Gay American Dom with a fabulous sub juggles romance and bondage with Scotland Yard police work.
Book 1 in the the Vasquez Inc series, spinoff from Vasquez and James.
When Brian Harrison first met Jackie Vasquez at a Hawaiian wedding, Jackie was sixteen and troubled. Six years later they meet again; Brian’s career at Scotland Yard is budding with promise, while Jackie’s student days at the University of Nebraska are rolling toward a strong finish. Magnetic mutual attraction pulls them insistently toward one another, but the ocean separating their lives makes for a simmering romance.
When the waiting ends and they get together for a weekend in Denver, Dom Brian and sub Jackie both know they’ve tapped into something scalding hot, and much deeper than sharing an artful session. Shibari, lust, and love are all on the agenda -- but for Brian, so is his police career, and a strange series of crimes seems poised to threaten their romance -- and maybe their lives.
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Publisher: Changeling Press
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Badass Hero, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Rescue
Word Count: 45,000
Setting: Olmpica Peninsula, Nebraska, Denver, London
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Port Clifton’s shops yielded gifts for Brian’s hosts: a huge bouquet of red and white lilies accented with ferns, salal, and baby’s breath; a six-pack of Full Sail Amber Ale; a bottle of 2009 La Lagune, Haut-Médoc -- a fine cabernet from France, the merchant said -- and Batdorf and Bronson’s Sulawesi Toraja coffee, which the label promised to be earthy and sweet with hints of pineapple and black pepper. He hadn’t planned on so much, but he hadn’t been able to decide if Sonny would love the rich colors of the flowers more, or his favorite ale, or if Luki would get more pleasure out of the fine French wine or a special coffee. He knew it could be seen as an embarrassment of riches, so to speak, but he hoped his friends would understand.
As he approached the door, he faced the more immediate problem of how to knock while juggling it all, but he needn’t have worried. Sonny must have seen him stumbling from his car, and he swung the door wide just as Brian arrived.
“Come in,” Sonny said, and calmly unburdened him, laying the presents carefully aside so he could wrap his long arms around Brian in an enthusiastic hug, which he obviously considered a proper greeting. He let go and backed away a step. “Good to see you!”
The wonderful thing about Sonny, Brian thought, was that he never would have said such a thing if he didn’t really mean it. Brian’s own smile grew, and he nodded. “You too,” he said. “I brought you flowers and beer.”
“Thank you!” Sonny laughed. “Such wisdom in one so young.”
“And coffee and wine for Luki,” Brian added, having no idea what else to say or why he was stating the obvious.
Luki strode up just then, apron clad, and chestnut curls -- sprinkled now with silver, Brian noticed -- in disarray. “Perfect,” he said. “What Sonny said -- wisdom!”
Luki’s face seemed so familiar yet transformed somehow. He didn’t grin, but he smiled a little, and joy fairly danced in the pale eyes that most often used to seem so cold. Brian knew Luki had survived a nearly fatal bout with lung cancer -- in remission less than a year -- and he thought maybe that had given him some gift of contentment. But after Luki thanked him and gave him a quick hug, Brian saw his gaze settle on Sonny, and he recognized that the true source of Luki’s joy was his husband, and the love that had deepened through the years they’d spent together.
Distracted by the familiar wave of envy he always felt in the presence of this couple, wishing he could somehow express it, Brian missed much of what Sonny said as he followed them to the kitchen. He tried to marshal his attention back to the present, and caught Sonny saying he didn’t think he’d ever seen lilies so red. Brian nodded, and murmured agreement, but then he caught movement out of the corner of his eye.
He turned toward the motion, and there stood Jackie Vasquez. All grown up -- and apparently fresh from a shower. December sun poured through a window at his left, and it lit the red in his hair, making it smolder despite being darkened with damp. Brian hadn’t noticed before that Jackie’s gray eyes were like a warmer version of Luki’s blue, very pale, and similar in size and shape. Perhaps it was a trait traceable to Luki’s father -- Jackie’s grandfather. But there the similarity stopped. While Luki’s pale eyes shone in contrast to his brown skin, Jackie’s somehow harmonized with his pale, dark-haired, dark-freckled coloring. The effect, though, seemed to Brian no less singular.
After a few seconds, Brian realized that while he had been standing there silently analyzing the evidence of a common gene pool between the two remarkable-looking men, Jackie had actually been speaking to him.
“Jackie,” Brian said, then thought to add, “Um, it’s good to see you again.”
“You seem surprised.” Jackie absentmindedly scratched at the center of his chest, which was bare and still damp, and where fine russet hairs formed a diamond between healthy, smooth pecs that clearly belonged to a man. Nothing boyish remained in Jackie’s physique, though he still had what might be called a boyish smile, or youthful, at least.
“Yes,” Brian nodded. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I had no idea you would be here.”
Luki spoke up. “We didn’t expect him to be here, Brian, or I would probably have mentioned it on the phone. He was supposed to fly out yesterday.”
