Vasquez and James Book Three
Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it's perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki's status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.
The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.
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Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Badass Hero, Criminals & Outlaws, Honeymoon, Interracial Relationship, Queer Wedding
Setting: Hawaii, Washington State, Seattle, Nebraska, Umatilla NF
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
THE Hawaiian sky stretched wide, exactly the hue of Delsyn’s Blue #3, which would make it all that much easier for Sonny James to eventually weave a tapestry commemorating the day of his marriage to Luki Vasquez. The lava at Sonny’s feet seemed peculiarly lumpy; he studied its color as he stepped across the nearly flat-topped hill where they would be wed. Splashes of dark red lay almost hidden in the surface. From a distance, one would never guess they were there. If Sonny had encountered that coloring a year ago, he would have woven it with judicious touches of Sonny’s Red, a dye that had long been his trademark. But once he’d been forced to stand and watch his nephew’s precious, red blood drip into white porcelain, Sonny’s Red was dead and gone, and even scarlet and carmine no longer held a prominent place in his art.READ MORE
“No,” he said, forcing the horrors from his mind. “Happier things today.” He half turned just as Luki—his lover, fiancé, groom, and at the moment the most breathtaking part of the scenery—stepped near. Thinking “groom” made Sonny smile, and when Luki held out his big, capable hand, Sonny recognized the invitation and held out his own, letting Luki twine their fingers together.
“Hey, sweetie,” Luki said, his scratchy voice nevertheless deep and musical.
“Hey,” Sonny answered, feeling suddenly shy under Luki’s gaze—an inexplicable reaction, though not unusual. Their eyes met as they leaned toward each other for a kiss, and even though the sight was far from new, Luki’s pale blue irises, bright eyes surrounded with black lashes and dark skin, startled Sonny, and he caught his breath in surprise. Sometimes those eyes were like ice. Used to be that way more often than not, but lately the irises were nearly always dark-centered, wide open with love when they looked at Sonny, and the corners of Luki’s eyes often crinkled with a smile that didn’t quite reach his lips. He smiled like that now, in that very moment on the lava hill, and his eyes danced, reflecting blue sky, blue ocean, sunlight. The grooms shared their kiss, chaste but full of promise. Then, Luki pulled Sonny’s hand to his lips and kissed the finger that bore the fire opal engagement ring. Sonny’s mouth went dry.
“Kaholo’s on his way up the mountain,” Luki reported. “We’ll be saying our vows in just minutes, baby.” His voice held an edge of excitement that Sonny would have bottled if he could. Miracles like that thrill in Luki’s words, like that flush over his dusky skin, were not things that happened every day—even now, even after Luki had learned how to love. Sonny breathed deep in an effort to slow his thoughts enough to savor that and everything beautiful about the day. And Sonny was honest enough, and artist enough, to admit that he was part of the beauty—he and Luki both.
Both men wore white. Luki’s suit fit loosely, almost blousy, giving him plenty of room for his muscled chest and shoulders, yet at the same time it had been tailored so perfectly that, while it only showed off some of Luki’s curves and planes, it eloquently promised the rest. He wore a tie of barely blue silk, woven by Sonny with a subtle, obscured pattern of lauburu—the Basque Cross. They’d gotten legally married at home in Washington State, but they were both thinking of this Hawaiian ceremony as their real wedding. Luki had asked for that, in honor of his Hawaiian ancestors. But Sonny had thought it proper to have something to honor Luki’s Basque heritage too, and when he found the lauburu, a simple, ancient, pagan symbol of prosperity, he took some joy in weaving it into the tie.
Sonny wore white silk, an Italian cut customized for his height and slightly broader shoulders, following closely the slim lines of his elegant frame. He wore a white ribbon shirt, with the remaining three sacred colors in the ribbons—narrow strips of a blue so deep it was almost black, golden yellow, and dark red. They crossed his chest and climbed his shoulders, then hung from his shoulder blades in the back, hidden now under his jacket. The two silk-covered buttons of Sonny’s light-weight, summer wool jacket had been set with diamonds at the center. A silk scarf woven—like the ribbons on his shirt—of the four sacred colors from his tribal heritage, fluttered at his chest in the slight breeze. Sonny had created both Luki’s tie and his own scarf, and they carried meaning—almost as much as the rings they would exchange.
