A Reason To Stay - R.J. Scott
This is a 3.5 star review

A Reason to Stay is a spin-off of R.J. Scott’s successful Sanctuary books. I am the unique position of not having read any of that series. This book references characters from the previous series, but quite easily stands alone. The man referenced in the title, the one who needs a reason to stay home with his family and the man he loves but left, is Viktor. He is a career Navy SEAL who couldn’t wait to leave his small hometown as soon as he graduated from high school, and dive into the deep end of excitement and danger, courtesy of the Navy. He lives for the danger and adrenaline rush. During his down time, he drinks and has indiscriminate sex with men or women, whomever is available, instead of heading home to see his sister and fatherless nephew. He isn’t a believer in love and won’t, or can’t, make commitments. The man he left in his dust alongside his family is Aiden. He is a deputy sheriff in their hometown, and he harbors dreams of love and marriage, particularly with Viktor.

A Reason to Stay starts with Viktor recuperating at his sister and thirteen year old nephew’s house after a bad knee injury. When he and Aiden meet for the first time in over a decade, the old sparks continue to fly, proving that both of them still feel the strong attraction they had in high school. As Viktor recovers, he and Aiden rediscover their compatibility between the sheets. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only place they are compatible. After several weeks, Aiden makes the same mood-killing mistake he made many years ago; he tells Viktor he loves him. As with the first time Aiden said those words, Viktor goes running off to the Navy.

Two years later, Viktor’s nephew is found injured a short distance from a dead body, in the forest on the mountain in his home town. Fortunately, Viktor is in the US and quickly arrives to support his sister and parents. There’s a mystery going on as to why the nephew was out that late at night, and what he was doing on the mountain during a snow storm. Aiden is investigating the murder and Ben’s injuries and Viktor is, of course, butting in. He calls his connections at Sanctuary for help and tactical support. He is going up that mountain to investigate, no matter what anyone tells him. Including, and especially, Aiden.

When Ben regains consciousness and tells Viktor what he remembers, that’s Viktor’s cue to head up the mountain. Aiden tries to talk him out of it but realizes he can’t, so he decides to go with him. What their investigation uncovers at the top of that 3800 foot mountain is surprising to Aiden but not to Viktor. The climax of the book, and also their investigation, is fraught with danger and is very exciting to read. It takes all of the skill and cunning that they both possess to get out of harm’s way and back down the mountain safely. Viktor, following his pattern, returns to the Navy as soon as he’s able. This leaves Aiden following his own pattern: wondering if Viktor’s ever coming back.

Sometimes heroes are morons. They will face any manner of danger: bullets, bombs, killer mountains, but then run as fast as they can from commitment. I liked the relationship that Monika and Viktor had and the way that Viktor stepped in as a father figure for Ben. That seemed to be the extent of the commitment he was capable of. It was the only way we got to see that he even had a softer side. Him in the hospital holding his sister while she slept actually brought tears to my eyes.

Aiden was way too patient with Viktor, in my opinion. I think Aiden should have given up on Viktor’s overly macho self when he left, once again (!) after recovering from his injuries, and hung his hat up with Sam. Although this outcome does leave Sam up for grabs in a future book. Just sayin’.

I enjoyed A Reason to Stay, for the most part. I think it just leaned too easily on stereotypes. The characters themselves were easy to read, if stereotypical. The plot dramatic, though predictable. There also seemed to be a lot of almost-Britishisms. I know I made that word up, but there were many references that weren’t wholly American English, nor were they wholly British. I imagine it’s difficult to write for a foreign readership, but I believe Ms. Scott has enough experience at this point to more clearly differentiate between the two and not just combine them. It made it a little difficult to read. This is a must read for the many R.J. Scott fans out there. For newer readers, there are many of her other books that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Reviewed by Tina at The Novel Approach