Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
There is this sound on TikTok that goes “I’ve been waiting for this…” and TikTokers far and wide begin dancing to this beat that is driving and edgy. In that aftermath of those words, some TikTokers even expose secrets to anyone who passes their TikTok page. As I finished Lexi Blake’s No Love Lost, that sound kept circling in my mind because, like these TikTokers, I was ready, no…panting, for No Love Lost, the last book (I think) of her Masters and Mercenaries off-shoot with The Lost Boys. There have been so many personalities and stories in this spin-off and its predecessor that, at times, you feel a little “lost,” so to speak. But make no mistake…for this reader, Kim Solomon and Beckett Kent, were not lost to me. I have been wanting their story because Blake set the stage for the most perfect second chance romance.
Here’s the thing with these two. For one, Kim is my favorite type of heroine: she’s strong, independent, resilient, and she takes the crap thrown at her from the alpha-men in her life and she turns it into spun gold. What this does is tug at your heart. As Beck and Kim verbally spar with each other, and he throws emotional darts at her soul, your heart bleeds for her. You cannot help but become emotionally invested in a female character who does not deserve the treatment weighed upon her. Blake deftly makes her appealing to the reader while her power is lost to the other characters. In No Love Lost, Blake adds vulnerability to her character construction, and you become lost in Kim’s journey. In other stories in this series, you don’t truly know Kim’s secrets. In this book, Blake divulges them spectacularly, and it’s like a fireworks show. As her secret-knower, the reader becomes invested in this book, and you can’t help but read it to the very end because, quite frankly, Kim deserves a happy ending. Even more, Blake doesn’t make it easy for her readers to get there because Kim has been burned over and over again, so becoming vulnerable requires a mighty act to shed her Teflon armor. And for this reader, that psychological pilgrimage is painful and insightful and glorious.
Add Beck’s journey to Kim’s story, and the emotions become heightened. There is more of the tension between these two that we’ve read in earlier stories, but this time, something productive occurs. I think that’s what I loved most. Beck recognizes his shortcomings and actually takes action in this book. After reading his apathy towards Kim in past stories, it was revelatory to read a story where his emotions could not be contained. It ingratiated you into their story because you wanted them both to recognize their deep, abiding love for each other. What I also loved about this story was the revelation of Kim’s sense of identity in Beck. She’s so very strong, but her sense of self is aligned with Beck’s belief in her. And that feels grounded in reality, not fiction. To see that spelled out in Blake’s story made it substantive.
Add to that a compelling story. One of my favorite villains to hate needed to be dealt with. And Levi earns his comeuppance in No Love Lost. Mix in past characters, and this story is “old home” week to the max. Sprinkle in Blake’s brand of romantic suspense plus a big plot shift, and you’re lost in the pages of this book. There is a feeling of nostalgia that befalls you at the end of it, a mourning for the stories of The Lost Boys, but there is also a promise for more stories with new characters (and the return of old ones) in the Masters and Mercenaries universe.
I am exceedingly THRILLED with No Love Lost. From an intentional, stalwart, tenacious heroine to a hero who finally figures himself out to a story that compels you forward towards its ending, this book will engage you, entertain you, and leave you wanting more.
In love and romance,