Reality check, Sonny thought. Nothing meant nearly as much to him as Luki himself, as he was just then, awaiting their wedding—his eyes excited, his smile nervous, his touch warm on Sonny’s hand.
Josh was driving the Mercedes they’d rented, and he pulled it up next to them on the almost flat hill of smooth volcanic rock. The fact that Kaholo had let him drive had given the seventeen-year-old a glow to rival Luki’s own. Kaholo sported a colorful Hawaiian shirt and flower leis, his usual easy manner, and his good-natured, open smile. Apparently, he wasn’t troubled at all that he would be the one to say the words, guide the two men through their marriage vows. Josh and Kaholo both exited the car and greeted Luki and Sonny with hugs.
Kaholo cleared his throat, perhaps wanting to lend a bit more gravity. “Are we ready to get started then, Mili?”
“What’s wrong with Jackie?” Josh interjected. As protective as Josh was of Jackie, he may not have even meant to speak out loud, but he did, so all eyes in the vicinity followed the direction of Josh’s gaze and settled on Jackie cowering in the back seat, his shoulders shaking as if he was crying. Luki, Sonny, and Kaholo all independently stepped toward the boy, but Josh spoke up again. “No, let me talk to him, okay? Please?”
The three older men all stood back, but Sonny watched closely through the car window. He wasn’t sure why, but it troubled him quite a lot to think that Luki’s nephew—his own new nephew, so to speak—was unhappy on this day, his and Luki’s wedding day. Watching the boys, Sonny saw Josh pleading with Jackie, Jackie shaking his head, the two of them gesturing back and forth. Their facial expressions teased at Sonny until finally he stepped out to go involve himself.
“No, Sonny,” Luki said.
“Just wait, now,” Kaholo said, laying a heavy hand on Sonny’s shoulder. “Take it easy.”
When finally Josh stepped around the car and approached the waiting men, he said, “Jackie forgot the rings.”
“That’s what’s bothering him? But that’s no big deal.” Luki added, “It’s ten minutes down the mountain and ten back. We could have already done it.”
Kaholo shook his head. “Quiet yourself, Mili. Obviously that’s not all, but it’s something we can deal with. Let’s do that.”
“Well, what else is it? He looks miserable!” Luki’s face had transformed from shyly happy to frankly annoyed, as if he didn’t want Jackie raining on his parade.
“Uncle,” Josh said, slightly pleading. “He… he doesn’t feel comfortable….”
“With what?” Sonny asked quietly. He didn’t want either boy to feel threatened. “Can we help him?”
“No… I mean, I’m not supposed to tell you. I promised, but you know, the suit and all. He doesn’t feel right.”
“In his clothes?”
“In his skin—oh. Probably I shouldn’t have said that. Please, just let me drive him back down for the rings, and he can take a minute to talk to Bear.” The big red Chow mix mongrel dog that had adopted Luki last summer had made it a point to strike up a friendship with Jackie. Maybe he had known the troubled teen, with his terrible history of abuse, needed a silent, slobbery friend. However it had happened, the dog’s presence always settled Jackie down. Josh went on, “He’ll feel better by the time we get back. Jackie is happy for you two. I know he’ll calm down. Okay?”
Sonny looked to Luki for response, but his man seemed dumbstruck. Kaholo spoke up and answered for all of them, never questioning that he had the right to do so. “Go ahead, Josh,” he said, then wagged a finger in admonishment, “but you be darn careful driving that car. No funny business. And you be back here in twenty minutes. And don’t look at your uncle like that, young man; he ain’t gonna hurt you or Jackie ever, and you know it. This is unexpected, and at a not-so-good time, that’s all. Your Uncle Luki’s just more nervous than he looks. Now get those rings and get that brother of yours straightened out.”
