This book was much more than I expected. It’s the author’s first novel, and I sincerely hope it’s not the last. While the blurb describes Jack’s former jobs and current plans gone awry, I wasn’t prepared for the depth to his character.
The blurb feels like Jack the Superhero. And that’s true. He’s an amazing guy who uses all of his wicked computer skills to take on the underworld of pimps, but he’s also a man needing taking care of. Enter Gareth Flynn. Or better yet, re-enter. Gareth is the man Jack fell for at the age of 17 when Gareth was his commanding officer in the military. That was many years ago, though that’s a bit unclear. This is one of my quibbles with the book: timelines. It took me some math to figure out how old Jack is, and that occurred around halfway through the book. I still don’t know how old Gareth is. This isn’t critical information, but it would be nice to know. Beyond that, there’s some confusion about how long ago Jack left the military, how long Gareth has been out, and why for both of them.
Second quibble: WHY did they each leave the military? We find out the bare bones for Jack’s departure, and we know a little about the motivation for it. For as long as this book is, there’s a lot of missing information about this as well as Gareth’s history.
Most of the book in in third person from either Jack or Gareth’s POV, and that’s a good thing. It would be hard to judge either of them through just the other’s eyes. Jack struggles with his past and his ability to share any part of himself with another. He spends so much time wrapped in his mind that it would be difficult to understand him or empathize without his POV. His feelings for Gareth are a constant struggle.
Gareth would seem way too much the caretaker and overbearing bossy guy without the in-his-head times. While he clearly respects Jack’s professional skills, he spends a lot of brain power worrying about Jack and making sure he eats and sleeps. For Jack, who has been independent since the age of 11, it feels less cared for and more smothered. Watching these two figure out how to be with the other is fun. Even better, there’s no angst. These are adult men who communicate (to the best of their abilities) with each other. Jack isn’t a talker, but he’s involved with guy determined to give them a chance.
I also enjoyed the alternate POVs in this book. It was nice to see how Jack and Gareth are perceived by others, and it made me want the stories for some of the secondary characters. I’d like a whole series set in this world.
One thing the book didn’t address was the sexuality of the characters. I found this a relief, to be honest. Jack has a lot of struggles with his past and flashbacks, but he doesn’t sit around wondering about being attracted to men. Gareth is attracted to men and women. There’s no deep discussion of this, and the author doesn’t explicitly tell the reader. Instead, we find out through reference to previous relationships and fantasy attractions. There wasn’t manufactured angst or conflict over sexuality. While that is an important part of some LGBTQ stories, it doesn’t need to be in every book. I appreciate the author leaving it out of this book, because the book already has a lot of moving parts.
My quibbles over timeline and missing information make sense for a multi-book story arc, but it’s a little frustrating for a free-standing novel. The author responded to a question on Goodreads saying there will be more books planned for these two characters. I’m looking forward to seeing the continuing story of Jack and Gareth, because this is much more of a Happy for Now kind of ending as far as the romance goes. There’s also quite a bit left hanging with the secondary characters. There’s no information currently available about sequels, but I’ll be checking back for sure.This review was first posted on Romance Novel News.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this review, I learned the next book about Jack and Gareth will be coming out in January. Can. Not. Wait.