Release (The Protector, #3) - M.R. Merrick So, what’s my barometer for giving a book a 5* review? I haven’t really discussed this with my readers and followers, but the answer is pretty simple. The book has to be one that grabs me from the beginning, has characters that I honestly and truly care about, and keeps me emotionally invested in those same characters throughout not just the first book, but the rest of the series. If that same book or series brings out the ‘Mom’ in me, makes me want to reach through any of my social media networks and shake the author, or if it leaves me in an emotional heap when I’m done I consider it a bonus. Guess where I was at the end of Release?So far The Protector Series has been an emotional, action packed roller coaster ride. Readers were introduced to the amazing world building and characters that comprise the series in Exiled. Mysteries were made clearer, the magic became stronger, allies were strengthened and the world building expanded even more in Shift. Nothing in either of the first two books can possibly prepare readers for what Chase and his crew of family, friends and allies have in store for them in Release.This book had me on the edge of my seat. There were so many twists and turns, more than a few dangerous – almost hopeless moments and some down right craziness that caused me to have a really hard time putting it down. I really had to re-read a few parts – not because they weren’t made clear the first time – it was more like ‘did that really just happen?’ moments that I had to confirm. Trust me when I say that MR Merrick pulled out all the stops and held nothing back for this one.In Release Chase has grown stronger, but that strength is taking an unexpected toll on him. Rayna discovers more about herself and her powers. Readers see a whole new side to Vincent and discover some secrets he’s spent a life time hiding. We get to know even more about Tiki and Willy is as loyal as ever. And yes, Marcus’ timing is still perfect. *cough, cough* There are some new characters thrown into the mix, both good and bad. Speaking of bad guys, they are really, really bad in this series. None of them are more manipulative and pure evil than Riley though. Did I mention that this was one intense read?To be fair, I’m going to give potential readers a little disclaimer. This book is not for the faint of heart. The world building is amazing but it doesn’t even compare to some of the creatures that Chase and his friends encounter in Release. There were some that actually made me cringe and I’m not exaggerating. Then there is the emotional element. *sigh* I’m not even going to elaborate on it because if I do I might let something slip. Besides the fact that Chase pretty much wallows in guilt for the turmoil that those closest to him have to endure, the forces outside of everyone’s control carry an emotional intensity that doesn’t let up until the very end – and not even then. Remember that emotional heap I referred to earlier? Yeah, I was there at the end of Release.If you’re not a fan of cliff hangers, be forewarned. I’m still recovering from the ending. Mostly by what happens in the final scenes but also by what readers are left not knowing. Let’s just say that The Protector #4 – Endure can’t come out soon enough.