WHEN Josh and Jackie were gone in the car, Kaholo walked among the few guests, seeing to their comfort and letting them know there’d been a slight snag, but all would proceed shortly. He looked happy, Luki thought—perhaps even more so than usual—and well he should. Some of the guests had come from Washington and other states for the event, including Katie and her family, their beloved friend Margie, Kim—Luki’s top agent—and her protégé, Brian, and even Jim Standing Bear, Sonny’s onetime reservation basketball coach and staunch supporter. But most of the rest, about half of the two dozen present, were relatives or family friends so close-knit they might as well have been brothers and sisters. Kaholo’s youngest sister Leilani—the only other sibling left out of the seven they’d once been—was just then hugging Kaholo and laughing. Luki had never met her before the big family barbecue two nights ago, but she was going to sing during the wedding, and then again afterward, while Kaholo played slack key accompaniment on his old, beat up Gibson. Watching the two of them tease, Luki’s bewildered frown returned to a soft smile.
Sonny, too, had been quietly watching his new family. “I’m glad we came to Hawaii for our wedding, Luki.”
For Luki, getting to have the wedding in Hawaii was like another wedding gift, and he turned eyes softer than usual on his betrothed. “I’m so lucky, baby. Thank you.”
Sonny, as was his way, dismissed any thanks and simply shook his head. “I love you. So what do you make of this Jackie situation?”
The sudden shift didn’t faze Luki. He’d finally begun to get used to Sonny’s swift course changes—which happened when he was driving, when he was walking on the beach, when they were talking, even sometimes when they were making love. “I don’t know, Sonny. Worrisome, though. Josh clearly knows stuff he’s not telling. Jackie apparently doesn’t want to involve us. The only thing I can think of is, when the wedding and all is past, if things haven’t smoothed out, we’re going to have force the issue and get involved anyway. I don’t have a good feeling about it. This isn’t the first time something’s come up… not the first time he’s acted… surprisingly….”
“You mean like when he shaved his head and then would hardly go outside for two weeks?”
“Yeah. Did you know he also shaved his entire body and wouldn’t come out of the bathroom for hours? He opened the door a crack for Josh to prove he wasn’t bleeding, and then locked it again. Later, Kaholo jimmied the lock because Jackie didn’t answer, and he was sleeping in the bathtub covered with towels.”
“Well… shaving is okay, if that’s what he wants and he doesn’t hurt himself, right?”
“Right.” Luki nodded. “I know that, you know that, but it doesn’t seem like he knows.”
“Yeah,” Sonny said. “Other stuff, too, right? Seems like a lot of signs of an unhappy Jackie, when you add it up. You think it’s okay to let it go until we get back to Nebraska?”
“In our fucking RV?”
“Right,” Sonny grinned. “In our really cool RV.”
Luki almost smiled back, but didn’t allow it because he was trying to tease. He knew Sonny saw the smile anyway. He’d been giving Sonny a hard time about the RV trip since last year, when they’d first planned to head east for a road trip. Murder and betrayal had stood in the way of that trip. Now, the RV road trip had become the third leg of their honeymoon. Luki was, of course, looking forward to a road trip with Sonny, but that didn’t mean the idea wasn’t weird.
That was a distraction from the business at hand, though. “I don’t think so much we’re letting it go. He’s more likely to talk to Josh than anyone.” The truth was, though the boys were less than two years apart in age, Josh had always been big and strong, Jackie small and easily hurt. Josh had spent most of the last several years trying to take care of his little brother. Jackie trusted him, as he should. And of course, there was Kaholo. “For that matter,” Luki went on, “he trusts Kaholo more than either of us. I plan to have a talk with both of them—Josh and Kaholo. See if I can learn anything, but especially ask them to take extra care with Jackie, keep him close, keep their eyes open. I’m assuming he’s still seeing the therapist, taking his meds.” He was quiet for a minute, but apparently Sonny knew he had more to say. He waited silently while Luki chewed his lip, and finally Luki spoke up again. “You know, he didn’t deserve any of it, what his father did to him. Or what happened when he and Josh were on the streets. He’s a great kid.”
“You want him to have a chance to be happy.”
“Yeah,” Luki said, meeting Sonny’s eyes in earnest. “Yeah, I really do.” The crunch of tires over rough road sounded loud in his ears; he felt like it was waking him up. “Hey,” he said, letting his self-forbidden smile out of its restraints. “They’re back. Let’s get married, baby.”
Sonny giggled—yes, giggled—and threw his arms around Luki, kissing his hair. Before he was done Jackie ran up to them and they drew him into the embrace.
