Book Reviews

Love and Payne (THIRDS Universe 1) by Charlie Cochet

Genre Gay / Urban Fantasy / Agents/Spies / Officers of the Law / Shifters / Erotic Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 26-March-2020

Book Blurb

Austen Payne, THIRDS Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta and TIN operative, has seen the worst the world has to offer, faced lethal killers, and helped bring down dangerous organizations. But nothing terrifies him more than falling in love. After years of undercover work, Austen is a master at defending himself and protecting his heart… until he meets Osmond Zachary.

THIRDS Defense Agent Osmond Zachary has a huge, doting family, yet something is missing in his life. After meeting grumpy, foul-mouthed, jittery cheetah Therian Austen Payne, Zach knows exactly what that something—or someone—is. Unfortunately Austen seems determined to avoid Zach at all costs.

When Zach foils an assassination attempt, he ends up in the killer’s crosshairs, and Austen is Zach’s best chance at staying alive. Zach hopes the crisis will bring them closer, but Austen has every intention of walking away as soon as the danger is over.

Happily ever after isn’t for guys like Austen, but Zach is determined to show him it can be….

First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, September 2018.

Book Review

I have loved snarky, foul-mouthed Austen from the first moment he appeared in a THIRDS novel, so since I consider myself a genuine THIRDS nerd, I have been desperately anticipating his story. Austen needs love just as much as all the other guys did and I couldn’t wait to see him find it. Of course, the fact that it was Dex and Sloane’s matchmaking that put Zach in Austen’s path didn’t hurt my desire to see it play out as I love those two men.

“If Austen didn’t put an end to this once and for all, he could end up falling for Zach, and when Zach saw, really saw, how messed-up he was, he’d run. And it would break Austen. He’d spent too long protecting what remained of his heart to take such a risk, especially when he knew what the outcome would be.”

Austen didn’t just close himself off to ever caring about anyone again after his parents threw him away when he was eight – no, instead he wrapped his heart in barbed wire and keeps everyone at far more than arm’s length. There are two people he truly cares for – Sloane Brodie and Oswald (Zach) Zachary. When Zach is injured while saving the life of a little girl whose father was targeted for assassination, Austen is at the hospital when two trained killers come to finish Zach off. Austen takes it upon himself to protect Zach and discover why he’s being targeted. But Austen doesn’t factor in the large, very large, bear Therian family Zach belongs to and that’s how Austen ends up in the mountains at the Zachary Lodge with the entire Zachary clan.

It was painful to watch Austen struggling with his demons while surrounded by a very loving family who accepted him for himself. Austen’s personal hell, however, doesn’t allow him to believe anything but the worst about himself, and he is absolutely 100 percent convinced that Zach will hate him if Austen shares his past and all the things he has done to survive. That doesn’t even cover his work as an operative for TIN (Therian Intelligence Network) where Austen often seduces his targets to gain information.

“He’d never felt like he belonged anywhere, always too restless to stay in one place for long. Being here with Zach, welcomed by his family, almost made him feel… normal. Wanted. And that was dangerous.”

‘Love and Payne’ was absolutely everything I hoped Austen and Zach’s story would be. The romance was beautiful, the sex was hotter than hot, the suspense kept me riveted, and the ending was wonderful. Zach is a great character and the big, gentle bear Therian is exactly who Austen needs to show him what it means to be loved. A great addition to the series and I hope there’ll be more to come.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the publisher for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 222 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 26-March-2020
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link