5 star series! Little Boy Lost by J.P. Barnaby

This is one of my favourite series. It tells the story of Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield. It is emotional and heartbreaking and so worth reading!

I thought it worth sharing my thoughts on the series as it is currently on special. The 2nd edition (different covers but same content to the books I have reviewed below) are currently on sale from Dreamspinner Press at 40% off.

  • Enlightened (book #1)
  • Abandoned (book #2)
  • Vanished (book #3)
  • Discovered (book #4)
  • Escaped (book #5)
  • Sacrificed (book #6)

Be warned that this series review might be slightly spoilerish as the blurbs for each subsequent books give a bit of the story that has already taken place in the series so far.

5 Stars

Enlightened (Little Boy Lost, #1)Enlightened by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Little Boy Lost is the story of Brian McAllister, the boy next door.

Brian goes to school, does his homework, and helps his foster parents around the house. Brian also has a secret. He is in love with his best friend. In Crayford, Alabama being in love with another boy is the worst kind of sin.

In this first book, Enlightened, Brian and Jamie discover just how deep their emotional bond runs, and at what cost. From fumbling through their first sexual experiences to shrouding every aspect of their relationship from everyone in their lives, Brian and Jamie battle for the one thing that is truly theirs — love. What will they do if their secret is discovered?

So what did I think?

From the opening line, “My name is Brian Patrick McAllister, and I am going to hell.” and launch straight into the pastor’s sermon, I knew this wouldn’t be an easy book.

It is the story, told by 16 year old Brian, of his developing sexuality – his realisation that his feelings for his best friend Jamie, extend beyond simple friendship. These feelings aren’t only sexual though, Brian and Jamie share a deep love for one another.

Living in a small town, Jamie’s parents are deeply religious and Brian is a foster child, worried about losing the only home he has felt wanted in since losing his parents as a young boy.

The boys try come to terms with being gay while trying to hide their feelings for each other from other people. They live in fear of repercussions. The story tells of their pain and is really moving.

“My question is, if god hates gay people and God made us, why would He make people He hated? I thought God was supposed to love everybody? Is it a test? Why me? Why you?”………….”I’m scared, Jamie”.

Warning: there is no happy ending in this book.  The ending is certainly motivation to get straight into the next book. Hopefully, with so many books in the series, Brian and Jamie will eventually get their happy ever after.

Abandoned (Little Boy Lost, #2)Abandoned by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jamie is gone. Brian’s secret has been revealed.

Brian McAllister’s story continues as he tries to cope with the loss of his best friend and soul mate amid the alienation and ridicule of his classmates. When hatred turns to violence, Brian narrows his focus to two goals: surviving and finding Jamie. Along the way he meets Adam, whose life has also been shattered by violence and cruelty. Can Adam fill the hole in Brian’s life left by Jamie’s absence? The answer will change everything.

So what did I think?

This is the sequel to Enlightened and continues the story of Brian, who has lost Jamie and now facing his small town knowing he is gay.

Unfortunately there are those who decide to ‘punish’ Brian with tragic consequences. The story follows Brian as he deals with physical recovery, fights to keep his foster parents and continues to deal with his sorrow at not knowing what has happened to Jamie.

There are some small bright lights in Brian’s otherwise bleak life, such as his loving foster parents.
[ his loving foster parents adopting him, the love of his new friend Adam and the support he gets from Kyle, the art teacher and from his karate coach. (hide spoiler)]

Once again, lots of heartbreak and there is no happy ending but the series continues…….

Vanished (Little Boy Lost, #3)Vanished by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Brian McAllister’s story continues in San Diego, where he finds so much more than he ever expected: acceptance, friends, encouragement, and an entire world of sexual adventure he’d never dared to imagine back in his small Alabama town. He continues to search for one lost boy in a sea of humanity but slowly begins to realize that maybe dreams really don’t come true.

Encouraged by new friends Mike and Emilio, Brian struggles to find work and keep his spirits up while his hope of finding Jamie starts to falter. But when life comes crashing down, he’s desperate to keep his new life. Can Brian do the unthinkable to remain in California when his money runs out? When Brian meets a beaten and bruised boy no one seems willing to help, he knows that walking away is no longer an option.

