by Melanie Moreland
Melanie Moreland is an author who can take even your least favorite story trope and make magic with it. ‘Second chance’ stories are not typically a favorite of mine because … well, just because I don’t really like them. I read this one anyway because I was intrigued by one of the lead characters. Plus, the author is so good I’ve never read a book of hers that I didn’t like. I’m glad I took a chance on it. I encourage you to always take a chance on reading things you wouldn’t typically read. You just might discover a great book you would have missed.
“The Commander” is the third book in the ‘Men of Hidden Justice’ series. You can read and enjoy it as a standalone, but if you’ve read the other books in the series then like me, you’ve been hoping Julian would get his own book. If you’re not yet familiar with the series, Hidden Justice is an organization that operates in the shadows, tirelessly working to eliminate despicable predators from the world.
Julian is The Commander. He controls the operations of Hidden Justice mainly from his office behind the scenes. As a cover for the secret organization, he also runs a private security company. Maintaining his facade, Julian has a part-time secretary for just the security business. He makes sure the job is boring and only hires older women who aren’t curious the last, separation time about anything outside of their tasks. His secretary is retiring and he’s hiring a replacement, never expecting a beautiful woman in her 20s to show up for an interview. Taliyah had secrets of her own, gradually revealed as the story progresses. Julian and Taliyah try to ignore the attraction between them, but it’s like nothing neither of them have ever experienced before. Everything is going great between them until lies, and lies at the mission, literally blow up in their faces.
There is some intense drama, and emotions that run high. Forgiving yourself and learning to forgive others are important parts of this book. To me, it was also about how doing the right thing is not always doing the same thing; it can require introspection and change. Julian and Taliyah were both good characters, but I especially respected his determination and capacity to grow. Taliyah does something drastic, and I had a harder time forgiving her then he did, I think. Some of the solid secondary characters may be familiar to you because they appeared in previous books. Additionally, there are a few important characters who play important roles in the story, even those who don’t speak much. The epilogue was wonderfully satisfying, and left me still wanting more stories about Hidden Justice.