“I’ve got the rings, this time.” His speech lilted, like it did when he was happy, almost like song. Luki was very glad to hear it. “I’m sorry for messing up,” Jackie said.
“You didn’t mess up,” Sonny smiled. “Not so it matters, at least. You just gave Luki an extra opportunity to give me a hard time about the RV trip.”
Josh came up and pulled Jackie away to deal with last minute usher-like activities—not that much to do outdoors with a couple dozen guests. Kaholo walked up slowly and said, “Let go, guys, stop all this hugging around and get married. No more putting it off.”COLLAPSE
Mt Snow on Rainbow Gold Reviews wrote:
Because of falling crazy in love with both Sonny and Luki in the previous installment, I was very excited to jump into this third book of Lou Sylvre's 'Vasquez & James' series. Don't get me wrong, I seriously enjoyed the first book in the series, but everything seemed to click for me in 'Delsyn's Blues' and so I knew that I would love 'Finding Jackie'. The more I discover about Sonny and Luki, and the more I watch them together, the stronger my fascination is with them as individuals and as a couple.
The wedding in Hawaii was perfect and now Sonny and Luki are embarking on their honeymoon, which actually consists of three parts, the final being their long awaited RV road trip in the States. What I found very fascinating, and rather brilliant of the author, was that she didn't make the assumption that Luki and Sonny knew everything about each other, which would've been unrealistic, and, instead, they've just gotten married, and are constantly learning new things about each other. I guess what I'm trying to say is that they are still pleasantly surprised by each other and that made me happy because marriage should be that way. Of course, Luki going behind Sonny's back to get reinstated with ATF didn't go over very well and was not a pleasant surprise.
It's while they are traveling to Nebraska, via RV, that Luki gets the call from his uncle that his nephew, Jackie, has run away. Now Luki and Sonny are on the hunt for Jackie, and running smack-dab into mobsters who hold them accountable for deaths that occurred in the previous book. Jackie is sixteen and struggling with who he is and what he wants, specifically sexually, and the more Luki and Sonny track down, the more scared they are for Jackie and what they'll find. That doesn't prevent them from going after Jackie and the men, they discover, who implemented his running away, which has now become a kidnapping.
This was another exciting addition to this series which culminated in a massive gunfight. As usual, I spent the final pages in white-knuckle agony waiting to see how it'll turn out and to make sure I don't get any unexpected surprises. Thank you, Lou, for another excellent adventure with the guys. I'm looking forward to the next one.
NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews
Monique on Sinfully M/M Book Reviews wrote:
With this story we get to see inside the mind of Jackie, one of Luki’s nephews who happened to go through some very rough abuse with Luki’s brother before his brother was killed. Now, Jackie is only 16, and seems to be in a questioning stage of wondering if the things he’s feeling or wanting are ‘normal’ or a side effect of his abuse.
I felt this one had a good message, as there comes a time when many of us wonder if we turn out the way we do as a result of our environment, or if we really are ‘just preprogrammed’ to just like what we like and its okay. I think Sonny and Luki and Great Uncle Kahala are just the right role models to guide teen Jackie through the things that happen to and around him. Yes, there is more angst here, and we get more glimpses in to some unpleasant memories that Luki has of his youth, but it adds to the authentic and realistic feel of the storyline.
Not as many tears here, and nice to get to know another supporting character in Brian, who helps fill the void of Luki’s loss of his former business partner and best friend from the first book. It also adds to some foreshadowing of a relationship in the future.
Once again I am totally in awe of Lou Sylvre and her writing, she has such a way with words that I become totally enchanted and enthralled for the duration of the book from beginning to end I did not put Finding Jackie down and the pages just kept turning. But not only is this series beautifully written, with the prose at times almost poetic, the characters are so fully formed and fleshed out that they have found a place in my heart and I don’t ever want this series to finish… I want to know about them when they are old and gray sitting out on the porch and reminiscing about the good old days. I think I need a personal Christmas news letter each year on how they are doing and what calamities have befallen them… I can guarantee this series will remain one of my favourites, Lou Sylvre is one of those authors that can get into your head, building vivid images with words that make everything clear, where the characters emotions become yours and she is most definitely up there with my favourite authors, and you can be sure that I will buy anything she writes… I actually think she could make a shopping list exciting!