So what did I think?

The third book in the series sees Brian leave home and cross the country on his search for Jamie. The depth of his love is obviously as he sacrifices a college scholarship and secure future to find Jamie. For Brian, Jamie is his future.

Brian struggles to find work and enough money to fund his search but finds a new home and new friends who broaden his outlook. This book has a different feel to the earlier books as Brian is growing up and starts to further explore his sexuality. However it still filled with sorrow and heartache.

The direction Brian’s life starts to move in definitely was a surprise to me.

Warning: cliffhanger ending and the epilogue indicates that Brian faces many tough times and more heartbreak ahead

Discovered (Little Boy Lost, #4)Discovered by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Little Boy Lost is the story of Jamie Mayfield, a golden-haired fallen angel. Dumped into a gay rehab center and shunned by his parents, the once-adored son of small-minded, small town people has had to find his own way in life.

Jamie is astonished and dismayed when Brian McAllister, the boy he knows is the other half of his soul, explodes back into his precarious life. In the nearly two years they’ve been apart, not a day has gone by that Jamie hasn’t thought of Brian, no matter how hard surviving has been. How can Jamie protect Brian from the pain and brutalization in his life when he can’t even protect himself? Brian and Jamie will put every bit of themselves into saving each other, but Steven O’Dell isn’t the only obstacle keeping the boys apart. Jamie’s own self-hatred may prove to be their undoing.

So what did I think?

This 4th book in the series is told from Jamie’s point of view. We learn more about the pain he has been in since being wrenched from Brian 2 years ago.

“That night, that last beautiful night I held him in my arms, was the last time I had been happy. Even nearly two years later, I could still remember every touch, every whisper in the dark, every promise. That night, that experience changed my life. It made me want to be a better man, to take care of Brian the way that he should have been cared for his whole life. I wanted to go to college and get a great job so that I could be everything he needed. I never knew that I had that kind of capacity to love anyone else.”

Jamie is living in a world of hurt and fear. Jamie and Brian may have found each other again but they are not together. Jamie tries to distance himself from Brian to protect him from harm.

It is difficult to read of the heartbreak both these men are going through and I keep wanting them to have their happy ever after. Maybe in the next book? The whole series is difficult to put down due to the endings and epilogues which drag you straight into the next book.

EscapedEscaped by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Finally together, Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield have risked everything in a desperate escape. Jamie is now free of his tormentor, Steven O’Dell… for the moment. But Brian and Jamie know that one wrong choice could lead Steven to their door.

With the strength of Brian and his friends to protect him, Jamie hides and finds the one person he is truly afraid of—himself. The long, lonely hours in the place Leo found for them to stay leave Jamie with nothing to do but think. He thinks about Brian, about the direction their lives should take. He thinks about his parents, about the industry he left behind. Mostly, though, he thinks about drugs. Jamie wants to feel good again, forget about his self-hatred, and stop the gnawing cravings that prey upon his mind and body even as he tries to start a new life with Brian.

One moment of weakness may prove to be fatal for them both.

So what did I think?

The fifth book in the series, finally brings Brian and Jamie together. However they have a lot to overcome if they are to be happy. Jamie may be away from Steven and his influence but a lot of damage has already been done.

This continues to be a dark journey for Jamie as he fights to get well and struggles with his internal demons.

“I pushed away the thought that he would be better off finding someone whole, because he didn’t want someone whole – he wanted me.”

Once again, lots of emotional moments. Thank goodness I don’t have to wait for the final book to be released but can dive right in.

Sacrificed (Little Boy Lost, #6)Sacrificed by J.P. Barnaby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Reunited with his father but missing the one man he loves more than any other, Jamie Mayfield attempts to put his life back together amid rehab, seizures, and the gutting loneliness of Brian’s rejection. As he tries to cope, Jamie finds that relying on his friends isn’t nearly as difficult as he’d imagined, and soon he can once again stand on his own two feet.

