"This third book of the 'SWAT' series was a little less mysterious than the first two, since all the shifters now know what the mate trial involves and how careful they need to be when finding their potential mates. Instead, it added some action and serious suspense by making this the story about finding out who is the arsonist trying to burn a building containing several abused dogs. Figuring out who runs this particular dogfighting ring becomes Ivan's focus, and he is the one who gets Xenos, their liaison to the LAPD, involved in helping him infiltrate the illegal group. Of course the LAPD officer Xenos recruits, a narcotics undercover agent named Ryder, turns out to be Ivan's potential mate, the first Ivan has ever met. Ivan is determined to find the perpetrators of the dog abuse their team encountered in the last book. Not just because he personally despises people who could be this cruel, but also because Sax, one of his friends in the pack and a new mate, has real trouble dealing with the thought they are still out there, free to torture more dogs. Ivan has always been alone, and has begun to doubt he even has a mate, so his shock when he finds Ryder may be it for him is significant. The attraction is almost too much for Ivan to resist, but he knows it has to be Ryder's choice, in the end, and he holds back. Ryder is a snarky and sarcastic cynic, who has not only had an extremely harsh childhood, but is about to lose his current job as an undercover narcotics officer. His boss is skimming drugs and money off most of their operations, but Ryder has no proof and doesn’t have enough connections to make any charges stick. So he is about to lose his job when Xenos contacts him. Not one to knuckle under easily, he goes into this new assignment with hackles and fists raised, making sure none of the super-alpha men he encounters could possible accuse him of being weak. The fact that he is insanely attracted to Ivan, the guy he'll be going undercover with, doesn’t make things easier. Ivan and Ryder are both strong alpha characters, and I loved their posturing and ribbing each other. The resulting passion once they admit there may be more attraction than rivalry to their feelings flares up high, and the dynamic once they hit the bedroom is definitely fun and very, very hot. If you like this series with its idea of a "mating trial" to find out if the potential mates are really suited to each other, if you enjoy two strong man learning how to work together both in and out of the bedroom, and if you're looking for a suspense-filled action adventure with two very passionate partners, then you will probably enjoy this novella." -- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
Movement caused him to turn his head. Xenos Harr was walking his direction. No, not walking, striding. With his very blond hair and exceedingly blue eyes, Xenos looked like an Aryan god. Ryder breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn’t been set up. He sucked the air right back into his lungs when he got a look at the guy next to Xenos.
“Holy fucking shit.”
Ryder swallowed hard because if he didn’t, he was going to drool all over his shirt. Whoever that man was, he was walking sex. Ryder got a major stiffy just looking at him. He was as tall as Xenos, but his hair was jet black and longer than it should be if he were an officer. Unless he was undercover. That thought prompted Ryder to wonder if this was the man he was going to be working with. Fuck. If he was, that was bad. Very, very bad. Ryder did not want to be that close to a man he desperately wanted to bang.
Hold up, he told himself. Maybe the guy is a total dick and has the voice of a sniveling weasel. Hot was great for a fast and furious fuck, but a nasally tone would put them back at square zero. Ryder’s gaze dropped to the guy’s bulge. Oh nom, nom, nom. Clearly, the guy was packing heat, and Ryder didn’t mean a gun. Damn. This just wasn’t fair. As the two men got closer, Ryder yanked his gaze up, climbed out of his car, and chanted in his own head have a horrible voice, have a horrible voice, have a horrible voice.
“Hey, Ryder.” Xenos stuck out his hand.
“Xenos.” Ryder made sure his grip was firm but not overly so. He disliked men who used a handshake as a way of displaying their physical power.
“This is Ivan Tang.”
“It’s a real pleasure to meet you.” Ivan lifted his sunglasses to the top of his head, displaying sultry brown eyes that went perfectly with his I-haven’t-shaved-in-a-few-days look. He stuck out his hand.
As Ryder gripped ahold, he thought he was going to pass out. Not only was the guy fucking gorgeous but his voice was nothing short of cock-strokingly good. He also had a strong, lightly callused hand that applied the perfect amount of pressure for a handshake. It wasn’t overpowering or wimpy but just right. Everything about Ivan Tang was flawless. Even his name hit just the right note. I’ll just bet you’ve got a tang to you, Ivan.
“You’re a cop?” Ryder asked, leaning back against his car. In the heavy sunshine of a perfect LA day, the red paint was hot enough to make him reconsider his stance, but he stayed, mainly so he wouldn’t look like a pansy for jumping off too quick.
“I was. I do private security now.”
“And you’re going undercover?”
“It’s complicated.” Ivan looked uncomfortable with revealing the plan to Ryder, but also he seemed leery of the parking lot. Ivan kept looking around. “I’d like to get into this, but I really don’t know about this spot, Xenos.”
“Trust me. There’s no one around.”
“It’s outside in broad daylight. Why can’t we do this at your apartment?”
“Because I don’t like mixing work with pleasure,” Xenos said. “As nice as it was to wake up to you this morning, I don’t want to make a habit of it.”
Ryder felt something in his heart whimper. So Ivan and Xenos were a pair? That put the capper on any plans he had to get warm with Ivan’s form. Ryder’s rule of not stealing things that didn’t belong to him included other guy’s guys. It was one thing to throw down anonymously in a park because there he didn’t ask about details. If the guy was cheating on someone, that was his problem. Ryder didn’t take the liaison beyond that moment. However, if he knew a guy had someone that put him in the not-going-to-happen column tout de suite. Ryder didn’t poach. It was rule number five.