This book for me is a tale of two halves both of them woven together seamlessly with the pace starting off slow, and even though we have an ominous prologue from the Stepfather of three of the villains killed in Delsyn’s Blues... Dante Alessandro otherwise known as the Death Angel an assassin in his own right, plus we also know that he is going to make it his mission to kill those responsible for the death of his children, yet we are still lulled into a false sense of security, slowly building to an action packed second half that was full of some real heart in your mouth moments, and yes, I did have the whole tears and tantrums with these two and they wouldn’t be Sonny and Luki if they didn’t have me also laughing out loud.
The first half we see these two men finally tie the knot and it was just beautiful… a real aww bless moment that had me reaching for the tissues and Luki finally gives Sonny the most precious wedding gift of all!?!
“We’ll be saying our vows in just minutes, baby.” His voice held an edge of excitement that Sonny would have bottled if he could. Miracles like that thrill in Luki’s words, like that flush over his dusky skin, were not things that happened every day—even now, even after Luki had learned how to love. Sonny breathed deep in an effort to slow his thoughts enough to savor that and everything beautiful about the day. And Sonny was honest enough, and artist enough, to admit that he was part of the beauty—he and Luki both.
“Sonny, I promise to love you, never to try to change you, to trust you with my heart and with everything I have, and always to remember how precious, how fine, how beautiful you are to me. And I’ll keep you safe, Sonny. I’ll always keep you safe.”
I have to say things. I have to tell you that I… will love you and no other, body and soul… will honor your strength and cherish it. And, Luki, I promise to give you what I am. Every day I want to show you beauty—the beauty I see in the world. That vision is the best I have to give, the best of what I am. And….” His voice trailed to a whisper. “Thank you, Luki, for loving me so much.”
So… I am laughing writing this as these two just make me smile as I think about some of their antics, their Honeymoon starts off like all good Honeymoons should, full of romance and lots of loving, but this is Luki and Sonny and it isn’t long before they find themselves involved in a murder which of course escalates and they are then in a mad dash to get back to Nebraska to find Luki’s missing Nephew Jackie. Originally thought to be a runaway before they realise there is something amiss and Jackie’s life is in danger, and once again Luki needs to call in the troops to help out.
What I like most about these two characters are their flaws, they are both fallible and make mistakes, there is no hiding them and no apology made for them… because that is who they are. They have misunderstandings that can be infuriating for those of us watching on, but like all relationships they need to grow and learn. Throughout their lives they have not had an emotional attachment where the other person becomes more than themselves and a part of their whole being, their true soul mate, the one person that leaves them vulnerable. Lou Sylvre gives us a peek into their minds and enables us as readers to see what others around them don’t, their insecurities, fears and passions, all laid bare to give us a better understanding, and also to frustrate the hell out of us at times! But through all of it there is one constant, and that is the love they have for each other… it is undeniable and the passion, love and tenderness these two men share just leaves me breathless and melting in a puddle of lust, it is both poignant and beautiful, Lou Sylvre certainly knows how to write an emotional love scene.
The title of this book is Finding Jackie and not only do we get the POV’s of our two MC’s, but we also see inside the mind of Luki’s Nephew Jackie, which was sad and harrowing and left my heart breaking, a sixteen year old boy who had suffered abuse at the hands of his own Father and then was forced to perform on the streets to enable both him and his brother to survive, situations traumatic enough for an adult but Jackie had been a boy. Despite help and support from the family and his Brother Josh, he feels lost and alone but most of all guilty, for desiring something that he wasn’t even sure of himself, but he was desperate enough to run away in search of it... only he was running into the wrong hands.
So in this third instalment of Vasquez and James, more secrets are divulged and with each book we learn more about these two very complex characters, we also get to see some of the secondary characters we have come to love and a little more of Brian, Kate’s protégée, who turns out to be very helpful in more ways than one and I am hoping for a spin off series with two love interests which I would definitely like to see more from. The end of this book was just perfect and beautiful and fingers crossed that the lovely Lou Sylvre will still bring us more from Luki and Sonny as I really do not want to say goodbye just yet!