Title ~ Because of Jade (Vasquez & James #5)
Author ~ Lou Sylvre
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 23rd May 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance
Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.
Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.
Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.
Opening up and starting to read Because of Jade, I was immediately reminded of exactly why I love this series and the characters so much… their love for each other. Pure and simple, it is profound, it’s like being wrapped in a warm comfort blanket, knowing all is right with the world. Ten years on, and their relationship has been through the ringer in more ways than one, but that love, my god, Lou Sylvre certainly has a way with words and effortlessly conveys how much these two men mean to each other. It felt like coming home. The joy of seeing old friends again, with the certainty that they will always be there, united and solid… I tell you I just want to bask in it, true romance in every sense of the word, and talking of words, back to Lou, whose writing style is just lyrical, beautiful… I had the biggest smile on my face with Sonny and Luki, they just make me happy.
Luki, after five years has finally been given the all clear with his cancer, definitely something to celebrate, which unfortunately doesn’t last long when they hear the tragic news that Luki’s nephew Josh and his wife Ruthie have both died leaving behind their five year old daughter Jade. With Luki and Sonny being named as guardians.
Luki’s strength, even in grief comes to the fore as he takes charge, but he needs Sonny, who temporarily, due to his past becomes distracted with doubts as to his ability to be a parent to Jade. But as with any five year old it doesn’t take long for Uncle Sonny to become smitten and assured that he too is just as vital to her future as Uncle Luki.
What I like about Because of Jade was that we actually get to see Luki and Sonny enjoy life, with Jade they are now complete in a way they hadn’t thought possible, she binds them, bringing them even closer, and together they are a family… school runs, car pools, mini vans, poodle pyjamas and my little ponies to prove it. As a mother the domesticity of it all was adorable, watching these two men adapt, and focus all their attention on their little girl… who so quickly has become the light of their lives.
It was all going so well, something I’m not used to with Sonny and Luki and I did start to become a little concerned that this was very sedate for my boys, I was missing the push and pull of angst and drama that seems to go hand in hand with Luki and Sonny. But I should have know better… Evil in this book comes in the guise of Ruthie’s estranged sister, who pops up out of nowhere to contest the adoption of Jade… and yes, you’ve guessed it, she is a homophobic, religious zealot.
Nothing is ever simple for these guys, they have had to fight tooth and nail to overcome adversities that would have sent most of us running in opposite directions. But not Vasquez and James, for them it only compounded their love, made it stronger, an unbreakable bond no matter the shite that life throws at them. Together they are a force to be reckoned with gaining strength and courage from each other. I am just as smitten with them as Jade is!
I understand why Lou Sylvre concentrated a lot of this book on their relationship, giving them space to just love and be loved. Over the series we have rarely seen them in a normal situation, just allowed to be happy. Sonny still comes across as innocent and pure of heart which is the perfect fit for Luki’s protective nature… they have such a sweet and endearing relationship, which may be soppy to some, but I have been through hell and back with these boys, they have endured more than others could ever in ten life times, so in my eyes and ten years on… my boys deserve it.
There was one sex scene, that didn’t play quite right in my head, made me feel a little uncomfortable and I found it completely out of character for Luki to play the role of dominant. It just didn’t work for me, not because I’m a prude because as you know, dark erotic BDSM is definitely my favourite genre. But Sonny and Luki are too sweet for that and it was just all wrong on page. The other sex scenes, ardent, wanton, hot and heavy sex… and their anniversary night was perfect.
Because of Jade was a 3.75 star read for me, however, I love these boys and as I was just so happy at the end, I have rounded it up to four because yet again, my boys deserve it!
From 23rd May – 7th June you can purchase Because of Jade at 20% Discount from Dreamspinner press with discount code JADEBOOK
Welcome Lou Sylvre!
Hello! I’m Lou Sylvre, and I’m very thankful to Monique and Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews for inviting me back to kick off my blog tour here, celebrating my newly released Vasquez and James novel, Because of Jade! I’m calling this tour, The Further Adventures of the Vasquez-James Family. And now, without further ado, here’s the first installment.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Home from the Car Lot
Ever since Sonny realized he would be strapping Jade into her car seat for the next year or so, he’d been telling Luki they would be buying a minivan. Once Luki understood Sonny hadn’t intended that as a joke, and once he saw how bending into the Mustang or even the Mercedes troubled Sonny’s sore back, he got right on board with the idea. Then, Luki being Luki, he ran with it.
Jade would be starting kindergarten, and if she took the bus she’d be riding it three hours every school day. “That’s a big chunk out of a little girl’s day,” Luki said, ignoring Sonny’s dump-truck imitation as he helpfully loaded sugar into Luki’s coffee cup.
Not answering, Sonny said. “One of these days I’m going to go on e-bay and see if I can find a bucket-loader shaped sugar dispenser.”
Luki rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t stop a chuckle from escaping. He kissed his husband loudly, but not very sexily, and said, “I love you, baby, but pay attention.”