“We can go to the firehouse if you want,” Xenos suggested.
Ivan shook his head, making the sunlight dance over his hair. “I don’t want them involved if I can help it.”
“So you’re a firefighter?”
“No. I live in a converted firehouse.”
“Oh. Okay. Let’s get on with this, guys.” Ryder wanted to know what the deal was. Thinking about a job always put his mind in order. That would be good right now since giving his brain something to chew on other than Ivan would be just about the only way he was going to keep his focus off the sexy man. Ryder Rule number sixteen—focus determines action. If he kept his focus on work, he would keep his actions along that same line.
“Fill him in on the deets, Ivan. I’ve got to take a leak.”
Xenos wandered off toward the rickety fence, leaving Ryder alone with Ivan. Against his best efforts, he found himself checking the guy out again. Ryder wasn’t so sure how he felt about a divine deity, but if there was one, God had worked overtime on putting Ivan together. He was tall, muscular, had those damn devastating bedroom eyes, and seemed to be intelligent, too.
“Xenos told me a little about you on the ride over.”
“Yeah? Makes you one up on me. I don’t know jack about you.” What he said came out way more antagonistic than he intended.
Ivan recoiled. Not a lot, just enough to shift his sunglasses on his head. “You got a problem?”
“No. I love being called first thing in the morning to work with some random dude who lives in a converted firehouse.”
“You’re seriously thinking about throwing down in here while your coworkers and my new boss are out there?” Ryder dropped his attention to Ivan’s bulge. “You’ve got some seriously huge cojones.”
“I wouldn’t say my balls were excessively large.”
“We’re not going to throw down.” Ivan pressed Ryder against the wall. “I’m going to ease your pain so you’ll be nicer.”
“So that’s your motive?”
“It is.” Ivan unzipped Ryder’s jeans and discovered he really had been looking for a fast, meaningless hookup since he didn’t have on any underwear. “Your cock is fucking hard as hell.”
“So’s yours.” Ryder managed to get Ivan’s pants down, and then they were rubbing furiously against one another.
“I can’t even tell you how good this feels.”
“Is fan-fucking-tastic a word?”
“It is now and it fits perfectly.” Ivan hadn’t been with anyone he wanted as much as he hungered for Ryder. Not ever. Maybe it was because he was a potential mate, or perhaps it was the fact that he was snarky, sexy, and surprisingly sweet. Or that he had a body that just wouldn’t quit. “You’re built like a swimmer.”
“Swimmer?” Ryder was panting against Ivan’s neck as they rubbed together.
“All tight and sleek.”
“You’re built like a Serbian god.”
“You know flattery will get you everywhere.”
“Will it get your damn pants off?”
They broke apart long enough to toe off their shoes, socks, and then shimmy out of their trousers. Once his pants were gone, Ryder was back to stroking Ivan’s cock but he added a new layer of sensation by rubbing the sweet spot behind Ivan’s balls.
“Are you quitting on me?” Ryder asked aggressively.
“Not at all.” Ivan had just been enjoying the way Ryder roughly handled him. He liked that he didn’t touch his cock as if the thing was made of glass and might break off. “I was just appreciating your technique.”
“Give some back.”
“Gladly.” Ivan certainly liked that Ryder wasn’t shy about asking for what he wanted. But instead of grabbing a hold of him, Ivan leaned over and sucked the tip of Ryder’s cock into his mouth. He dislodged Ryder’s hands to do it, but he just couldn’t help himself. Sweet pre-cum slid over his tongue. Ryder’s moan of surrender was almost as good as his flavor.
“I’ll never be able to be quiet. Fuck. Get back up here.” Ryder pulled Ivan back up, pushed him against the wall, and then rocked their cocks together.
Ivan lowered his mouth to Ryder’s shoulder, noting that he did the same. Thrusting as hard as they could felt great, but Ivan wasn’t about to let Ryder’s flavor go to waste.
“It’s too dangerous like this.”
“Now you realize that?” Ryder sounded as pissed as he looked. “I’m hornier than I was before.”
“No, not that kind of danger. We’re not stopping. The urge to kiss you is—let’s do this.” Within seconds, they were sprawled across Ivan’s neatly made bed, twisting up the blankets as they moved into a mutually satisfying sixty-nine position.
Rather than tease Ryder, Ivan didn’t hesitate. As soon as they were situated, he sucked Ryder’s cock right back into his mouth. If anything, he tasted even better now that Ivan could get more of him between his lips.
Not to be outdone, Ryder devoured Ivan’s cock in one hungry plunge. When he hit the back of his throat, Ivan uttered a groan that was only stifled by the fact he had a mouthful of dick.
Ryder was in frantic need as evidenced by the way he was surging into Ivan’s mouth. His flavor was almost too good. Ivan hungered to taste all of him. Cupping his hands to his buttocks, he compelled Ryder to thrust harder. To his surprise and pleasure, Ryder did the same to him. Like two well-suited hungry beasts, they consumed one another. Since each of them had his mouth full, they were remarkably silent, but in his head, Ivan was screaming. He couldn’t remember ever having a need for another sparked so suddenly and so violently. It wasn’t that he wanted to hurt Ryder, not at all. He just wanted to know him down to his very soul.
Ivan knew when Ryder was close because he sucked even harder at Ivan’s cock. And then, as if to make Ivan climax with him, he forcefully pressed his finger against Ivan’s hole. Matching him, Ivan realized that if they were to become mates, they would have the best of all possible worlds. Ivan knew some men went only one way when it came to anal sex. They either gave or they got. But he liked both. And it seemed Ryder did, too.