While recovering from his addiction, Jamie starts a new phase of his life at college, working to become the man Brian needs him to be. Only one question remains: Can Jamie earn Brian’s forgiveness and win back his trust, or will their love be sacrificed at the altar of Jamie’s demons?

Brian and Jamie’s epic journey comes to a close in this thrilling conclusion to the Little Boy Lost series.

So what did I think?

“I’m fighting for us. You are everything to me, Brian, and I am not going to give up on us – ever.”

This is the last book in the series and concludes the story of Brian and Jamie. In the tradition of the other books, the boys are not finding it easy to move forward, to get beyond the tragic situation that has been forced on them. Once again they are apart.

Although along with the heartache, here is healing. Jamie is getting his life together and finally has support and friends. Thank goodness he doesn’t give up on Brian and allow him to push him away. “I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think – nothing mattered except Brian and how devastated I would be if he pushed me away. But I needed to try, one more time, just to know that I’d done everything I could. I had to feel his lips against mine even if it destroyed me.

This book is filled with such wonderful expressions of love and the happy ending was worth waiting for!

5 Stars

To find out more about J.P. Barnaby and her books visit her website.

Note: You might be interested to read a slightly different take on this series. J.P. Barnaby, writing as fictional character Jamie Mayfield,  is in the process of releasing the series aimed at a YA audience. The series is called Waiting for Forever. Check out Choices (book #1) which is currently available. Destiny (book 2) is due for release next month (July 2013).

Buy the Little Boy Lost series from Amazon (Click on my Favourites category).

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Books 1 & 2 of The Men of Riverside series by Serena Yates

Men of Riverside explores the lives of a group of men who all share a high school in the fictional town of Riverside, Texas. Not all of them know they are destined to be couples. Some of them believe they are only friends.

Circumstances and life separate them, sometimes for several years. But luck, determination and love will help them get the reunions they deserve.

Reading Order:

  • Finding Elliot (book #1) – in this review
  • Rediscovering Adrian (book #2) – in this review
  • Understanding Mark (book #3)
  • Saving Zeke (book #4)
  • Forgiving Jason (book #5)
  • Loving Vincent (book #6)
  • Convincing Landon (book #7)
  • Helping Harry (book #8)

Finding Elliot (Men of Riverside, #1)Finding Elliot by Serena Yates

My rating: 3.5  of 5 stars

The Blurb…

After five years of forced separation David was determined to find Elliot again but what he gets isn t the closure he was hoping for…After yet another unsatisfying one-night stand David Lear decides it’s finally time to find his former lover Elliot Watkins. He needs closure before he can move on. He is still angry at the man for never getting in touch after his parents moved away when David and Elliot were caught kissing at age seventeen.Elliot Watkins has never forgotten his first and only lover David but lives under his father’s scrutiny, too afraid to come out before he gets access to his trust fund when he turns twenty-five. His fiancee Patricia Hobart constantly nags him and he wants nothing more than to live his own life and to become an architect.Falling back into each other’s arms is relatively easy. But will Elliot be able to free himself from his father’s influence? Will David be able to forgive his lover and have the patience to wait until Elliot is ready?Reader Advisory: This book is the first in a series linked by theme and characters appearing in more than one book. The stories, while they can be read on their own, are best read in sequence.

So what did I think?

I enjoyed this story which tells the tale of David finding Elliot. David and Elliot were in love as teenagers but separated when Elliot’s father catches them kissing and moves Elliot away. Years later, David decides to find the man that he has never stopped loving. He is looking for answers and closure.

I found Elliot a little hard to warm to. I thought him cowardly and his explanations for the separation didn’t seem to justify his actions. It is only further into the story that his behaviour becomes better understood and more acceptable.

The only element of the the book that I didn’t really like was the level of power wielded by Elliot’s father. (view spoiler)[The break and enter with the team of security guards while Elliot and David were in bed (hide spoiler)] seemed a bit overdone and had a lack of realism.

