Author: Lou Sylvre
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Six years ago, Brian Harrison helped save the life of Jackie Vasquez, and he’s never really forgotten him. After the rescue, Brian ended his employment with Jackie’s uncle Luki and left the US for England, aiming to distance himself from the confused feelings—not lust, but not brotherly—that then sixteen-year-old Jackie engendered. Now Jackie has become a man, and when they meet again by chance, lust with a dose of D/s rope kink is definitely on the list of possibilities. As they get to know each other, though, lust shows every sign of growing into love, deep and true.
When Jackie moves to London for graduate studies in criminal psychology, he and Brian hope they’ll be able to enjoy each other’s frequent company. But they haven’t factored in the claim Brian’s police job with Scotland Yard will make on his time, especially when the “Gaslighter crimes” sap investigative resources. An abandoned aide dog named Soldier leads to a breakthrough clue, and a chain of discoveries fall like dominoes. As Brian rushes to beat the criminal’s game before it escalates to true terror, he comes to an undeniable conclusion: Jackie Vasquez, the man he loves, is in mortal danger.
Review: As a swooning fan of Lou Sylvre’s superb Vasquez & James series, I was very pleased to see her writing a story for Jackie and Brian. Readers first meet these characters in ‘Finding Jackie’, book three of the aforementioned series. ‘A Shot of J&B’ takes place about 6 years after events in ‘Finding Jackie’, but prior to events in ‘Because of Jade’ (the most recent V&J book). This book could be read as a stand-alone, but please, please do yourself a favor and read at least up through ‘Finding Jackie’ in order to experience its full background and emotional impact.
I’m so happy that the author is planning a full series for Jackie and Brian, as this book left me brimming with wonderful warm feelings about their relationship and where it is heading. Lou’s flowing, expressive writing style is something I’ll never tire of. ^_^
A brief synopsis …. Jackie and Brian first met in Finding Jackie. 16 year old Jackie had been kidnapped and 22 year old Brian – who was working at the security firm run by Jackie’s badass uncle Luki – aided in his rescue. Brian was very drawn to Jackie, but due to their age difference and Jackie’s abusive past and recent traumatic experiences, he left for London to potentially pursue a career with Scotland Yard.
This book opens with Jackie and Brian meeting again after 6 years. Brian comes to visit Sonny and Luki on his way home to London after the holidays, not knowing Jackie will be there. This time, his attraction to Jackie hits like a gut punch Brian can’t deny, nor is he able to conceal it from anyone. The best part – Jackie is definitely attracted to Brian too. Their shared ride to the airport becomes a fragile start to a budding relationship. Luki and Sonny are ever on guard for Jackie’s well- being, but never controlling or overbearing. The glimpses of them and the supportive role they play for Jackie were totally in character. Their love for Jackie was a welcome, soothing and familiar balm.
The manner in which Brian and Jackie slowly got to know each other better via e-mails was sweet and revealing. I felt it was a good way for Jackie (who admits to being fragile at times) in particular to initially communicate his feelings, without risking becoming overwhelmed or overly vulnerable. Brian‘s painful awareness of Jackie’s past was of course a good thing, but he also had the responsibility of handling Jackie with care. He was a Dom. He knew Luki would have his hide if he didn’t proceed cautiously. He had a club in London where he was comfortable interacting. Did he really want more? Did Jackie want to be his sub? The answer to both questions was – yes. As earnest as the situation with the guys was, I still got a good giggle over Sonny covertly supplying phone numbers and addresses to the pair of them. Humor is genuinely interspersed with great effect throughout the story.
Jackie happens to be studying forensic psychology. Given his history of past abuse and trauma, I was intrigued as to how that would plausibly come together, with a D/s
relationship added on top of it all. My faith in the author was proven out. First of all, Jackie at his core is a very strong person. He is never portrayed as a weakling, nor is Brian portrayed as his savior or someone Jackie is dependent on. Luki even tells Jackie he may very well be the strongest person he’s known. Jackie also confides that he’s held submissive tendencies since he was an adolescent, pre-dating any abuse. I felt re-assured by this, as did Brian. There was no darkness what so ever regarding Brian and Jackie’s D/s relationship. It is in fact beautifully portrayed. Brian is a Dom whose kink is rope play. Learning about the art of Shibari rope bondage as I read this story was fascinating. The love making scenes where Brian and Jackie engage in combine warmth and love, thrill and eroticism. There was deep trust and tenderness amid the heat of their passion. They wanted everything from and with each other, not merely their D/s status. The guys had a few bumps to get over on their way to achieving a solid foundation, but they learned from these and were stronger for them. I absolutely experienced their bonding, their apprehensions, and their strong love for one another.
One of the things I admire about this author’s writing is how artistic her characters are and how they are completely presented as unique and complex individuals. I always loved picturing Sonny weaving, working with his fabrics and creating new pigments. Jackie is talented as well, designing and crafting fine leather pieces. These are described in gorgeous detail, including a sumptuous corset which he wears in a memorable scene. Brian also knits and crochets, and has a soft spot for four legged friends. The author strikingly captures this individualism with her words. The story settings are likewise vivid and alive. Whether the characters were roaming the sun kissed plains of Nebraska, hanging out in Brian’s flat, or scrambling about in the dark shadowy depths of London, I felt as though I were there.
The sinister crime aspect in this story built slowly. It lurked in the background for the first half of the book and had me itching to see how it would play out. As Brian was promoted to Detective, he found himself wrapped up trying to solve a series of mysterious pranks designed to illicit great fear. There was interesting delving into the twisted criminal minds behind the pranks. This led to some unexpected twists and turns in the story. It also proved to be a genius way to show Jackie and Brian confronting their greatest fears, and proving their resilience and fortitude. I’m particularly looking forward to finding out how Brian ultimately processes his thoughts about his future as a detective…
The story ends with Brian and Jackie firmly together, but with so much more to learn about themselves and one another. I eagerly look forward to exploring that territory with them, as well as the adventures that are sure to come along the way.
Thank you Lou Sylvre for another lovely read. The Reese Dante cover on this book is yummo icing. So. Freaking. Gorgeous.