Title: Vanished (Little Boy Lost #3)
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Rating: 4.75

Vanished is the third book in Barnaby’s fabulous Little Boy Lost series, following Enlightened and Abandoned.  This is a continuous story and Vanished picks up moments after the previous book ends.  So be aware this review will have spoilers for the previous books and I’d definitely recommend reading them in order.

So in Vanished, Brian is finally 18 and heading out to San Diego to look for Jamie.  He is part excited to be getting out there and part terrified of leaving home and giving up the more secure path college offered. It is Brian’s first time out of the state and the bus ride is a bit of an overwhelming experience, especially when he runs into some trouble.  But as the days go on, he begins to adjust and get ready to begin his search in earnest.

But before Brian can begin looking for Jamie, he has to get himself settled with a job and a place to live.  He is delighted to find a room in a boarding house full of other gay young men. For the first time, Brian is in an environment where being gay is accepted and he is welcomed into the group, quickly making close friends.  The job situation is a bit harder, and although he manages to find something, it is not enough to cover all his expenses and Brian fears he will run out of money before ever finding Jamie.

Unfortunately, the search for Jamie proves quite difficult. Even after months and months searching, Brian is nowhere closer to finding him.  Jamie is no longer in the Sunshine Center, but beyond that, there are no real leads.  Brian begins to face the fact that he may never find Jamie.  After having this be his sole focus for well over a year, Brian now has to start thinking about what to do with his life if he never finds him.  He realizes that he loves his life in California — the friends, the independence, the acceptance — and he has no desire to return to Alabama even if he doesn’t find Jamie.  But Brian’s financial situation continues to be his biggest threat to success and with money running out it may just be a matter of time before the decision to go home is made for him.  He must now hope that he can find Jamie before it is too late.

Oh, this book was so good, another wonderful installment in this fabulous series!  I love the way Barnaby frames each book slightly differently, even as they continue the same saga. In Enlightened, it is all about Jamie and Brian and the book is tightly focused on the two of them and their relationship. In Abandoned, it is all Brian, and we see him develop a small circle of family and loved ones that finally give him a sense of belonging and connection with someone other than Jamie.  And here in Vanished, I feel like Brian finally comes into his own.  He really thrives in San Diego, transitioning from that shy kid to a more independent, happy man.  This story really focuses on Brian becoming his own person and learning to make his way in the world.

When Brian arrives he is scared and overwhelmed.  After surviving the beating from Brad Mosely, Brian is often freaked out with big crowds and the huge city is overwhelming to him.  But soon he begins to settle in, both to life in San Diego and with the other other guys who live at the boarding house.  My favorite part about this story is seeing Brian interact with his friends.  He comes to San Diego having been hated for being gay, yet here he finds acceptance. He quickly becomes one of the group, making lots of close friends.  The guys open him up to new experiences and awaken his sexuality in a way different from what he had with Jamie.  Brian and Jamie’s relationship was all about sweetness and love.  But here Brian learns to flirt, to play, and even to enjoy some casual sex with his good friends Mike and Emilio.  Although he has a hard time at first worrying he is betraying Jamie, Brian realizes that he may never find him and can’t put his life on hold forever.  I am sure some readers won’t like this, but I was happy to see Brian learn to have fun and enjoy life.  After almost two miserable years, he deserves to relax and be happy, without worrying all the time.  I enjoyed seeing him find and enjoy that sexual side of himself.

Although we don’t see much of Jamie in this book, we do learn that he made a huge sacrifice to protect Brian.  I think this was important for the story, and to me as a reader, to see that things aren’t all one sided. After such a long absence from the books, I needed to feel like Jamie is as committed to Brian as Brian is to him, and this went a long way to easing my fears.  I also liked seeing how Brian keeps in touch with his parents, and that their relationship continues to strengthen even with him in California.

Vanished is another fabulous installment in this wonderful series — exciting, romantic, very sexy, and a bit heartbreaking. It is a bit lighter and happier than the previous book, which I enjoyed.  Vanished moves the saga along nicely and sets things up perfectly for the second half of the series.  Highly recommended read.

Cover Review: Oh, I wish I was happier with these covers. They don’t do poor Brian justice. He is supposed to be a hot sexy twink, and this guy just doesn’t convey that.  Although I do appreciate the attempts at continuity with the models.