I first read this book back in 2012 and loved it. As a re-read I still really enjoyed it but sadly felt the narrator fell flat and let the story down.
Dr Jack Francisco leads a very ordinary life until he is witness to a murder when leaving work. Feeling obligated to give evidence at the trial of the men responsible he is removed from his life and placed in protective custody. A contract on his life only further complicates matters.
D is a hitman with morals. He is picky about what jobs he takes and killing a man under Police protection whose only crime was witnessing a murder is not something he is willing to do. When he is blackmailed into taking the job to protect his handler he finds his conscience will still not allow it and he ends up protecting the man he was supposed to kill.
Two more different men you will never find....talk about chalk and cheese! D is a completely closed book. He hasn’t had a sexual relationship in 10 years and hasn’t the first clue about friends, feelings or even being human. No one is more surprised than him when Jack, a man he was supposed to kill, gets under his skin and starts making him feel.
Jack is fantastic. Quite literally dragged from his life and having to rely on a man that was sent to kill him I loved that he could still stick up for himself and be a ballsy! He feels compelled to trust D and stands his ground against the cold and scary hitman.
There is plenty of action and adventure along the way as the pair try to stay alive until the trial date. There is also a slow thawing of a man who doesn’t believe he deserves any love. I love that their relationship wasn’t made easy. There was no quick fix, even after the trial, when they both need each other so much it still isn’t easy.
There is a whole sub plot going on behind the scenes and D has to work frantically to find out who is blackmailing him and why they are so intent on getting the job done. This book has thrill, spills and an imperfect love story...perfect for everyone.
At just under 13 ½ hours this a long book on audio. This was my first book with Alan Smith as the narrator and I just felt it didn’t work. Zero At The Bone is a book filled with emotion, thrills and excitement and the story was lost in a flat narration. There needed to be more pitch in the characters voices to really bring out the story and events.
After Ben, the first book is this series, was one of my all time favourites. I thought Con Riley’s writing in that heart wrenching book was brilliant. It’s a close call but I think Aiden’s Luck might just top that. This story is all about family - the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s about one mans mission to save his family from the truth, his sense of duty over a 5 year period that leaves him struggling and barely surviving.
Aiden’s adoptive parents are everything to him. They saved him and then later his brother Evan from the care system and all that implied. They were a regular family of four, happy and content until his father committed suicide. With his mother suffering a mental breakdown and family services sniffing around making sure Evan was suitably cared for Aiden made a decision that would change his life. He took over ALL responsibility for his family not realising at the time just what a difficult thing that would be and how much it would affect and change his life.
Five years of lies, deceit, stretched finances, hiding his sexuality and stress are really beginning to take their toll. When he agrees to house sit for a friend the last thing he expects is to find himself staring into the almost identical face of his first crush. The very talkative, very annoying and very beautiful face of Marco de Luca, youngest brother of the late Ben de Luca.
Talk about opposites! Ben is so trampled down with his responsibilities where Marco is larger than life, gregarious and determined to butt into his business. The more Marco pushes Aiden, the more walls Aiden erects until he breaks down in the family home garage when hit with past memories and Marco is there to pick him up and help him through it.
Con could not have written a more compassionate character than Marco. For me he was just perfect. He always knew just what was required. He could remain calm, he could push if required, he always offered support and advice...the way he dealt with Aiden had the vibe of a D/s relationship to me and Aiden responded positively and for the first time in years he started feeling hope.
This is a heartfelt story and beautifully written. It will take you through a gamut of emotions whilst Aiden tries at first to keep his life precariously balanced before realising that he may have to face the truth and that the people he loves and protects are stronger than he gives them credit for.
If there is one thing Andrew Grey does well it is cowboys! When he adds in a broken marine you know you have a winner
Mario was left behind when his last lover left for pastures with his work and a new man. Ever since he has been pining for what was and what still might be. Everyone one around him believes it is time he moved on and got over David but there hasn’t been anyone to move on to.
Gordon left the marines after losing his two best friends and his memory of how it happened. Down on his luck and in need of the money he lets himself get involved with a group of animal activists who send him to free Wally and Dakota’s big cats. Mario catches Gordon in the act and after having his wounds doctored keeps him on the ranch for the night to talk to the Sheriff.
Gordon quickly realises how misled he was by the group and that the animals on the ranch are well taken care for. Mario has a soft heart and when he discovers that Gordon has been living in his car he brings him back to the ranch and offers him a job. Wally is still furious about the previous nights activities and Gordon will have to work hard to earn his trust.
That Mario and Gordon manage to get together whilst battling with PTSD, activists, major trust issues and an ex that turns up out of the blue is testament to their feelings for each other. I was pleased that once Mario made up his mind he was diving straight in and offered Gordon his support. He slowly got the man to trust him and relax. This turned out to be a couple that really were good for each other.
It’s not all plain sailing to get to their HEA. Gordon is missing memories from an important and devastating time in his life. When he ends up in a life or death situation and they start returning he just might be able to give the military the answers to their never ending questions.
Andrew McFerrin is easy to listen to and speaks very clearly. I did feel his narration was a little slow which in turn sometimes made it feel a little disjointed.
I really enjoyed this. Two more different men you couldn’t meet!
Ford is from a Southern State. His father is not only Mayor of their small town but also a Deacon in the church. He demands respect and obedience from his two sons and believes in ‘traditional’ family values. His father was a bigot!
