Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: "The Handler" (D.R. Graham)

Think biker ... rough, tattooed, leather, maybe earrings, probably couldn't care less about most anybody.

Then your stereotype is off.

Meet Cain Allen, whose father was a founding member of the Noir et Bleu motorcycle club, under whose protection Cain finds himself after his father is murdered, his mother irreparably scarred, and his younger sister Huck traumatized by a member of a rival gang. Two of the murderers were captured and await trial. One got away, and only Cain can identify him. He's made it his life goal to track down that last killer and achieve total justice for his broken family.

And then he meets the renowned teenage pop star Lincoln Todd --- sexy, sweet, self-centered, talented --- and fate intervenes. In a surprising twist, he finds himself hired as her "handler," to keep her company between shows on her European tour. The more he gets to know her, the more he sees who she really is ... afraid, indecisive, with a messed-up family, loyal, and most of all, lonely.

Cain's top priority has always been to keep his family safe and find justice ... but now, oddly enough, he's got Lincoln to worry about, too. And he's finding that he doesn't mind much at all ...

Let me introduce The Handler, by D.R. Graham, a new release this month from Entangled Publishing's Embrace imprint.

The best part about the story (and there are many excellent components to consider) is the fact that it's written entirely in Cain's perspective, in the first-person point of view. Teen and New Adult romances tend to be written with two perspectives, male and female, even if the sub-genre is suspense/thriller as in this case, but somehow, staying inside Cain's head the whole time works really, really well.

Cain is an engaging character, someone I wanted to get to know more about from the very first page. He's dedicated to his family, especially his sister Huck, and wants nothing more than to find his father's killer ... but, contrary to the way a lot of his colleagues and acquaintances in the biker world work, Cain wants to see justice brought about the right way, if at all possible.

Even his momentary snaps of judgment and conscience in the novel feel justified, especially when his character and integrity kick back in and keep him from doing something stupid.

His endlessly patient, loyal, selfless nature might seem too goody-two-shoes for some readers, but in fact, getting inside his head for the duration of the story reveals that he's just as torn between justice and vengeance, just as tempted by lust as by love, as anyone else. He's not a superhero, off to save the world ... he's got demons, and they plague him relentlessly.

Perhaps that's why he finds himself getting along so well, unexpectedly and entirely to his surprise, with Lincoln, who has her own demons and her own screwed-up upbringing and wild relatives to deal with. She's facing burnout from so many months on tour, giving audiences what they want, doing what her agent wants, and ignoring her own needs.

Watching as Cain reaches outside his own circle to draw Lincoln out of indecision and fear, and into being a more confident, healthy young woman, is as sweet a reward as any this romance could offer.

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Author: D.R. Graham
Title: The Handler
ISBN: 978-1-62266-313-2
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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