Narrator: Paul Morey
Length: 13 hours, 48 minutes
Three years have passed since Sam Kage took off without a word, leaving Jory Harcourt recovering in his hospital bed. What was supposed to be a short stint undercover to catch the bad guys who were involved in kidnapping and shooting Jory, instead turned into a complete absence from Jory’s life for years. Jory has long accepted that things are over between him and Sam, and is doing his best to move on with his life after the pain of Sam’s abandonment. While he has had another relationship that lasted a while, mostly Jory has been living a wild life of random hookups every night, trying to mask the pain he feels for the loss of the love of his life.
When Sam suddenly reappears in Jory’s life wanting him back, Jory is determined not to get involved with Sam again. The pain of losing him once was way too much and after having such an on and off relationship before Sam left, Jory doesn’t have faith that Sam will stick around this time either. But Sam is determined to get Jory back and isn’t taking no for an answer. He has been biding his time until his life was in order and now the one thing he needs to make it complete is Jory. Jory tries his best to resist Sam, but the love and affection he has for Sam is too much to ignore, and Sam finally convinces Jory to take him back.
Once the men are finally back together, life is really good for the two of them. Despite his brother Dane’s outrage and the concern from his friends, Jory is thrilled to have Sam back and they are quickly settling into a serious and loving relationship. However, trouble from the past threatens to ruin their happiness. It turns out that those murders of the Jory look-alikes everyone thought were the work of Dom were actually from a different killer. It appears this serial killer has set his sights on Jory, and suddenly the happiness he has found with Sam is at risk. The men have finally found their way back to each other, but with a killer on the loose, both their lives are in danger.
Like the first A Matter of Time volume, this one is divided into two books (parts 3 and 4 of the series). Whereas the books in the first volume felt very much like one long story, these two books have very distinctive plots and my reaction to them differed. Book 3 pretty much focuses solely on Jory and Sam reuniting. We catch up on what has been going on with everyone (Dane is married, Jory and Dylan have opened their own graphic design agency), and see Jory is kind of at loose ends without Sam. Then Sam comes charging into his life again and suddenly wants Jory back. Much of this book is back and forth as Sam is determined that Jory will be in his life, and Jory tries to hold him at bay for fear of getting hurt once again. Sam is pretty much at his alpha male, bullheaded best here, and I think your reaction to this part of the story will depend on whether you think his determination is sweet or if he is undeserving of Jory. I think I fall mostly on the annoyed at him side. He abandoned Jory when he needed him and stayed out of his life far longer than necessary with absolutely no communication. The idea that he deserves Jory back just because he wants him frustrated me quite a bit, and I found myself irritated with his stalkerish behavior as he wears Jory down.
Now once they are back together, I loved Sam again, and really enjoy these guys as a couple. Sam still is growly and alpha and bossy, but we see how much he loves and adores Jory, as well as how much Jory loves Sam’s possessive behavior. Sam is finally willing to open up about his feelings, and he is sweet and expressive and really makes clear his love for Jory. So it took me a while to get on board, but once Sam wins Jory over, I couldn’t help but find them a lovable couple once again.
The fourth book focuses primarily on the suspense plot as they try to figure out who is behind the serial murders. It is clear that he has been killing men who look like Jory, and soon his behavior escalates to bombing, kidnapping, and even more killing, all closer to home than ever before. This part of the book is exciting, suspenseful, and really thrilling. At one point I thought I had it all figured out, but Calmes give us a great mystery and kept things just twisty enough that I could follow the plot without giving it all away. This thriller plot is what really sold this book for me and I loved all the twists, suspense, and excitement.
Ok, so where I ran into trouble here is mostly the same places I had issues in the first book, and that is primarily Jory. On one hand I loved the guy. He is a great narrator. He is sweet and fun and full of life and will do absolutely anything (include run headlong into trouble) for the people he cares about. But he is one frustrating guy, let me tell you. As with the first book, once again EVERYONE loves Jory. Pretty much every guy he encounters wants him desperately, and once again, we get begging ex boyfriends and hookups, not to mention new folks who can’t resist him. There is at least one character who seems to be in the book for the sole purpose of wanting to be with Jory. He has no other role at all. And it is not just men; women all love him too. He is like a pet. They all tell him how gorgeous he is, they are always touching him and sighing about how wonderful he is. I will say it is toned down a bit in this story versus the first volume, but still over the top.
Jory is also still kind of oblivious a lot of time. Despite people practically hurling themselves at him, he rarely seems to notice. I mean, he has a guy he thinks is a friend hug him close, rub his back under his shirt, and sigh deeply with longing as he puts his head on Jory’s shoulder, and still Jory can’t believe it when Sam says the guy likes him. For someone who is such a people person, who is able to read a room and get along with anyone, he has a shocking blind side when it comes to recognizing other people’s attraction to him. But yet at the same time, Jory gets himself out of one dangerous situation after another, purely on the strength of his personality. He takes constant risks, seems to have no sense of his own safely, and ignores the concerns of people who care about him. Jory often puts the needs of others before himself, which is admirable, but he also puts the needs of those with whom he has casual relationships ahead of the men in his life who truly love and need him, Dane and Sam. The men are begging Jory to stop his investigation into the killer, to come back to the hospital where Sam lies injured, and Jory ignores them to try to help someone else. I couldn’t understand why everyone else in the world was more important that Dane or Sam’s feelings.
Ok, so that sounds like a lot of complaining, but truly I loved this story. Calmes does a wonderful job of pulling these two volumes into one long and fabulous story. Things from the first volume reconnect here and everything ties together so nicely. Issues I thought were loose threads came back to be important parts of the story and it all just really works well.
I reviewed this one on audiobook so I will note a few things about that as well. First off, I continue to think narrator Paul Morey does a great job with the key voices of Sam, Jory, and Dane. They all fit their personalities so well, and remain really consistent across the two volumes. They are all quite distinct and it is easy to tell one from the other. The secondary characters aren’t all quite as clear and in some cases sound a lot like each other. But as I noted the first time around, there are a LOT of characters here, so I can understand the difficulty of making them all totally unique. The tone and pacing both work well and the narration is clear and comfortable sounding. My only question mark is that Jory so often seems blasé and breezy in the face of other people’s concerns. He will agree or acknowledge their feelings in a way that sounds like he is humoring them, or doesn’t really understand the depth of their worry. It occurs to me that I think this may be less of a problem of the story itself than of the way these scenes are narrated, as Jory’s breezy “oks” are a choice of inflection by the narrator more than of Calmes’ writing. It is hard to tell not having read the books in print, so I am not totally sure, but it is worth noting.
So yep, I am totally hooked here. Yes, you need to sort of take Jory’s magnetism and Sam’s alpha bossiness with a bit of a light touch. Both are sort of extreme, but they are also part of what makes these guys endearing. I really love them together and am willing to overlook a lot for the enjoyment of seeing them happily in love and moving forward with their lives together. This second volume really gives us a great treat with an exciting thriller plot that kept me totally engaged and is really detailed and well developed. I am eager to continue with the series and learn what else is in store for Sam and Jory.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.