Moving into his new apartment, Jax never expected to have to break up a fight between his new neighbors, resulting in a physical altercation and a visit from the cops. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would lead to him meeting Danny, the cute theater manager and playwright that lived next door. Unfortunately, his first impression of Danny and the way he’d cowered away in the fight with his ex, wasn’t exactly a favorable one.
Jax already has his own issues to deal with, between his past problems with his mother and the chain of men who’ve floated in and out of her life, his new job as a piercer in his sister’s tattoo shop and his struggles with an eating disorder; the last thing he plans to add to it is a relationship. Yet Danny isn’t so easy to ignore and when they find themselves bonding after Danny shows him around town, and more when Jax offers to help with sets for his latest play, it becomes harder and harder for him to ignore the connection forming between them.
As Jax’s insecurities and food issues grow more and more out of control, he find himself turning to Danny for help, rather than his longtime friends Callum and Max who lives just downstairs. Danny’s mix of patience, stubbornness and tough love make it harder and harder for Jax to keep his distance, and somewhere in the course of their daily lives, they find themselves moving from being friends, to being more.
- 1 To Be Read list
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Bad Breakup, Badass Hero, Friends to Lovers, Rescue, Slow Burning Love
Word Count: 97,000
Setting: Des Moines Iowa
Languages Available: English
As he stood under the warm spray from the shower, some of the anger from the night before began to creep back in. Without a doubt, that had to be one of the stupidest things he’d ever done. In fact, if he were to rank a lifetime of insanity and bad decisions, that one was floating somewhere between number two and number five in a very long list.
It wasn’t like it was going to make a difference, the small guy, what the fuck he’d said his name was, Denny, Danny, whatever, had probably bailed the asshole out and was up making him breakfast and laying his shit out for work. Dumbass.READ MORE
Jax sighed and brushed the water out of his eyes. His sister would tell him he was being a cynic, that not everyone was like their mom had been. Fuck that noise, Steph saw rainbows and sunshine in everything. Even when people pissed her off she just smiled and somehow or another managed to win them over. That wasn’t him, had never been him and never would be. People only showed you good when they wanted something, or when they wanted you to like them. As soon as they’d suckered you in, who they really were tended to emerge and he’d learned early on that it was safer to play with pit bulls then people. At least a dog wasn’t gonna bite you unless you provoked them to.
People on the other hand…
Turning the water off, he shook his head, sending water droplets everywhere before grabbing a towel and quickly drying off. He’d barely pulled on his jeans when someone began knocking on his door. For a moment, he considered ignoring it, but the knocking grew more insistent and with a groan he resigned himself to the fact that whoever it was just wasn’t going to go away.
Muttering curses he stalked to the door and yanked it open, only to see the top of Denny-Danny’s head. The smaller man looked up at him with a sheepish grin, the bruises on his face and neck looking much worse in the light.
“Hi, umm,” Danny stammered, as Jax crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe, wondering how long this was going to take.
“I umm, I just wanted to, ummm,” Danny continued, looking around awkwardly. “You didn’t have to help last night, and umm, I just want to thank you.”
“Is that all?” Jax asked abruptly, pushing away from the doorway. “Don’t expect it to happen again.”
Danny took a step back, eyes widening in shock at Jax’s harsh tone. “I-I don’t, I mean, I-I won’t.”
“Good. And do me a favor, try and keep it down the next time you guys decide to fight. No one else needs to hear that shit.”
Jax reached for the door, intent on shutting it, when Danny slammed his hand against the door, stopping him. Jax blinked, glancing from Danny’s hand to his face and back again.
“Do you have a problem?” Jax asked, feeling himself tense, readying for confrontation. He watched the mired of expression that played across Danny’s face, from shock to outrage, to furious indignation, and couldn’t be bothered to worry about where the whole situation might lead. The coward had showed his true colors in the hallway. Nothing he did now would change Jax’s mind about him.
“I didn’t ask for your help last night,” Danny sputtered, weight pressed against the door.
Jax knew he could close it if he truly wanted to, but this was almost amusing.
“I’m grateful to you, f-for what you did, but if you were gonna be an asshole about it, why’d you even bother at all? Or did you think you were coming to help a woman? Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Yeah, I did think it was a woman getting the shit beat outta her,” Jax shot back. “And since you guys were loud as hell, it wasn’t like I could sleep through it or anything.”
Chin trembling, Danny raised his head. It looked to Jax like it was actually taking him some effort to look at him. His one cinnamon colored eye was almost swollen shut, the dark blue bruise around it making the sliver of color stand out even more.
“Look, I didn’t mean to disturb your night. I didn’t ask for him to go off on me like that. He was higher than I’ve ever seen him and to be honest, I’m still not sure exactly what set him off.”
“But you know he uses, and you live with him anyway. Bet you bailed him out too, didn’t you?” Jax shot back, scowling. “Apologized for everything, made him breakfast and even promised to make him a nice dinner tonight when he came home from work, right?”