“I am.” Sonny took a sloppy drink of his own coffee, then continued before Luki could argue. “If she’s in school six hours, and on the bus three, and sleeps ten, we’ll practically never see her. We’ll have to drive her.”
“We’re lucky we can do that! I feel bad for all the kids and parents who live out this way and won’t have...” He drifted off, staring into his coffee cup, then started chewing his lip to help him think. “Have the same luxury,” he finished, almost talking to himself. Then he turned to Sonny, “How many do you suppose there are?”
“Not many—most of the land out here is owned by logging companies.”
Luki nodded. “So,” he said, plunking his almost empty cup down on the table, having decided. “Have minivan, will carpool.”
Jade wanted a minivan too. “A purple one,” she’d once specified, and Luki had concluded that choice most like came because purple was the color of Flowerbelle, Jade’s favorite My Little Pony. When the morning of the planned van-shopping outing arrived, however, she and Flowerbelle seemed oddly subdued. And, strangely enough, Sonny had a case of minivan-buyer’s cold feet. Here’s how it happened.
So, Luki was set on the idea of a carpool, Jade was all happy about it, and Sonny knew it was for the best. He didn’t know why he wanted to stall. Wasn’t thirty-nine about the right age for such life changes like minivans? Hell, they already had the kid! Soon enough there would likely be soccer or ballet or horses or some damn thing. Maybe all those things—Jade should certainly have them all if she wanted them—and the whole lives of the Misters Vasquez and James would be taken up running children around a muddy peninsula in an upscale minivan.
No more stalling, though. Luki had insisted last night that today must be the day. Sonny sat on the edge of the bed and kissed Luki awake, and then chuckled when Luki reflexively pulled him close.
“Baby,” Luki said in a hissy whisper.
“Gotta get up, Luki. Minivan shopping.”
“It’s here, but I warn you I ran out of sugar after half a ton.”
Luki chuckled once, loosening his hold so that Sonny could sit up again. His eyes seemed to struggle open, and then, after clearing his throat, Luki growled, “Better kiss me first then, so I won’t notice.” But he kept his lips tightly closed as Sonny kissed them—which he always did in the morning before he’d brushed his teeth—and then pushed Sonny away, rising to a sitting position. “Back away, sweetie. You’re making me hard, and that little girl of yours will be popping in here any minute.”
Jade would always knock if the door was closed, but it wasn’t, and sure enough she sauntered in with Flowerbelle before Luki had swallowed his first sip from his coffee mug. She seemed in an odd mood, hugging them both, smiling, but not saying anything at all. She still said nothing as she forced Sonny and Luki in turn to kiss Flowerbelle.
“Good morning, Jade,” Luki said. And then, in response to her raised eyebrows, he added, “And Flowerbelle.”
By the time they left the house, had breakfast at IHOP, tried a car lot in Port Angeles, drove instead to Olympia, purchased a van to be picked up the very next day, and headed home the scenic route—up highway 101 along beautiful Hood Canal, the long summer afternoon was settling into still-bright evening, and the Vasquez-James family was hungry.
Fortunately, Sonny knew just the place—a hamburger joint in Hoodsport. They stopped, ordered burgers, and though Luki didn’t say much, being totally preoccupied with his favorite of all foods, Jade kept quite busy rounding up Flowerbelle and her baby, helping them graze on fries and allowing the baby just a little milkshake for dessert. Sonny, for his part, had his work cut out too, making sure Jade ate more of her food than she wore or fed the Ponies, and then making up the words to a lullaby for the baby, whom Jade had wrapped in a napkin-blankie so he could take a nap.
When it was time to go, Sonny explained to Jade what bussing the table meant, and asked Luki to demonstrate. Which Luki did with alacrity and panache, sweeping the table clean of garbage and crumbs, loading it all on the tray, and dumping the garbage. He turned around to take a bow after the performance, and Jade picked up Flowerbelle and skipped all the way back to the Mustang.
Hunger solved, long day behind, and dusk falling over the serene canal, Jade fell asleep not five minutes into the ride. Sonny and Luki held hands and spoke quietly in the front seat, complimenting themselves about having made Jade happy that day—even though she’d started out kind of sad, missing her mommy and daddy. But then, after they’d been on the road for half an hour or so, just when Luki was about to say something about passing a town named Liliwaup, Jade began to cry.
It was the most misery-filled, high-pitched whine Luki had ever heard, and when he glanced at Sonny he saw the poor man cringe.
“Jade,” he said, gently but firmly, trying to get her attention, “What’s wrong, little girl that I love? Do you have a tummy-ache?” He truly hoped not, because he had no idea what to do for a little girl’s upset stomach.
“Flowerbelle’s baby!” Now Jade was almost screaming. “He’s gone!”
Luki unbuckled, trusting Sonny to keep him safe despite Jade’s shrill cries blasting his brain, and looked around the back seat, trying to spot the little Pony. But realization dawned all at once and he turned back around, slapped his forehead, and mouthed, “Fuck!” A quick glance at Sonny’s dropped jaw and wide eyes told him Sonny knew the truth, too. Unspoken agreement passed between them and as Luki re-buckled and tried to talk to Jade, Sonny began shifting down, preparing to flip a quick U-turn.
