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Saturday, February 13, 2010

'The Dark Tide: Adrien English #5' by Josh LANYON


From the BLURB:

As if recovering from heart surgery beneath the gaze of his over-protective family wasn’t exasperating enough, someone keeps trying to break into Adrien English’s bookstore. What is this determined midnight intruder searching for?

When a half-century old skeleton tumbles out of the wall in the midst of the renovation of Cloak and Dagger Bookstore renovation, Adrien turns to hot and handsome ex-lover Jake Riordan -- now out-of-the closet and working as a private detective.

Jake is only too happy to have reason to stay in close contact with Adrien, but there are more surprises in Adrien’s past than either one of them expects -- and one of them may prove hazardous to Jake’s own heart.

This is the last book in Josh Lanyon’s ‘Adrien English’ series (*tear*).

A lot has changed since the events of ‘Death of a Pirate King’. It’s only been five weeks in the series timeline, but Adrien is recovering from open-heart surgery and Jake Riordan has retired from the force and come out of the closet. Jake has made it obvious that he wants a relationship with Adrien now that everything is out in the open – but Adrien is still recovering from the war wounds Jake inflicted two years ago and is reluctant to lose his heart again.

This book delves deeper than ever into Jake and Adrien’s relationship and their respective personalities – in particular, Adrien’s. We’ve known from book 1 that because of his heart murmur Adrien was living on borrowed time. But in ‘The Dark Tide’ his surgery means that he’s gained longevity and will most likely live to a ripe-old age. A lot changes for Adrien now that he isn’t scared of dying – and we see a few of his walls and defenses come crumbling down.

The best thing in this final book is the tentative rekindling of Jake and Adrien’s relationship. It isn’t an explosive re-coupling, but rather a slow burn indicative of the hurt Adrien endured because of Jake’s self-hatred. A lot of dirty laundry is aired and lots of pink elephants are finally addressed.

“I’m begging,” I said.
He looked at me and grinned. “You never begged in your life.”
“I suppose you have?”
An odd expression flickered in his eyes, a sudden recognition of something in the distance – or the past. “I begged for something once.”
To be straight? That would be about right. Or did he mean it in a sexual context I didn’t want to know anything about?
I said drily, “And did you get what you begged for?”
“Yeah.” His voice sounded funny. “I did.”

This is a very satisfying reunion, and entirely romantic. I never thought of this series as M/M erotica – yes, the sex scenes are hot, but above all else Jake and Adrien are an entirely romantic, sweet couple. Never more so than in ‘The Dark Tide’;

He smelled like soap and sleep and bare skin. He smelled familiar. Not the déjà vu familiar of Guy or Mel. Familiar like… the ache in your chest of homesickness, of longing for harbor after weeks of rough seas or craving a fire’s warmth after snow – or wanting back something you should never have given away.

I wasn’t too keen on the murder plot in this book. I didn’t mind that it was a cold case, some fifty-years out of date. I had a problem with the contrite way the murder was made to reflect Jake and Adrien’s life in a ‘Sliding Doors’, ‘what if’ kind of way. It was just a little bit too convenient and mushy for my liking – and I would have preferred the series to end on a hard-boiled bang.

Having read the series I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t released under a more mainstream publishing house. The Adrien English books (and e-books) were released by independent publishers MLR Press (Man Love Romance). Maybe Josh Lanyon never wanted the likes of Penguin and Macmillan to represent his work – maybe he went straight to the experts for his genre and protagonist and never even thought of taking his series to the mainstream. I sort of hope that is the case – I would hate to think of this wonderful series being passed up by publishing conglomerates purely because of a homosexual protagonist and a healthy touch of M/M erotica. If that is not the case though, and MLR Press were the only takers for Lanyon’s series – then I find that very sad. Because these books are good.

Yes, the series does scratch that particularly smutty M/M itch and the romance is gush-worthy and intense. But aside from that, Lanyon is a damn good writer. He borrows from the old-school likes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and puts his own twist on the classic hard-boiled detective novel. He’s written an entirely engaging and enigmatic character in the form of Adrien English and devised interesting sleuthing expeditions to keep his protagonist sharp while also weaving an insanely complex and satisfying romance throughout the series. I have fallen head over heels in love with this series and my heart bleeds to think that there won’t be any more Adrien English books.

You cannot relegate the Adrien English series purely to M/M erotica, because it is above all else a murder-mystery series and a damn good one at that. I have enjoyed this series immensely and really wish that Josh Lanyon would write more books in the series. There’s still a lot of ground uncovered, mainly concerning Jake’s family and his new life as an out homosexual. Regardless, I enjoyed the ride while it lasted.

5/5

I would love to read more of Lanyon’s work – can anyone recommend which of his books/series I should read next?

4 comments:

  1. While I do want to read this series (and will soon - oh that there were more hours in a day!), I've got to say I'm in awe of your review. Wow...

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  2. I totally agree with you, Lanyon's writing is awesome and I wish it got more popular and out there!

    I Loved this book and cried my eyes out with Jake and Adrien!

    I bought two more books by Lanyon, books one and two in anothes series of his..

    Dangerous ground 1 and Dangerous Ground 2: Old Poison

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3953718.Dangerous_Ground_1

    =))))

    Have you read Blood Magic yet??

    what did you think of Flirt???

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  3. i agree 100% - I wish there was more. This series was soooo emotional for me. I heard that his christmas story (The Dickens With Love) is very good and He has a new series he is starting (Someone Killed His Editor - i think?) I have them both but haven't had a chance to read em yet!

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  4. Dangerous Grounds, Someone Killed His Editor, I Spy Something Bloody, followed by I Spy Something Wicked (both so good)...

    You also have to read LB Gregg - Gobsmacked and Cover Me..ok!

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