Gus was brilliant. Out, loud and proud and a great advocate for LGBT rights. Disowned by his family at 16 when his father discovered kissing another boy over their homework he has worked hard to get where he is. His previous boyfriend of three years was in the closet and has just gone through conversion therapy; he now claims to be happy, free of sin and has just married a woman.
The story stems around a community centre being built in a small town. Gus was the architect and didn’t know that a group with extreme homophobic views was involved until after the contract ink was dry. He tries and fails to get himself out of his commitment. As this is happening he has a hot one night stand with Ford, and it is only after that night that he discovers Ford is the lawyer tasked with ensuring Gus finishes the job he has started.
This is not always a comfortable read as it deals with racism and homophobia but real life is not always comfortable. I liked Ford a lot, he may have spent his life in the closet and lived in fear of what his family thought but he was never negative about who he was and he never denied it to himself. Gus was always thoughtful about his predicament understanding what it felt like to lose your family.
The cast of characters in this story was important and you meet some very strong people. Some you will hate immediately but others will surprise you in their support and compassion. I personally think books like this are important, they show us if even for a small time that life isn’t always easy, that we must persevere and that who we love is never wrong. It is worth mentioning the ending......not everything is fixed....again just like real life.
I would love to read a story about Thor!
Great narration on this one! There were quite a lot of characters and all were done perfectly IMO. Very easy to listen to and very clear.
When the Johnnies series first come out I can still clearly remember reading Chase Shadow and being left with the feeling that my heart had been torn out with all the hurt. If somebody asked me to give one word to describe Amy Lane it would undoubtedly be ANGST. She is the absolute master of it!! Ethans book is also full of angst but not in the all consuming way that Chases was.
At the start of this book we find out that Ethan has been abused at school, as a 5 year old, by the bad man with him ‘bamboo’. At first he is supported by his family but those feelings quickly change when they pull away and his mother stops touching him altogether. Whether in fear, stupidity or ignorance the pain this causes Ethan and the effects it will have on his life are devastating and life changing, even more so than the original abuse
Ethan craves touch and I mean CRAVES. He reminded me of a big puppy as he grew up, always trying to do the right thing, to please everybody around him, just so people would touch his arm or tousle his hair. His family fail him completely in this respect; he has a failed attempt at a sexual experience with another boy which leads to more confusion and pain and for a while settles in a relationship with a girlfriend. Although not what he wants deep down he is finally being touched, skin on skin and it settles him.
After leaving his family he finds a way of getting the touch he needs in abundance. He becomes Ethan, a porn star. He has unconsciously built a new family around himself and the men in his life, his co-stars, recognise the need in him to be touched and petted and look after him well. Two years into this new life he meets Jonah who will rock his world and change everything.
Jonah has no experience of the world Ethan lives in. His is a twenty something year old virgin whose life revolves around work, home and looking after his dying sister. He may be the inexperienced one in the relationship but he has an uncanny way of reading Ethan and knowing what he needs. Slowly h e ingratiates himself into Ethans world and shows strength and maturity when the secrets start to come out.
Even though Ethan is its own story it runs at the same time and therefore alongside Chase and Dex. There are events that happen that you will recognise from both the previous books. To get the most out of the stories and understand the characters I think it is imperative that you read all the books in order.
Ethan and Jonah are great together but there is very little romance. Back to Amy Lane, if I would describe her writing with the word angst then I would describe her characters in this series as broken. Oh boy do they all have issues. The drama that surrounds this small group would be overwhelming in real life but somehow it still seems very real. There is no fluff. They might get their happy endings but the woman makes them bleed for it!
I thoroughly enjoyed my second visit to the Johnnies characters. I you haven’t read this series all I would ask is. Why not?
Looking through the number of audio books that Sean Crisden has narrated it is obvious he is a popular choice. From recent experience I have discovered that you need to listen to each book individually. Where you may not like a narration of one book by a person you may end up loving the next. Sean was near perfect for Ethan. For nearly 11 hours I listened as his voice flowed through the story clearly. He didn’t make the sex scenes sound ‘squicky’ and he portrayed each of the characters as I imagined them in my head.
This is less than half the length on audio than the previous book but still just as good.
This chapter in the boys lives is a lot more melancholy than the first two books. I don’t think anyone that reads this series can fail to fall in love with Jeff. As I have said before he is the glue that holds the three together and an integral part of the relationship. At the start of this book he is questioning whether he is of any use to Dan and Evan and whether they would be better off without him. His self doubt is a little bit heart breaking. When he also decides to keep his health worries to himself he is not in a very good place.
Dan and Evan are just the same. One minute everything is fine and the next they are behaving like petulant 5 year olds and waiting for Jeff to sort them out. When Dans sister turns up after an absence of 15 years, 7 months pregnant, the sparks really fly. Evan is never slow to use his money to get what he wants and this situation proves no different. I have loved Evan throughout the three books but his behaviour in the barn when arguing with Dan left me wanting to smack him round the head, he was cruel and you begin to wonder whether the cracks are going to be too deep to fix this time.
I cannot recommend this series enough. It is the very real life struggle of three men and a slightly unconventional relationship. It is not all sunshine and roses but when they get it to work it is fantastic. I felt the first time I read it that it would have been great to see another book, I felt it was left a little open ended, just my personal opinion. I became invested in Dan, Evan and Jeff and would love to see how life worked out for them.
Peter B Brooke did another excellent job. His strong point is still not the female voices but he can be forgiven that I think as he does the three main characters so perfectly.
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