On a side note, usually you get a bit into a book before encountering the first sex scene. Not in this book! This one launches straight in and the first line is David coming! No build up here!

3.5 stars

4 Stars

Rediscovering Adrian (Men of Riverside, #2)Rediscovering Adrian by Serena Yates

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

What happens when the past you’ve been running from finally catches up with you?For the past five years, Peter Adams has convinced himself that his one and only true love, Adrian Shrader, never really cared. Peter has dedicated his life to becoming a private investigator, more determined than ever to keep his memories, and his feelings, locked away. But when a near fatal shooting causes a brain injury, he’s about to discover that his past is anything but behind him.Adrian Shrader disappeared in the hopes that his best friend and lover wouldn’t lose the only family he’d ever known. Aware that Peter’s mother threatened to remove Peter from his sibling’s lives, Adrian’s spent the past few years wishing there was a way to right this wrong. When he hears that Peter is seriously injured and in the hospital, Adrian rushes to his side. Will they be able to rediscover love? Or will history repeat itself?Reader Advisory: This book is the second in a series and the stories, while they can be read on their own, are best read in sequence.

So what did I think?

This was a relatively short story that tells the tale of Peter and Adrian being reunited many years after Adrian had left Peter.

In some ways it is very similar to the first book, teenage boys separated but never forgetting their first love, but in others it is different. The first book had David seeking Elliot who had been taken away by his father. In this book, Peter is not searching for Adrian but finds himself reunited after an accident. The first book focused on the current day and told a little about the David and Elliot’s history. However it is nice that in this book, there are many flashbacks providing a view of Peter and Adrian’s teenage relationship.

This book contains the usual lack of communication and incorrect assumptions being made by the men which caused their separation in the first place and gets in the way of them making immediate amends.

It’s a quick story that cover quite a bit. My main issue with it was the lack of reality in a couple of aspects. Adrian leaves his job to be with Peter and they seem to take but up again with relatively little discussion. Also Adrian clearly forgets all about his brother for weeks even though the last time he saw him he was clearly in trouble. Adrian is regretful but it seems too little too late. I assume the next book is Mark’s story.

3 Stars

To find out more about Serena Yates and her books, visit her website.

Buy the Men of Riverside Series from Amazon.

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Heart of Stone by Ari McKay

Heart of StoneHeart of Stone by Ari McKay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb…

Stone Harrison never knew he had an aunt; he certainly never expected her to bequeath him one of the largest spreads in central Nevada. But something about Copper Lake Ranch and its foreman, Luke Reynolds, speaks to him, offering a chance for the home he’s never really had.

Luke wants Stone to succeed as a rancher and put the legacy of his shiftless father behind him, but he’d also like Stone to share his bed. Unfortunately, Stone is convinced that the world is a harsh place that will never accept two men sharing their lives. Much to Luke’s dismay, he refuses to risk Luke’s life despite the intense attraction they share.

The tension between them escalates when a series of calamities strikes Copper Lake. An unexpected and unwelcome visit from Stone’s dandified cousin, James, only makes things worse. Stone’s ability to run the ranch comes into question, but the threat of losing it means less to Stone than the threat to Luke’s life. Stone will do anything it takes to protect the man he loves—even if it makes him a murderer.

So what did I think?

This is a true cowboy romance that takes place in an historical setting. It portrays that difficulties that face people who are unable to love freely in a time where social expectations are great.

Stone is part Indian and also “a man who didn’t care for women” but his largest fear is for people to think he is like his father who was an abusive drunk. Throughout his whole life he has strived to work hard and to be responsible. When he unexpectedly inherits a ranch, he faces a whole new set of responsibilities and the temptation of Luke.

Luke is the ranch foreman who takes Stone under his wing, showing him the ropes both in terms of running the ranch but also navigating the local social scene.

The beauty of this story is that Stone and Luke share an obvious attraction but the focus is not on the sexual side of their relationship, rather the emotional journey they face. They are both men who do not seek sexual encounters and have been living quietly. Both have focused on their work and fitting in with society as best they can.

