race to both the Americans as well as the Soviets. I kind of love this era, mostly the lingo and fashion rather than the oppressive ideals. I've watched The Right Stuff a kajillion times and just how important intelligence and the race to get to the moon first was during this era tends to be forgotten as time has passed, but it was a big fucking deal. That the author did her research and captured that urgency shows on the page.

The romantic elements of this story develop gradually and I have to say Flynn has the worst taste. OMG! Grant is married with kids and a spook. Never trust a spook. I'm sorry but I still don't trust this cat. And Wes is a (possibly) former Soviet assassin with amnesia and twitching trigger finger. Flynn needs to go back through the picker line because his is faulty. This love triangle may kill me to death before it's said and done.

The smexy factor is minimal with mostly fade to black scenes. Good kissing though. But there is a shaving scene that gave me goosebumps. It's reminiscent of the hair washing scene in Out of Africa. I love that scene. It's understated but the depth of feelings are front and center.

The narrative gained traction as it progressed and by the end I already knew I'd be reading the next one in the series. The mission completes but the state of Flynn's romantic life is still up in the air. 

Recommend for history buffs and fans of slow burn, complicated romances.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads and DSP Publications.

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