Rating: 4.5 stars
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David and his best friend Dex finally are able to express their feelings for one another the summer after high school. But what looks to be the start of something wonderful turns into tragedy, and feeling heartbroken and alone, David flees to California hoping to start a new life. There he finds his way to Johnnies, a “gay for pay” porn site just getting off the ground. Dex was always the one in charge, who knew what to do and who always took the lead between them. So when David decides to take on a new name at Johnnies, he chooses to reinvent himself as Dex, hoping to find the strength to go on without his first love.
Now eight years later this new Dex is the second-in-command at Johnnies. He is also the go to guy among his friends, the one they call whenever someone needs help, needs something planned, or generally needs support. Everyone assumes Dex can handle anything, but he is facing his own struggles after a horrible breakup is causing him to question himself and a lot of the decisions he has made. But his friends still need him, and two in particular face a difficult crisis. So even though Dex feels like he is falling apart on the inside, he continues to be there for everyone else.
That includes agreeing to let his friend and coworker Kane move in with him when Kane’s sister kicks him out of his house. Yes, HIS house. Because once Kane came clean with her about where he earns the money to help her out financially and care for his niece, Kane’s sister refuses to let Kane live there. But Lola has an abusive husband and Kane knows if he doesn’t let her stay in the house, she will end up going back to him. And Kane is such a good guy, kind hearted and caring, that he can not refuse her. So left without a place to go, Kane moves in with Dex, bringing along his menagerie of snakes and reptiles.
At first the guys are nothing but friends with benefits. With Kane’s animals taking up the second bedroom, from day one the men share Dex’s bed. But although they are close friends, neither really expects more to happen. Kane doesn’t really consider himself gay; although he sleeps with men on the job and even for kicks on his own time, he always assumes he will end up with a woman. And Dex is only just coming to terms with his sexuality himself. But slowly the guys begin to fall for one another and take a chance on admitting their feelings. But even once they are together, it is not all smooth sailing. Both have disapproving families that are causing a lot of stress, not to mention Dex’s ex-boyfriend stirring up trouble. The only way these guys will make it through is if they can find a way to be there for each other.
I really enjoyed Dex in Blue, the second of Lane’s Johnnies series, following the excellent Chase in Shadow. The story is structured in an interesting way that almost feels like two distinct parts. The first 100 pages or so follow closely with the events in Chase, overlapping about the last month in the first book’s timeline. Dex plays a significant role in that story, and Kane appears as well, and so we see many of the same events here from their point of view. Throughout this portion of the story we see the growth of Kane and Dex’s relationship as they begin to realize their feelings for one another and decide that they are meant to be together. I liked getting to catch back up with Chase and Tommy and thought it was interesting to see their story from the perspective of other characters. At times it did feel a bit repetitive of the first book though, although that may be because I read them almost back to back. I also thought it pulled the focus a bit from Dex and Kane and their developing relationship because so much of their story was told through the lens of what was happening to Tommy and Chase. However, I still enjoyed watching Dex and Kane’s love blossom, and loved their fierce dedication to one another.
The second part of the book takes Dex and Kane’s relationship to the next level, as they are fully committed to one another and now facing external struggles in the form of their families. I really liked this section because we really see why Dex and Kane work so well together. Both of these guys are caretakers. They are kind and generous and always there for everyone else. But there are times that each is hurting and needing comfort and support and someone to lean on, and when that happens they turn to each other. They are each other’s biggest supporters, always ready to step in when they are needed. Dex helps Kane deal with his sister, work out his finances, and figure out how to protect his niece. He encourages Kane when he feels stupid or frustrated with the direction of his life, and loves and accepts him unconditionally. And Kane is there to comfort Dex when his family hurts him, when he is overwhelmed with responsibility, or when his ex causes trouble. These guys are just so sweet together, like big teddy bears with a fiercely protective sides that can take on anything as long as they have each other.
So once again, Lane provides a wonderful story full of characters going through difficulty but who find their way with the help of the men they love. I really enjoyed revisiting with the guys from Johnnies and seeing how they are each growing and finding their way (and I am really looking forward to Ethan’s story). And I just loved both Kane and Dex and thought they were so wonderful together. The book just left me with such a warm, satisfied feeling. I really liked this one and definitely recommend it.
P.S. For those of you wondering, this book is a lot less intense than Chase in Shadows; although these guys each face their demons, mentally they are both in a much better place than Chase. So a little drama, but not a super intense story.