Black John (Johnnies #4) by Amy Lane ~ Audiobook Review by Christine

Black-John-coverTitle: Black John (Johnnies #4)

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Story Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars

Release Date: 03/20/2015

Length: 10 hours 41 minutes

Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance

Summary:

John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible – and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative – and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.

Story Review:

When John Carey, recovering addict and owner/creator of the Johnnies porn site, returns to Florida to deal with the mess and aftermath of his friend Tory’s suicide, he meets Tory’s neighbor, Galen. Galen struggles with addiction, as well, but offers his assistance. As the two work together to clean up and deal with the chaos Tory left behind, they confront their demons and learn that recovery has many meanings and sources, including the most powerful of all, love.

Amy Lane never seems to shy away from the brutalities of human struggle, and Black John certainly is no exception. An honest description of the horrible ugliness of addiction, this story is not easy to read, but its appealing characters and its slow reveal of who John is and how the whole Johnnies porn business began makes it a fascinating addition to this series.

The true stars of this novel are, of course, the characters. From the description, Galen doesn’t sound very appealing or likable. He spends a good deal of page time under the influence. However, he was a gigantic bright spot in this story for me, and I wanted more of him and the development his relationship with John. He is broken and battered but still lovable and a southern gentleman, through and through. He is a calm, rational voice within the chaos of John’s misery, despite his own battle with addiction, and I found him to be a most interesting and sympathetic character.

Frequent flashbacks help to create a firmer understanding of John and his flaws, as well as the genesis of the entire Johnnies business. Though I felt that these continual breaks into the past expanded and fleshed out John’s character the series backstory, they were lengthy, a bit distracting, and sometimes hard to follow in the audiobook version. I appreciated their value and importance, but a good portion of time was spent on John and Tory’s relationship, youth, and the inception of the Johnnies, which I felt the took away from the development of John and Galen’s relationship. For me, this made John and Galen’s connection feel underdone and at times awkward and negative. This is probably due in part to the addiction aspect and the difficulties experienced by the characters, but it felt too casual without enough emotional attachment between them. That being said, things did solidify later on in the story, and I felt their bond was much stronger and more believable as further events unfolded.

I would encourage potential listeners who have read the previous Johnnies books to re-read them as a character and event refresher prior to listening to Black John, and I feel this is an absolute must for listeners new to the series. I think I would have enjoyed Black John more if I had re-read the other books first, as I struggled a bit to recall the backstories of the various characters and past events that are frequently mentioned in this installment. The hazards of “meno-fog” may have had something to do with that, but really, what kind of hardship is it to be introduced to or to revisit these beautiful Amy Lane characters? 😉

Though it didn’t have the same impact for me as Chase in Shadow or Dex in Blue, Black John is a story that needed to be told, and it is an important addition to the Johnnies series. I highly recommend it.

Narration Review:

Gomez Pugh does an admirable job with the narration of Black John. Though the accents felt a bit heavy at times, the emotional tone of the story was interpreted well, and the characters each had their own personalities and were clearly represented.

Links

Black John (Johnnies #4) on Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks
Audible

I would like to thank the author for providing me with the audiobook of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
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,

Brandilyn
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