“You’re the one that put him in the trash,” Sonny said. “You’ll have to dig him out.”
“Jade,” Luki said. “Stop crying, shorty! We’re going to go get him back.” He really wasn’t sure he could make good on the promise, but he hoped. His words had no effect at all on Jade, and when he reached around to take her hand, she started crying harder. And poor Flowerbelle seemed beside herself with grief.
Luki looked over at Sonny and whispered, “You could have said something.”
“I didn’t see! I was too busy watching you perform for the cute little twink taking orders.”
“I wasn’t doing that!” Luki caught himself before saying he hadn’t even noticed the twink. It would have been a lie, and although he could lie better than Sonny, he still couldn’t lie very well. Sonny would know. And he could tell Sonny’s mercurial temper had edged right up to its restraints, so he just repeated, “I wasn’t!” That much was true.
Sonny pursed his lips and breathed deep. After a minute or so, he looked contrite. “I know,” he said and stepped a bit harder on the accelerator, heading south for the search and rescue.
The customers had all left, the closed sign had been hung, and only one vehicle was in the parking lot when they got back to the burger stand—a small pickup with a rainbow bumper sticker. In true detective fashion, Luki sat still and observed before exiting his vehicle. He saw lights come on in the back lot—where the corner of a dumpster could be seen from his present position. He heard a door slam.
Sonny said. “I think he’s taking the trash to the dumpster.”
Jade, whose sobs had quieted somewhat, said, “I’m sorry, Flowerbelle!” and started crying harder again.
Luki got out of the car and trotted around back just in time to see the last tied black bag get tossed into the big metal box. “Um...”
The twink seemed very glad to see Luki, and proved quite helpful, pulling one of the chairs over to make it easier for Luki to climb in. He even assisted by pushing on Luki’s butt—which meant he was a very brave young soul. Luki fairly leapt the rest of the way into the dumpster, lost his footing on the goo-coated plastic mounds, and fell flat on his back. He would have popped right up to give the boy a scowl and possibly a lecture about liberties, but his tall husband hove into view, and the twink, who was now standing on the chair, was still looking up at him.
If Jade had not been in Sonny’s arms, sobbing into his neck, Luki would have been thinking about the safest way to put himself between Sonny and his target. As it was, Sonny scowled down at the kid, but said, rather quietly and with careful emphasis, “Are you okay in there, husband?”
Luki struggled to find a foothold, stood up, and said, “Fine, baby,” feeling lucky and a little breathless. Which was, he thought, a strange way to feel while standing in a dumpster.
Sonny said. “‘Kay. Jade and me are going to sit right over there under the light.” Here his voice got a little louder. “Where I can plainly see everything that happens over here.”
So while Jade and Sonny sat on a log surrounded by weeds at the edge of the lot, Luki pulled garbage bags out of the dumpster, set them on the ground, and sorted through them, putting all the very gross things that were not Flowerbelle’s baby Pony into a bag-lined can provided by the more-helpful-than-ever twink. After he’d gone through two bags, he had a system. After three bags he thought about giving up, but then he looked over at Jade and saw the saddest tears he’d ever, ever, ever seen, he bent back to the task and kept looking.
Luki found Baby Pony halfway through bag five. At which point he almost burst into tears himself. After thanking the helpful boy—whose name was Bob, of all things—and re-tossing all the garbage, He made his way over to his family, and gently offered Jade and Flowerbelle the Baby Pony, who had somehow remained clean of ketchup and other goo. Jade actually cried harder, then, but happily Luki thought, as she hugged the ponies close.
Sonny reached into Luki’s shirt pocket and retrieved his also remarkably clean white hankie, wiped Jade’s tears and held it to her nose. “Blow,” he said.
She did, but as is the case with all small children, she didn’t really get it, and the blow was totally ineffectual. Nevertheless, Sonny balled the hankie up and with a clean spot, wiped some very disgusting remnants off Luki’s shirt. He smiled, with love written all over his face, and Luki smiled back.
“Don’t hug me,” Sonny said, “until after you’ve had a shower. ‘Kay?”
“’Kay,” Luki said, and laughed right out loud.
I hope you enjoyed my story! Thank you for reading. I’d love to have you join me tomorrow at the Dreamspinner blog for my official release party (that’ll get you some more raffle entries too.).
Series Reading Order
In the spirit of celebration, I’ve got a Rafflecopter giveaway set up, two prizes up for grabs.
1st prize: An ebook copy of Because of Jade + $15 in book money good for anything in the Dreamspinner Press Catalog.
2nd prize: any previously published Vasquez and James ebook + $10 in Dreamspinner book money.
Answer this question in a comment here to enter: What’s the strangest or worst or funniest thing you ever left behind in a restaurant or other public place? Other ways to enter, too, for more chances—see the rafflecopter.