Having spent the entirety of his adult life working for a shadowy government agency, Nathan has little time for a private life. He has work and that’s it. He can seem cold and impersonal to some, but Nathan’s the man who must do the dirty work when no one else can. It’s left him isolated and alone in many ways. At least until Eli Rosten is hired to work in the translations department. Eli is young, outgoing, and perhaps somewhat naive to the realities of the work his organization does. But he finds Nathan fascinating and begins a slow and often subtle courtship of the man. At first, Nathan doesn’t even realize he’s being wooed, but he slowly begins to accept and then cherish having Eli in his life.
For a time, Nathan knows real happiness, perhaps for the first time in his life. Eli brings a warmth and gentleness that he hasn’t known before. But the harsh truth of what Nathan does becomes a wedge between them and Nathan can’t just walk away. Nathan will have decide if Eli is worth everything or if it’s easier to let him go.
Wow. Just wow. Turn was one of those reads that crawled under my skin from page one and I never shook free. The writing is crisp and clean and conveys the depth of Nathan’s isolation from the world with brutal clarity. It’s not a traditional romance and definitely not a traditional HEA, but it’s been a long time since a book so engaged me.
The story is told from Nathan’s point of view and his life is measured by long hours, sleepless nights, and missions that leave him bloodied inside and out. He oblivious to anything that might resemble a life and when Eli is hired, Nathan’s first annoyed, then confused, and eventually captivated by him. His journey towards love is sweet and slow and everything you want in a romance. It’s a little harder to know Eli because we don’t have access to his thoughts, but it’s clear he’s willing to accept all of Nathan’s quirks and that only the job is coming between them.
We never know quite what Nathan does save that it’s the kind of work that respectable people would probably turn away from. Eli is a tad unrealistic with regards to his expectations of Nathan and his work; he knows what the man does, to some extent, from the moment they meet, but I got the impression he was less concerned about the work and more about how it was emotionally destroying Nathan. This couple is the centerpiece of the book and, while their romance is told in flashes and moments, there was more than enough to define the kind of intense relationship they share. And yes, chess does play a part in the story, but I’m going to let that aspect be a surprise for you because there are some really powerful moments that stem from the games being played.
This is one of the better books I’ve read recently and it comes down to the characters. Nathan and Eli are such a strong couple, I found myself reading their story in one sitting. Personally, I hope the author is planning is some kind of sequel so these characters might find a measure of peace, but regardless, Turn is well worth your time, especially if you’re looking for a different kind of romance.