Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Discovered continues the wonderful story of Jamie Mayfield and Brian McAllister. As with the rest of the Little Boy Lost series, Discovered picks up immediately after then end of the previous book, creating one continuous story. Therefore, these books should definitely be read in order (see list below) and this review will have spoilers for the earlier books in the series.
After almost two years of searching, Brian has finally found his lost love Jamie. But the reunion is not all Brian has dreamed about. Not only is Jamie also involved in porn, but he is living with his controlling “boyfriend” Steven O’Dell who abuses him physically and has Jamie hooked on drugs. Jamie is shell of his former self — scared, full of self loathing, and without hope. And Brian is forced to hang back when he realizes the dangers Steven poses to Jamie and that any indication of their past relationship could make things even worse.
Jamie is in complete disbelief when he sees Brian at the studio. He had no idea that Brian was even still looking for him, let alone that he was in San Diego. Jamie still loves Brian, but he is terrified when he sees him, fearing for Brian’s safety if Steven finds out about them. As much as he would love for them to be together, Jamie knows it is hopeless. Steven is incredibly violent, not only abusing Jamie, but threatening his friends as well. One wrong step could lead to Steven hurting or even killing Brian, so Jamie must continue to stay with Steven, pretending things are normal, sneaking rare opportunities to talk to Brian at the studio when Steven is not around.
Jamie’s only real confidant for these past few months has been his friend Alex. Alex has encouraged Jamie to get out of the relationship, but Steven’s threats make him too fearful. Steven has also forced drugs on Jamie long enough that he is now dependent on them to hold himself together. Jamie has secretly been saving up money to try to escape, but just as an opportunity presents itself, Steven threatens to hurt Alex if Jamie even considers it, leaving Jamie hopeless once again. Brian is determined to help him and get Jamie away from Steven so they can be together. But time is running out as Steven’s jealously, rage, and horrific abuse put Jamie’s very life in danger.
So after two years (and two books) of searching, Brian and Jamie are finally reunited. I should have known to expect it to be bittersweet as this series provides such crazy highs and lows as we follow the relationship between the two young men. Once again my emotions were totally caught up in their story and I continue to find it incredibly engaging, even when it is difficult emotionally.
For the first time, we get the story from Jamie’s POV. This is such an interesting switch because for the last three books we are in Brian’s head, and in the past two Jamie wasn’t even in the story at all. We have come to relate to Brian, to understand him. So to suddenly switch perspective is a bit disorienting, but offers some really interesting insight. What struck me the most in reading this story, is that up until now, we have had nothing but Brian’s idealized view of Jamie. He hasn’t seen him in almost two years, and the last time they were together, Brian was barely 17. To Brain, Jamie is a golden angel, all sweetness and light and beauty. Even after they are apart for so long, this is how still Brian sees him, even when he is faced with the reality of what Jamie has become. So as a reader it is somewhat shocking to suddenly be confronted with Jamie as a real person with flaws and issues that are pretty serious and intense. It is an interesting contrast between the version of Jamie that Brian sees, and the Jamie that everyone else sees.
And poor Jamie in reality is quite a mess. After escaping from the Sunshine Center, he ended up on the streets, witnessing the brutal murder of a friend right in front of him. Steven initially looked like salvation, someone to help him out of the terrible reality his life had become, but instead Jamie ended up with a monster. Steven plied him with drugs, forced him to do porn to pay off his drug debts, and threatens him constantly with violence. It is easy to understand why Jamie is so defeated, why he just gives up on his life and is unable to fight for himself. Even when he gets up the strength to try for something better, Steven’s threats of violence against his friends are enough to prevent Jamie from acting.
I will admit, I still found myself a tiny bit mad at poor Jamie. He is such a mess, and jealousy really takes his toll. It is hard for Jamie to watch Brian with Mike and Emilio, knowing how close they all are. And when he realizes they have all been intimate, he immediately assumes the worst, acting out and devastating Brian once again. I know, I get why he does it. The worst happens after Jamie and Brian and some of the other guys take a trip to New Orleans for a porn shoot. After a week of blissful time together, Jamie starts to panic when their week draws to a close, knowing this is the last time he can ever hope to be with Brian. So I know this is just Jamie acting up in self-defense, but oh, I was angry at him.
A few small things didn’t quite work for me here. First, when in New Orleans the guys take a trip to visit Brian’s parents. I actually really loved this scene, because we see them reunited for the first time in a year, and it is clear the love they have for each other. It was also so sweet to see Carolyn take these broken boys under her wing and make them feel like a part of a family for a short time. But I found it hard to imagine that Jamie suddenly appears on their doorstep with Brian, and Carolyn’s reaction seems so low key. This is the boy her son has been searching for for two years. He gave up his life for Jamie, fought obsessively to find him. Then out of nowhere they show up together at the house and Carolyn barely blinks. Just seemed so out of character for the situation. The other thing that felt a bit off for me is how relatively easily Jamie handles a week off of the drugs when he is in New Orleans. The story makes it pretty clear that he is dependent on them and we frequently see him struggling with his need. So the fact that he goes cold turkey for a week with relative ease just felt a little off.
However, once again I think Barnaby has crafted a wonderful story. Some of the books are lighter than others, and this was another hard one for me. Watching poor Jamie suffer and seeing how hopeless he becomes is so painful. It is only the knowledge that Brian will never give up on him that offers some light at the end of the tunnel. I am crossing my fingers for these two. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Little Boy Lost Series: