Author ~ Josh Lanyon
Publisher ~ Carina Press
Published ~ 16 November 2015
Genre ~ M/M Romantic Suspense, New Adult
In this fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper from multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon, twentysomething Jefferson Blythe gets lost, gets found, falls in love and comes out…all in the span of one wild summer
After his first relationship goes disastrously awry, Jeff Blythe uses his savings to tour Europe—the old-fashioned way. Armed with his grandfather's1960 copy of Esquire's Europe in Style, Jeff sets off looking for adventure but finds much, much more than he bargained for…
In London, dodging questions from shady criminals about a mysterious package he most certainly does not have is simple. Losing the gunmen who are convinced he's someone else is not. And when George, an old friend, offers him help—and a place to stay, and perhaps something more—things become complicated.
Is George really who he seems? And is Jeff finally ready to act on his attraction?
From Paris to Rome and back again, Jeff and George fall for each other, hard, while quite literally running for their lives. But trusting George at his word may leave Jeff vulnerable—in more ways than one.
Josh Lanyon is one of my favorite authors, and has been for ages. She has created at least two classic series: The Adrien English Mysteries and Holmes and Moriarity (not Sherlock), plus a host of exciting and well-written stand-alone titles.
Jefferson Blythe is definitely cut from the same cloth as many of the author’s other protagonists: an innocent, hapless young man, mild-mannered, and not very adept, who somehow manages to figure out the mystery and get the drop on the evildoers.
Dumped by his fiancée upon graduation from university, he uses the money he’d saved for his honeymoon to take a two-week tour of Europe. It was his grandfather’s suggestion. It appears that granddad is the only member of the family with any spunk. Jefferson’s parents spend a great deal of time and energy maintaining a façade of wealth and propriety, and expect their son to do the same. They’re simply not very concerned with his own desires or dreams. But grandfather wants Jefferson to take a brief journey onto the “wild side”, a chance to spread his wings and experience the world.
And that’s exactly what Jefferson intends to do. The book opens at London’s Heathrow Airport, where Jefferson arrives, and his surreal adventure begins. Some crazy young woman accosts him at baggage claim, disdains his “disguise”, and tries to force him to go with her. He takes off for the underground station, dodging crowds to lose the insane girl who seems to think she knows him, though he’s never been to England (or for that matter, anywhere in Europe) before.
He manages to elude the girl and make his way to his aunt’s townhouse. She’s out of town, but was generous enough to offer him her home while he’s in the UK. Unexpectedly, her son, Jefferson’s obnoxious cousin, is about to get busy with a girl and won’t even let him in the door. He leaves him stranded, in the middle of the street. With neither a hotel nor the wildest idea what to do next, he calls the only other person he knows in London, his childhood friend, George.
George is several years older than Jefferson, but the two were always close, until they weren’t. In fact, Jefferson’s refused all communication from George for the last four years. The estrangement between the men came about when George admitted he was gay. Probably because Jefferson had had a crush on George for years, he turned his back and ran away, deeply wounding the faithful and protective George to the quick. You see, Jefferson refuses to acknowledge that he’s gay. He’s not only in the closet, he’s in denial, because if he were gay, his parents would not approve and, like so many gay romance heroes, he’s still pretty stuck in the “pleasing the parents” thing. Fortunately, George is kinder to Jefferson than Jefferson’s been to him, and reluctantly gives him directions to his flat, where George will put him up for a day, until he can get into his aunt’s town house or a hotel room.
George, however, is not exactly what he purports to be, an editor at a small classics boutique publishing house. His apartment is ultra-modern and appointed expensively. He obviously has a lot more money than an editor of obscure intellectual books should make, and there are no obscure classics on his bookshelves
Nonetheless, he comes to Jefferson’s rescue time and time again. That is, each time the crazy girl shows up with a massive goon and tries to kidnap, assault, or attempt to kill him. And the crazy girl has an uncanny ability to track him down. George breaks the goon’s nose, rescues Jefferson from a kidnapping, gets the police off his back, and sends him on to Paris, where a new guy follows him, loiters outside his hotel and then chases him through the streets – until George mysteriously shows up in Paris to render yet more assistance.
Not that Jefferson is entirely inept. He was a track star in college, and he can really run. But more important, he’s smart as Hell and has already made serious progress in figuring out where this whole dangerous case of mistaken identity came from and where it’s ultimately headed. At first, it was to get an “egg” back from him – an egg he knows nothing about. But eventually, it’s about killing him to keep him quiet.
Also like other Josh Lanyon plots, it’s sort of an intellectual take on “The Perils of Pauline” - but with a gay man, a potential love story and a colorful travelogue underlying this dangerous, and sometimes hilarious, tale of crime and terror.
The author uses a most unusual device to plot the journey, “Esquire’s Europe in Style, 1960”. It’s the guidebook his father used on his European Tour, more than 50 years ago. It’s a breezy, thoroughly out-of-date, guidebook to the Europe of 1960, which adds a great deal of levity to Jefferson’s travels and our perceptions of England, Paris and Rome. It’s a charming conceit.
Ms. Lanyon also supplies a host of red herrings to misdirect the reader up until the very last moment. And though the final mystery isn’t exactly challenging, it’s huge fun to watch it unwind.
One of the great delights of this book is watching Jefferson’s coming of age – his decision to finally cut the apron strings, come out, and do what he wants, not what his parents expect. After all, there will be no George in his future unless he finally becomes his own man. It’s truly moving to watch Ms. Lanyon’s masterful and subtle writing slowly reveal the protagonist becoming more confident and capable, growing through his trials, right before your eyes.
Here’s hoping there will be more to follow. We’re all due for a new Josh Lanyon series, with her lovable (though sometimes oblivious) protagonists, their infinitely more worldly lovers (cops, spies, etc.), and her gentle and authentic prose. The characters are nothing less than charming, the challenges daunting - and more than a little dangerous, the plot propelled by tons of action, and a happy ending to make your day.
Josh Lanyon is back, in fine form, with more of what made us fall in love with her superb writing in the first place. Don’t miss Jefferson Blythe, Esq.