series spotligtRating: 4 stars
Length: Novels

So, for Throwback Thursdays, I chose the Lost Boys and Love Letters series by Bethany Brown and Ashlyn Kane. This will be the third time I have read these four books and never fail to enjoy them. The first two books, True North and Picture Perfect can be read on their own, but Wild Angels and Broken Wings must be read in order.

True North

Rating: 4 stars

true northTrue North is the story of two closeted men, Jackson Strange (Jack) and Dr. Julian Piet, living in conservative, small town Alberta. Upon meeting, the men feel an almost immediate physical attraction to each other. Both Jack and Julian worry about being gay in conservative Northern Alberta and are uncertain about each other’s preferences. As a result, they give mixed signals about their attraction to each other. Julian discovers that Jack’s mother, Flo, is sick and because of the doctor/patient relationship, he must keep Flo’s secret, which once discovered, drives a wedge between the men.

throwback thursdayThis was an action-packed book full of well-developed characters, both main and secondary, and the Canadian references lent authenticity to the Northern Alberta locale. Jack is worried about other’s perceptions and reactions to him being gay, and Julian has the same concerns, but was also deeply betrayed by a past lover and is afraid of putting himself out there for fear of being hurt again. Julian’s sister Roz is funny, caring, and meddlesome when it come to her brother’s love life and downright manipulative. Roz is the catalyst for their first scorching sexual encounter, but it is Jack’s cold behavior after the fact, treating Julian like a trick out of fear, that threatens the budding relationship. Eventually, Jack comes to admit his feelings regardless of the consequences.

I really liked the various Canadian references used in the story, being Canadian myself, as all were believable and worked well within the context of the story. I was a bit confused about the references to Calgary, which is located in the Southern part of the Province in relation to a town in the North and also found that there was a bit too much drama in a short period of time. There are only so many emergencies, illnesses, angst that can truly be believable, although it certainly kept the story going at a good pace. I also had a few issues with editing and gaps in secondary relationships, but overall this was an enjoyable read.

Picture Perfect

Rating: 3.75 stars

picture perfectVeterinarian Jeremy Montgomery has hired a summer student, Emily, who just happens to be the niece of his long-time crush Cameron (Cam) Walker. The two knew each other in high school and although both were attracted to the other, the timing was never right. Cam’s ex, Paul, was abusive and, as a result, Cam now fears physical contact and is ashamed and secretive about what happened with Paul. Jeremy, on the other hand, shows himself to be kind and understanding.

I enjoyed reading about how Cam and Jeremy have been attracted to each other for years. The sexual tension is evident and funnily enough, their friends and family are already aware of their attraction to each other, including Cam’s deceased father, who had made comments before his death.

Even though Cam’s fear of physical contact and the rapid pace of Cam and Jeremy’s relationship may have seemed to progress too quickly, I found the explanation and pacing of their physical relationship made sense because of history back in high school. It also did not hurt they were attracted to each other at the time. Regardless of his feelings for Jeremy and his closeness with best friends Kennedy and Patrick, Cam still refuses to talk to anyone about what happened between him and Paul. Although I found Cam’s hesitance and feelings of shame understandable, it still drove me nuts that he would refuse to talk to any of his friends. To add insult to injury, Cam ends up with a stalker whose actions escalate and put both Jeremy and Patrick in grave danger.

I would have like more information as to why Cam was targeted by the stalker as the whole situation just popped up and the explanation was a bit weak, but the writing and editing were otherwise solid, and the consistency between the two authors was excellent in this installment. We are also treated to a more in-depth look at Patrick, another long-time element in Cam’s life who is referred to briefly in True North and who is featured in Wild Angels.

Wild Angels

Rating: 4 stars

wild angelsFollowing the events of Picture Perfect, Patrick Hawkins is sent to convalesce at the home of his former lover, Julian, and Julian’s boyfriend Jack, in Northern Alberta for a month. Unfortunately, Patrick refuses to take his prescriptions, which sets his recovery back. Patrick then meets closeted bartender Brad Wilde, and while the two are getting to know each other, Julian and Jack’s neighbor’s daughter Hallie goes missing.

Wild Angels takes a different direction from True North and Picture Perfect in that the primary focus is on Patrick, whom we were briefly introduced to in the two previous books. Patrick, the consummate slut, appears to be your typical alpha male. He is strong, snarky, and loyal to a fault, yet sensitive, with a surprisingly fragile side. He realizes that he is tired of being left behind by his friends who have all fallen in love, and yearns for love himself. We delve deep into Patrick’s psyche the more we see he is afraid of what he wants most, someone to call his own.

Even though Julian and Patrick have been apart 10 years, Patrick had still not moved on and always harbored hopes that he and Julian would get back together, but a hot “don’t touch” threesome where Jack and Julian have sex with Patrick watching reinforces the fact that Julian has moved on and that like it or not, Patrick needs to do the same. I found that the dynamic between persons past and present adds to the world we are visiting. Cam and Julian love Patrick like family, their bonds are very strong and show the character of the individuals.

Since the characters are all coming together, the dynamics become more evident and the stories more complex. World building is also top-notch. I found the characters to be varied and believable, each demonstrating different strengths, weaknesses and senses of humor. There are many places where we see a deep level of interconnectedness between all of the characters, both main and secondary. I will admit that the sub plot featuring Hallie’s disappearance was weak and felt poorly thought out. Although we could infer what had transpired, a little extra information or build up the tension would have helped advance the story line.

Broken Wings

Rating: 4.25 stars

broken wingsWe continue Patrick and Brad’s story in Broken Wings. I really enjoyed delving deeper into Patrick’s character, and so if you have not at least read Wild Angels, grab a copy and give it a read before diving into the final Lost Boys and Love Letters book.

At the end of Wild Angels, Patrick returns home to Ontario, and once there, has difficulty settling back into his life without Brad. Meanwhile, in Alberta, Brad also misses Patrick although he manages to cope with the separation more effectively. When Brad’s grandmother passes away, Patrick is the first person Brad thinks to call and Patrick drops everything to be there for Brad. In the midst of Brad’s grief, he also has unexpected issues with one of his clients which add to his stress.

Both men love each other but Brad fears that Patrick is not ready to hear “those three words.” Patrick, on the other hand, feels that he is not worthy of being loved, and if he lets his guard down, he fears being abandoned similar to how his family abandoned him when he came out. Patrick’s fear of love and commitment is so deeply ingrained that his behavior becomes self-destructive and volatile. In the end, Patrick makes the only logical decision and follows his heart.

I feel like Patrick, my little (tattooed and pierced) boy has grown up as we see his tender, sweet side revealed. I noticed a nice progression in his emotional maturity and felt the sex had progressed to making love, with all of the tenderness you would expect from a couple who are deeply invested in each other. Now don’t get me wrong, the sex scenes are hot, as these boys are pretty darn active in that respect. Brad, on the other hand, does not really fill out in terms of personal growth. Perhaps this is because the focus of the story is Patrick and his struggle for self-acceptance. Fortunately, the lack of additional growth by Brad was not detrimental to my enjoyment of the story, as he felt more like a stabilizing influence in the relationship.

The Lost Boys and Love Letters books introduced me to a great variety of characters who were well defined and likeable. Main characters in one book had cameos in other books, which added some nice continuity to the series. I will say that at times, I felt that the story lines were a bit exaggerated, there were some realism and editing issues that bugged me, but overall, even with these issues, I still really enjoyed this series. My overall rating for the series is 4 stars

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.
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