Vasquez & James: Book Three
Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it's perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki's status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.
The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.
I was very disappointed with this story. I love this series, I love this couple, and I was so looking forward to this book. But after the beginning wedding scene, the story became rough with poor writing which set a tone for me that was hard to get out of. The novel improved a lot and the second half was very good, but this was not up to the author's usual standards.
The first part of the story was primarily info dumping, even when it didn't have to be. Instead of taking the reader through a scene, the author would start the next section after the scene had happened and then tell us what happened in that scene we didn't see. In addition, there was way too much description of stuff that didn't need to be described. Showing doesn't mean describing every detail.
Once the story eventually got going, there was plenty of action, drama, danger, thrills and chills. The plot was good and although kind of predictable, aspects were a surprise. The pacing improved but it was never that great. The characters were wonderful and the women were strong and capable (although for once I'd like to actually see a woman in on the action rather than just on the phone).
There's no doubt that these two men loved each other very much. Even when they had to confront a very real issue between them, they were angry and cold for less than a day even though they hadn't resolved the problem. Even when they hadn't officially made up yet, their love for each other resulted in them being there for each other when it was important. As a result of their passionate love, the sex scenes were really hot. For me, sex scenes written about people in love are almost always hotter.
The wedding was incredibly beautiful of course, almost as good as the one in Home Work by Kaje Harper, which is so far my favorite storybook wedding scene.
Luki's vows set the tone:
I don't want to tell you Sonny's vows because it might ruin a beautiful and emotional scene. But if you want to hear something he says here it is:
Here are some more good things:
The dog was wonderful, even if he was a little too smart.
I didn't mark this as BDSM because it isn't BDSM--it's abuse. The book makes this clear and I really like how they handled the subject, how they differentiated between abuse and what BDSM is supposed to be about:
"...He understood immediately what Brian meant by "kink", and why that might make Jackie--who was small, anxious, and used to being accepting abuse, likely not experienced enough to know where decent players drew the line..."
"...[He] never really thought he wanted a shit-ton of pain. What he wanted was the feeling it gave him to give up control to someone who knew how to cultivate his bondage; who cared to take him past the place he was afraid, where he couldn't trust, where he couldn't feel, to a new place where he was safe. But...safe and sane, that's what it was supposed to be."
While I personally don't get how giving up control and doing something that scares you will make you feel safe, I understand that for many people, that's what BDSM is about. It's what my friends who practice it say. This a respectful view of BDSM and clearly distinguishes it from excessive pain, torture, and abuse. Even if I don't completely understand something, I believe that what happens between consenting adults that isn't really harming anyone (temporary bruising, minor burns that are gone quickly, etc., don't count to me), is between them only. When books portray BDSM as being something tortuous and abusive, where people give up any and all control and all rights permanently, is disturbing and disrespectful to those perfectly healthy people who enjoy it. I really like how the book shows that a boy confused about who he is because of past abuse can enjoy kink but not want abuse disguised as BDSM.
It was very cool that Brian knits (although it's weird that he does so the first night he's with his new boss to work on the disappearance. He should be trying to impress Luki, not make it seem like he's just hanging out).
Here are some not so good things:
Why didn't Luki use nicotine gum or patches to stop smoking? It was an extremely tense time.
They never explained why (minor spoiler)
Jackie was often TSTL.
The author has a character acknowledge that a tourniquet is bad but uses one anyway. You can use a belt to hold a pressure bandage in place instead of making it a tourniquet by strapping it up-limb from the wound. What you do is pad the wound heavily then strap the belt across the injury. This lets some of the skin free between the padding and where the belt comes back to the skin which allows arteries inside to shift enough to allow some blood to flow freely. You accomplish the same thing without risking losing the leg due to oxygen starvation.
The improper use of first aid in books leads to ignorance which in real life situations can cause additional, often severe, injury or even death. (Another biggy is that you never pound on the back of someone who's choking. If you can't do the Heimlich Maneuver, do CPR chest compressions which will attempt to expel air, which will hopefully dislodge whatever is blocking the airway.) I seriously wish everyone would take CPR/First Aid for the sake of their loved ones.
It was never explained who was (minor spoiler)
I wanted to see the aftermath of the ordeal. I felt robbed that we didn't see get to see (major spoiler)
I hope that in the future we'll see a book with (major spoiler)(show spoiler)
The timeline was off. (medium spoiler)
Actually there was stuff that the book tried to explain but that never made much sense. It felt like much was inserted in order to make the story more suspenseful instead of figuring out how to really make the things work with the story. (several big spoilers that are revealed by 3/5ths of the way throughout the book)
See? None of that makes sense--much of it is contradictory--nor is the complicated sequence of events necessary to the plot.
I'm left with a potentially five star book being a 3.5 for me.