Unable to resist, they do share a single encounter which is beautiful as Stone gives himself to the other man. However, morning after concerns arise and Stone’s feelings about his obligations to the ranch and ranch hands mean he is unwilling to continue this type of relationship with Luke.

Returning to a boss/employee status is difficult for both of them as they want so much more and they must also face many issues on the ranch which threaten not only the livelihood of the ranch but their lives.

The historical setting seemed very real, from social customs, dialogue and details of the house and environment. The characters were really interesting and it was nice to see the inclusion of discussion of the relationship between Stone’s aunt and her housekeeper.

Overall a really enjoyable story.

On a side note, I recently read a short story by these authors and although I enjoyed it, there was something missing for me. See my review here. Although it was a very different story, when I started this book I was a bit tentative, worried that I might not like one of the characters but I needn’t have worried. It goes to show that it is worth trying an author/s more than once and not restricting your opinion based on one book/story alone!

4 Stars

For more information on Ari McKay visit their blog.

Buy Heart of Stone from Amazon.

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Catch My Breath by M.J. O’Shea

Catch My BreathCatch My Breath by M.J. O’Shea

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Danny Bright was born to entertain. He just needs his big break. So when he hears that Blue Horizon Records is holding auditions looking for the next big thing, Danny jumps at the chance. It doesn’t turn out exactly as he imagined, though. Instead of getting solo contracts, Danny and four other guys are put into a boy band.

Innocent, idealistic Elliot Price thinks he’s headed for college. An impulsive decision to sing in the local talent search changes all that. A bigwig producer happens to see him, hands him a business card, and turns Elliot’s life upside down.

Elliot and Danny are close from the beginning. They love all the guys, but it’s different with each other. Soon their friendship turns into feelings more intense than either of them can ignore. The other three boys only want Danny and Elliot to be happy, but when their management team and record label discover two of their biggest tween heartthrobs are in a relationship, they’re less than pleased. Danny and Elliot find themselves in the middle of a circle of lies and cover-ups, all with one bottom line—money. They have to stay strong and stick together if they don’t want to lose themselves… and each other.

So what did I think?

This book is definitely worth reading, a modern take on love between two musicians who are part of a boy band.

I’m sure this plot has been done before, band members falling for each other but having to keep both their sexuality and their relationship under wraps for fear of jeapardising their career success, but this story is done really well and with a slightly different spin.

This book is definitely up with the times and presents a very modern scenario that I think we all recogonise! It starts with a music executive offering a group of solo artists the chance of a lifetime, to be part of a boy band. This is followed by the ‘discovery’ of the final member at a local talent show. The group then take part in a reality TV show. They have to live in a house with a couple of other music groups and solo artists. They are filmed constantly, need to participate in challenges, spend time in the diary room and be interviewed regularly. Social media also features strongly with short parts of the story being told in tweets which gives a unique view of the fans view of the band and its members.

It is against this backdrop that Elliot and Danny start spending time together. They are under continual pressure due to the unique situation. They are getting to know their fellow band members, adjusting to their living arrangements, dealing with new feelings for each, trying to manage other personal relationships, dealing with the music execs….

Danny is “funny and adorable” and Elliot “might look like an angel but has a voice like sin.” They are immediately attracted but Danny isn’t in a position to act on his feelings. But the more time he spends with Elliot, he realises he needs to make some changes. “It was like everything else was boring shades of gray, and Elliot was a solar flare, bright and burning.” While Danny is struggling with his new feelings, Elliot is equally struggling “It was hard to remember that they were just good friends……Whenever Danny was in the room, Elliot had to keep reminding himself that anything else existed at all.”

Danny and Elliot finally get together but then enter a complex world involving stress, lies, hiding who they are, fake publicity and lack of support from the record company. The story is not superficial, rather delving deeply into the emotional turmoil of each man. Of course there is a happy ending and in true romance fashion, a heart-felt song written to celebrate their love.

4.5 stars

5 Stars

For more information on M.J. O’Shea and her books visit her website.

Buy Catch My Breath from Amazon.

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