Lisa Marie Davis
Dreamspinner Press, 2010
Jasper Brady’s world was forever changed when his sixteen-year-old sister Monica went missing and was found dead two weeks later. Depression struck the family, leaving eleven-year-old Jasper vulnerable to years of neglect and serious abuse until he ran away.
Thirteen years later, his father is dead, his mother is struggling to reconnect with him, and his sister's murder case is still unsolved. Then Jasper meets Zander Macon, who believes the original investigation of Monica's death wasn’t properly handled. Jasper surprises himself by agreeing to help Zander in any way possible, and it doesn’t take long for someone to respond to Zander’s questions with lethal intent. Trying to survive and solve the case, Zander and Jasper find mutual attraction turning into more, and Jasper will confide the dark details of his childhood while Zander works to overcome his own issues with the past.
Genre & Keywords:
M/M, Contemporary, Mystery, Abuse
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2 out of 3 flames
Why I read it:
I received a review copy from the publisher
It seems that I picked a few reads in a row that deal with abused heroes lately: Talker, Touch Me Gently and now Jasper’s Journey. It’s a coincidence, I’m sure, but it also shows a bit of my preference for emotional stories. I love tormented heroes and can’t get enough of all the different ways authors come up with to let the characters handle their emotions and angst when they meet The One.
Jasper of Jasper’s Journey is such a hero. As a young teenager he suffered from serious mental (the neglect from his parents) and physical abuse (an evil neighbor took advantage of his vulnerability for years). The abuse proceeded from the depressing family situation caused by his sister’s (unsolved) murder.
By the time Jasper meets his love interest he has gone through years of therapy and has managed to build a nice life for himself. The only trace of his past in his current life is the shallow way he prefers his (sexual) relationships to be. He’s a one-night stand guy and only tops. But, as it befits a good romance story, Zander is the one who’ll help him to overcome that last ‘issue’. Of course that doesn’t happen without striking a blow, which treats us at wonderful scenes, like this one:
“A rush of emotions surged through him, and Jasper sucked in a breath, looking at Zander in the harsh parking lot lighting. God, he was beautiful. Jasper wanted to fall into those eyes and get lost in Zander’s warmth, his inner beauty. He had never been so drawn to anyone. But it was all so wrong: the timing was wrong, he was wrong, he was a one-night stand guy, and he had a feeling Zander wasn’t.
Frantically, Jasper searched his mind for something—anything—to say to try and cut through the haze of sexual tension, but his rational side had decided to abandon him, and all he could do was watch, mesmerized, as Zander slowly lifted the hand he held to his lips and, with shocking tenderness, kissed the inside of Jasper’s wrist. Jasper could feel his heart pounding.”
This scene, leading to their first kiss, occurs when we’re nearly halfway into the book. And I actually like it that the heroes take their time getting involved on a more intimate level. But even when it may take a while before they hop into bed together, once they discover lust, love is very nearby and I must say that the speed with which they fall in love seems a bit unbelievable. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasure to watch the sexual tension between these hot guys turn into satisfying smexy scenes. Moreover, these scenes mirror the development of their love nicely by showing the building trust between them.
Additionally, I was relieved that Jasper did most of the healing on his own already, because I’m not a fan of the ‘falling in lust solves all your problems’ kind of plot. That doesn’t mean that Jasper’s abusive past didn’t play a role anymore: it’s not something that just happened in the past but is also part of the here and now. Jasper and Zander are reinvestigating the unsolved murder of Jasper’s sister which brings back the past in spades and apart from this mystery storyline there’s also one in which Jasper and his mother are reconnecting after all those years and which has them reliving the past as well.
These secondary storylines are adding some depth to the plot. Neither is very surprising or innovative - the murder mystery might even be a shade excessive and predictable, with everything coming to a perfect ending - but as supportive elements they are functioning pretty well.
All adds up to a few hours of well-spent reading time, in which I enjoyed two likeable and hot heroes, a romance mixed with suspense and mystery, some sexy smexing and a pleasant writing style. Jasper’s Journey is a great read for readers who love all these elements in their love stories!
Lisa Marie Davis’s weblog | on Goodreads
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