Fascinating covers always draw me to read books and the covers for these two books fitted the bill, perfectly for me.
Titles: Rough Boys: Runaway and Redemption
Author: J. Vaughn
Publisher: Divergent Publishing
A runaway, a dreamer, a gorgeous femme … are they rough enough to survive the brutal city?
This gritty urban romance follows the lives of these three young men as they forge strong bonds of friendship in spite of, or maybe because of, the challenges they face.
Rough Boys – Runaway and Rough Boys – Redemption are the first two parts of a trilogy by J.Vaughn following the lives and loves of three main characters Ty, Dani and Kaedon. I’m reviewing these books together as they really cannot be read as stand-alones, to do so would leave the reader with so many questions and they would miss out on an enjoyable experience.
Runaway, Book 1 of the trilogy, has to deal with the difficult problem of introducing a whole raft of characters. Firstly, we have Ty who runs away from his seriously abusive Father and rather ineffective Mother. Ty escapes his Father’s clutches with very little to his name, after a particularly vicious whipping, which includes his feet. He is also burned whilst chained to the radiator in his bedroom and knows he won’t survive the next beating from his deranged Father. Reaching Heartland City he meets the very ‘femme’ Tommy at the bus station, who is on the lookout for gorgeous young men to draw into the life of a rent boy, living in a house run by the elusive ‘Sally’. The deal is to stay rent free for a week and if the young men want to stay after that, they have to earn money working as a prostitute for Sally. Ty doesn’t want this deal, assuring Tommy that he is not gay. Tommy directs him to a moderately safer place to sleep rough, near the Hospital. Life becomes too hard for Ty on the streets as his injuries are severe and the weather worsening, he becomes very ill. On his way home from his shift as a trauma nurse, at the Hospital, Abe, a 6ft+ muscularly, black man finds a beautiful, homeless boy, Ty, in an alley. Finding the boy ill, he wants to take him back to his ER but Ty refuses, knowing his visit will pop up on a report somewhere and his ex cop father will trace him. Abe takes Ty home with him, carrying the boy when his terribly infected feet fail him.
Abe is very attracted to Ty from the start as, apart from being very beautiful and innocent, vaguely reminds him of his boyfriend who sadly died. Ty spends several days recovering from his wounds, being nursed by Abe and learning to trust and like him. However, Abe is gay and being a genuinely lovely man is fighting his attraction to Ty. When Ty realises Abe is gay and one day receives a chaste kiss from the man, his own struggle with his burgeoning sexuality and prejudice, turns to panic and he runs back onto the streets.
Through Tommy we also meet ‘Dani’, a young man who comes to Heartland City to become a musician or an actor. Dani has it easier than Ty in that he accepts Tommy’s proposal, of a week at the house free, knowing that he will not stay longer and get into prostitution. He is just that bit older and doesn’t have Ty’s abusive background to contend with although he feels the lack of a Father figure in his life. At the house, as well as Tommy, and the elusive Sally, he meets Kaedon, the third of the ‘Rough Boys’. Kaedon is very ‘femme’ and described as a peacock. Very beautiful and feminine, Kaedon is from a strict, affluent Chinese family who do not accept what or who he is at all. They wish him to become a ‘straight’, conservative young man, managing one of the family’s electronic stores. Although Kaedon and Dani share some sexual exchanges, theirs will be a friendship not a sexual affair. Kaedon is eventually taken on ‘retainer’ by rich Japanese business man, Yoshi. However, by book 2 this ‘arrangement’ fails for reasons you will have to find out in the books!
Ty, Dani and Kaedon, encounter many twists and turns in their lives, friendships and loves. Not all of these events are happy and/or healthy. One happy event is meeting the band Leather and its drummer, Nigel and guitarist, Sean. These two characters are going to be very important to the ‘Rough Boys’ and are flawed but ultimately, adorable. By the end of Book 1, Dani is the only ‘boy’ to have his HFN. We are introduced to the nastier elements of life including a drug dealer, hired thugs, abusers and rapists, all who play a part in the boys lives. The first of these books suffers from having to introduce so many characters and settle them into the story. At times the tale became difficult to follow and I found caring about the main characters was especially difficult due to the writing style. These books are very well written and edited but the use of 3rd person omniscient, where the thoughts of all the characters, as well as the speech, are available to the reader has the effect of distancing the reader from those characters, enough to influence this reader’s enjoyment negatively.
This fact and the rather crowded cast of characters, means I gave Rough Boys – Runaway 3*.
Having said this I still wanted to find out what happened to the Rough Boys and I found a far more interesting and absorbing story in Rough Boys – Redemption. There is less of the writing style I spoke of previously though it does still occur and as the characters had been introduced previously, there is more room for plot development and empathic enjoyment.
I felt here I should include an excerpt, which highlights the writing style I found slightly problematic…These are ‘Ty’s’ thoughts during a conversation;
‘…but he is gay! How can I go home with him? Deep within Ty, he knew that he was gay as well, but he had been so conditioned against, homosexuality that he couldn’t accept it…
This quote isn’t from the beginning of Book 1 but in Book 2, we know all this. This style of writing doesn’t allow for the intelligence of the reader to have understood the narrative and feels a little like a writer doubting themselves.
I did enjoy Book 2 more than the first instalment of this trilogy. I don’t want to give away who ends with who, as this is central to the story in this trilogy. I will say that we will find out the ‘pairings’ in this book and some of them progress whilst some seem to fail, or fall behind. There is some appalling abuse in this book, as in the first but it doesn’t feel gratuitous or too stretched out and although Ty’s Father does feel a little like a caricature of the abusive Father, I found myself really rooting for the boys. As Dani gets closer to his HEA, Ty makes great progress towards his whilst Kaedon’s HEA seems further from fruition. There is a great deal to like in this the second book of the trilogy and I shall read number three as I have to find out what happens to these three young gay men and if they get their HEAs.
As this trilogy seems to be improving all the time I’m happy to give this book 3.75*. I do feel that a tighter written two part story rather than a slightly rambling trilogy might have been better but an enjoyable read nevertheless.
Jay Vaughn lives in sunny Seattle, a clean, progressive city that is way too expensive for a writer’s income. Therefore, Jay holds down a full-time, computer-industry day job, but writing is her passion. It’s a hobby-gone-wild, so much so that her teenage kids accuse her of being an addict.
Jay carries her laptop everywhere and can often be seen combining other favorite activities with writing. For example, you can find Jay sitting at a small table in the back of the gay bar around the corner from her house, drinking wine and writing. Or waking up early while camping, dragging out the laptop, and writing. Or writing in the truck on the way to and from concerts, ski-trips, visits to relatives … wherever.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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