Danny’s eyes narrowed and his fingers curled into a fist against the door. Jax licked his lips, waiting to see if Danny was actually going to attempt something. Not like he wanted to hurt the guy, he already looked hurt enough, but he seemed to be mustering up more outrage now than he’d shown the night before.
“Actually, I pressed charges against him and left his ass at the precinct when he called me at three in the morning begging me to come bail him out. I even called a moving van to get his shit out of here, rented a storage unit for them to put it in, and planned to invite you over for dinner to thank you, but you can pretty much forget that part of the plan. I don’t invite people into my life who are going to treat me like shit, and I sure as hell aren’t the type to actually forgive them and bail them out after they do. I don’t know what kind of people you’ve been around, but, not everyone likes to play the part of a human punching bag. Anyway, for what it’s worth, thank you for coming to my rescue, trust me when I say there will never be a need for it to happen again.”
Carol Pedroso on Carol Pedroso-Author wrote:
Layla Dorine is an author that I’ve only recently discovered but she is fast becoming a favourite. She writes characters that I feel I should dislike, but instead I fall in love with them. And she writes stories that, in my opinion, have great depths and are well planned. Now maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she just makes up the story as she goes along and there’s no planning going on at all, but if that’s the case then she’s even more talented than I first thought because she always manages to pull the threads of her tale together seamlessly to give us a completely satisfying story.
In this particular book, Jax is the character that I felt I should have hated with a fiery passion. He’s a judgmental douche-canoe, right? Yes, he saves a cowering Danny from a raging boyfriend, but he condemns him for not fighting back for the remainder of the book. I’ve read other reviews, and a lot of readers seem to find Jax’s attitude to be unforgivable. I however, felt nothing but pity for Jax. From my point of view, Jax’s childhood conditioned him to react to domestic violence by blaming both the perpetrator and the victim. Because of what he witnessed and suffered as a child, he sees victims of domestic violence as weak and pathetic. I’d go so far as to say that Jax was suffering from PTSD due to his home life as a child. The author did an absolutely brilliant job of keeping me from despising this guy, against my better judgment. I also loved the way she really made Jax work to change his conditioning. Just because he fell for Danny, it didn’t make everything magically better. He still had to work through why he felt that way, and at times he still struggled with not looking down on Danny because of the way they first met. This author excels at creating these messed up characters. For all of those readers sick to death of perfect male specimens – this author writes the men for you.
As to Jax’s eating disorder, I really, really liked the way the author handled that. I guess Jax is what you’d call a functioning anorexic. Again, this all stems from his sucky childhood and you get the impression that he’ll never truly be over his problem. He manages it to some extent, and seeks help whenever he escalates to “purging”, but there’s no miraculous recovery by the end of the story.
With the occupations of piercer and playwright to add another element of interest to the story, …And All Shall Fade to Black was always going to prove a favourite for me. I fully intend to check out more books by Layla Dorine and urge any readers who haven’t read her books before to give one a go.
Dee on Open Sky Book Reviews wrote:
I research the author must have done for this story astounds me. The detail that goes into each character in this story is wonderful.
I loved the journey we take with Jax and Danny. All the backstory that is slowly revealed and the whys of why Jax is how he is. How Danny helps him to see his future doesn’t have to be dictated by how his family was.
I highly recommend this read, but be warned you will need a large supply of tissues.
Sue on Books Laid Bare Boys wrote:
I loved these 2 flawed characters. Jax is a good looking, buff, motorcycle-riding tattoo artist, but appearances can be deceptive. Underneath it all, Jax is bookish, handy and has an issue that could be problematic to developing a relationship. Danny is a theatre director who has just gotten out of an abusive relationship and is a little gun shy. Outside of his plays, Danny has no social life.
The story could have been really dark, but both men tried not to let their issues completely run their lives. Also the supporting characters – Herman (Danny’s very funny best friend), Steph (Jax’s supportive sister) and Max and Callum (Jax’s best friends) – were funny, caring and well developed; they added a lot to the story.
This is a rich, slow burn love story, but so well done that it doesn’t matter that they don’t sleep together, (really sleep together), until near the end of the book.
I loved the book and would love to read more by this author.
4.5 stars of 5 stars
Just wow! This book was so good....
It just goes to show that appearances can be deceptive. You would think that the tatted up man with the temper would be the more dominant character but not in this book!
A broken man with a sad story, all Jax wants is to leave his past and the little fat boy he once was behind. Sometimes though those feelings of being hated as a child don't go away just because you look different on the outside now.
Living with those insecurities is obviously something that some people can never overcome and morph in to all sorts of disorders.
While Jax is dealing with those, Danny is facing his own demons in the form of an abusive boyfriend.
Getting rid of him isn't so easy but the one thing Jax is good at is protecting others.
When he and Danny start to look to each other for comfort, it's an unlikely but perfect pairing.
This book was so sad to read at times but ultimately had a feel good ending that I loved.
5 out of 5 stars.
Read more: https://www.books-laid-bare-boys.com/latest-reviews/and-all-shall-fade-to-black-by-layla-dorine/