“I got bumped,” Jackie explained, and shook his head, apparently unhappy with the airline. “So the uncles agreed to put up with me for another day, and Sonny said he’d drive me to the airport tonight.”
Brian felt a little tongue-tied, which wasn’t a familiar feeling at all. He nodded.
Jackie squinted and cocked his head to the side. “I mean it, though, Brian. I’m glad to have a chance to talk to you. I… I don’t remember things clearly from… but I know you did a lot, and I’ve always wanted to thank you in person.”
That shook Brian’s tongue loose, and he said, “Jackie, there is nothing at all for you to thank me for. I’m glad I was there and was some help. I’m grateful you came through okay.”
Brian saw color rise in the pale skin between the freckles of Jackie’s cheeks. Jackie bit his bottom lip -- very reminiscent of his Uncle Luki -- and then looked away. He glanced back, said, “Well, I’d better put clothes on… I mean, a shirt… You know.”
Brian heard Sonny giggling. A delightful and always unexpected sound.
“Hurry up, Jackie,” Luki said. “Food’s on the table.”
Tajuana Munday on Goodreads wrote:
This story is full of intrigue. Our heroes, Brian and Jackie, fill these pages with enjoyment. The mystery didn’t stop just because this particular book ended, no, it simply whet your appetite for more. The characters were extremely well written and the story very well told. The conclusion, though it left me frustrated because I wanted more, which to me is an excellent sign of a good book, it heightened my desire for the next in this series.
When Lou Sylvre originally offered a ARC of this book for her fans in her Facebook group Sylvre Linings I wasn't going to take her up on it because I had read the original release of "A Shot of J&B". (Which I loved) FORTUNATELY I had sense enough to ask if she had changed anything, or added new content to this version! To which she replied that this version was a greatly expanded version of ONLY the first half of the original, (which was written in 2 parts, you can see this in the blurb of the original found in Goodreads) And that there will be a expanded version of the second part in a follow up book. So of course I opted to throw my name into the hat for the ARC at that point. (The original Kindle edition was a total of 224 pages for the entire book. THIS edition, only covering part one of the original is 158 Kindle pages long! Do you think Lou will fit the next book, covering part 2 in the remaining 66 pages? NO! This shows how much more information she has added to this part of the story!)
That being said... I think I need to do a 2 part review here. I review for those readers who, like me, HAVE read the original, and a separate review for those who HAVEN'T. (*note: You do not need to read the original book in order to enjoy this one. However if you want to know more about Jackie and Brians background stories which are alluded to in this book, I do recommend reading the 3 book omnibus "Vasquez and James, vol.1" prior to this.)
For myself I would give this book a 5 star rating, but because it may draw readers new to the stories, who may find it a bit confusing, I am only giving it the 4 star rating.
For those readers who HAVEN'T read the original:
This is a beautiful love story between 2 men who reconnect after nearly 6 years since their original very brief meetings. (this book includes the first meeting, and mentions the events of the second meeting, which is told in the Omnibus story Finding Jackie).
In this story Brian is a well defined Dom, (more into Shibari bondage than inflicting pain), with enough experience to make him well able to perceive the needs of each individual sub he encounters, and the care and ability to be able to fulfill those needs.
On the other hand Jackie knows he's a sub at heart, but doesn't have much experience, (has no knowledge of Shibari) and so hasn't defined his needs for himself yet. He really wants to explore this with Brian, as well as getting to know Brian better, who he's been crushing on since their first meeting. (Brian also hasn't been able to get Jackie out of his mind since then either.)
The biggest problem is Brian lives in London, working for Scotland Yard, while Jackie is finishing up as a college student in Nebraska. So their interlude here will eventually end, and they will have to continue their romance long distance, via email and text messages. However since the true focus of this book is about both Brian and Jackie learning about each other as men, as well as setting the stage for the events which will follow in the next book, it works. But because of this, this book DOESN'T end with "happily ever after". Instead it ends with "to be continued".
And this is something the reader really needs to understand. All the content herein regarding the Gaslighter case Brian is working on for Scotland Yard, Jackies hobby of geocaching, and the excerpts about the Professor in England are all building up to the events that will be in the next book. They won't seem to tie in here, but truly are important in giving insight into the next book.
For those who, like me HAVE read the original:
OMG I absolutely LOVE how Lou fleshed out the story here! This is, as I mentioned, only part 1 of the original. So if you're expecting all the exciting action and suspense, kidnappings and chases of the entire original book, DON'T! That all comes along in the second half of the original! (check the blurb for the original and you will understand that!) This book instead basically fleshes out the initial romance between Brian and Jackie, and gives us more information and thus insight into the Gaslighter case, and the antagonist we all know and hate in the second part of the original book! (That part here is both eerie and chilling!) As I said in the above, this book sets us up for the one to follow. I can't wait to see how much more exciting the NEXT book will turn out to be, with all the fleshing out she's going to do there as well! (And dang it Lou, how long will we have to wait?!!) Like I said, for me, this book warrants 5 stars!
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