Author: ZA Maxfield
Narrator: Thomas Fawley
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Story Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Release Date: 08/10/2015
Length: 08 hours 29 minutes
Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance
Jacob “Yasha”” Livingston is having a bad day. First there is the head cold. Then the orgy, the fight, and the hospital. Between that and the bus driver who ejects him — after accusing him of transmitting the Swine Flu — the rest of his day seems fairly vague. Now he’s stuck in a small town called Santo Ignacio and he has a whole lot of thinking to do.
One thing is, when fate speaks in the form of an EMT, maybe it’s time to listen. One man in particular, EMT Jason “JT” Lents, with his shy smile and jade green eyes, seems more like an angel than a paramedic. But Jason has a date with a newer, prettier girl every night, despite the fact that he seems to return Yasha’s interest.
What will make JT happy? If JT is afraid of his feelings it might be Yasha’s chance to heal the healer. For this couple to find their way, it’s up to Jacob, his new friends, and the magic of St. Nacho’s.
The Book of Daniel
Daniel Livingston is finally free. He’s come clean about his passionless marriage and moved to St. Nacho’s where he can spend time with his brother. Now he’s ready explore the endless sexual buffet being hot and rich and single has to offer.
The problem is a firefighter named Cameron Rooney who haunts his every waking thought and half his dreams. No doubt about it. Cam is going to require a level of honesty Dan has never before considered, and in order to achieve that, he will have to turn his life inside out. Coming clean to his ex-wife will cost him money, doing right by St. Nacho’s will anger his business partner, and exploring a painful family secret will hurt the one person Dan has sworn to protect.
Cam’s faith in Dan is tested and Dan’s belief in himself is nearly non-existent. In the end, forging a new path could cost him everything or net him the most important score of his life in The Book Of Daniel.
This is my second time to read the St Nacho’s series from ZA Mayfield. For many this is the series she is known for. The first time I read the stories, I enjoyed them, but they didn’t stand out as outstanding at the time. This time, I listened to all four on audiobook. Beverley and PizzyGirl have skillfully reviewed the first two titles in the series for this spotlight. I am going to review the second two titles for you here.
Jacob’s Ladder and The Book of Daniel are narrated by a pair of brothers who end up in St Nacho’s when their current relationships go to hell. We see the couples from the first two books as minor characters, but you can really read these two on their own. I would, however, suggest reading both books together if you want to read Book of Daniel, as you get a better feel for Daniel’s backstory. At the same time; you get to get another perspective on many of the truths you learned about the brothers’ past in Jacob’s Ladder.
Let us start by discussing Jacob’s Ladder. Jacob is in an abusive relationship. It ends in infidelity and violence (on his partner’s part). On the way to see his brother in San Fransisco, he is forced off the bus in the “magical” St Ignacio, California. After a bad spell, between his injuries and illness, he meets Paramedic and Narnia resident, JT Lents.
The main theme of Jacob’s Ladder is JT overcoming his internalized homophobia. Along with that hurdle, Yasha (aka Jacob) has to determine how much leeway he can give JT to find himself. He also has to come to terms with his past abuse at the hands of his ex.
Unfortunately, domestic abuse is not limited to men beating women. Sometimes it is women abusing men or men abusing men or women abusing women. We delve into the some of these various abuse dynamics as Yasha takes his journey in St. Nachos… with the help of a particular abuse survivor we came to know and love in book two.
Finally, we have The Book of Daniel. In this story, Jacob’s brother, Daniel, is the main character. He is paired with Cam, whom we met in Jacob’s Ladder as he (unsuccessfully) pursued something with Jacob. Actually, we first met Daniel in book three as well. Going into the story, we know he has come to St Nacho’s to start over. After over a decade in a marriage trying to be something isn’t.
He is also recovering from a traumatic accident. I think one reason I enjoyed Daniel’s story so much more this time around is my ability to empathize completely and connect with Daniel on this level. While his traumatic injury involved his arm and hand and mine a leg and foot, he faces many of the same struggles I have been facing these four months. So often I have read injury stories and just think “no, no, no. That isn’t how it works.” Maxfield got it right.
Overall, these two books (well the entire series) deals with some pretty heavy topics. However, you aren’t weighed down by them. You are able to empathize with the characters. You are able to hope for a positive outcome for each of these situations. At the same time, you are able to love these characters unconditionally. They aren’t perfect. They don’t always make the right choices, but they learn and move on.
I don’t know if I will be reading this series again, but it will always hold a place in my heart.
This series is the first time I have listened to a Thomas Fawley narration. I was concerned about having the same narrator for all four books since they are all deep first person narratives, each from a different main character’s point of view. I didn’t have trouble switching paradigms between the first three titles. I did have some trouble switching mental paradigms between Jacob’s Ladder and The Book of Daniel.
I think part of the reason for my brain’s reluctance to recognize the point of view shift between the two books is that there are similar themes in both books. Also, there is a lot more character overlap between Jacob and Daniel than there was between the first three books. Finally, as Daniel and Jacob are brothers, there is a lot of similarity in their characters. I think I had a similar issue with the paradigm shift when reading these books in eBook format so many moons ago.
I eventually made the mental shift and enjoyed Fawley’s narration of Daniel as much as I had the first three books.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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.
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