Changing Focus, Source of Protection, Rewriting his Love Life (Ashe Sentinel Connections Bks 1-3) by D.J. Jamison ~ Book Review by Queue

AsheTitle: Changing Focus, Source of Protection, Rewriting his Love Life (Ashe Sentinel Connections Bks 1-3)

Author: D.J. Jamison

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: D.J. Jamison

Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 10/01/2015

Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)

Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Mystery

Blurb:

Changing Focus: When two Ashe Sentinel staffers are thrown together to cover breaking news and bullets fly, it’s an eye-opening experience.

Jorge is new to the Ashe Sentinel, and it’s not going well. The staff doesn’t respect him, and a confrontation with the sexy but arrogant senior photographer only adds to his stress. But after Mac puts him in a situation that nearly gets him shot, Jorge realizes he doesn’t know as much about being a newsman as he thought he did.

Mac is frustrated by Jorge’s inability to see the big picture. Journalism is about more than grammar and spell checks. When a stand-off gives him the perfect opportunity to teach Jorge a lesson, he seizes it — but immediately regrets putting the gorgeous editor in danger.

In the aftermath, Jorge earns Mac’s respect. But can Mac apologize enough for his behavior — and his inappropriate apologies that follow — to ever earn Jorge’s affection, or will he lose his chance to the police sergeant with a flirty smile?

Source of Protection: The only place Sgt. Rick Wilson seems to meet eligible men is at crime scenes. That generally doesn’t work out so well for him. Last time it happened, he was rejected by Ashe Sentinel staffer Jorge Ortiz. But when Rick finds himself with an armful of gorgeous murder suspect, he can’t help but be intrigued. When it turns out Will McCall may be more victim than criminal, he becomes determined to protect him despite the risks — to his career and to his heart.

Will McCall moved halfway across the country to get away from his ex-boyfriend. After 5 years of abuse from the Oregon police officer, the last thing he needs is another man with a badge in his life. But as the threats to his safety mount, he can’t help wondering: Is Rick the one man he can trust with his life and his heart?

Rewriting His Love Life: Archer is tired of being the “boy next door” who gets dumped by his girlfriend and has an embarrassing crush on his boss. But when he researches the possibility of using a dating site while at work, he gets busted by his night editor — the very crush he’s trying to move past. Not only does night editor Jorge Ortiz love the idea of Archer trying out a dating site, he loves the idea of him writing about it for the paper even more. Despite his uneasiness, Archer agrees because he’s more than ready to meet his next love connection, girl or guy.

Tyler is finally moving on after years spent trying to be a good husband. When a day of moving hell leads to a midnight meeting with his cute, geeky neighbor, Tyler thinks it’s a stroke of good luck. The two fall into a quick friendship, and Tyler can’t help wishing for more. But Archer’s uneasy about dating too close to home, and you can’t get much closer to home than the same building. Can Tyler break down his barriers, or will Archer always hold him at arm’s length?

My View:

This series of books were enjoyable reads with interesting characters and unique plots. Usually with series I enjoy the first book more than the sequels, but in this case it was the opposite. The first book was just meh, the second book somewhat better and the third really, really entertaining.

All the books are set in Ashe, Kansas and the local newspaper the Ashe Sentinel.

Book one features two employees of the Sentinel—Editor Jorge and photographer Mac. Right away the two don’t get along because Jorge cut off part of Mac’s photo and changed his cutline. I spent a handful of years as a reporter so I have some experience in the newspaper industry and it was always up to the editor what they did with pictures and cutlines. It was the photographer’s job to take the picture and nothing more. As a result I found this drama somewhat unrealistic. However, according to the author’s bio she worked in newsrooms for many years so it’s possible things are different all over.

Jorge and Mac report to a scene where a shooting is occurring and Mac thinks it would be funny to try and get Jorge in trouble. His practical joke backfires and Jorge ends up in danger instead. From then on both Jorge and Mac look at each other differently.

The romance and relationship is fairly by the numbers here and the newspaper setting isn’t utilized for what it could be. The characters don’t have much depth and I never really cared about them or the relationship.

3 stars.

Book two features cop Rick Wilson, who was seen in book one and is Mac’s ex-boyfriend. Rick meets Will McCall when Rick finds Will kneeling by a dead body. Rick doesn’t really suspect Will but he is drawn to him. In fact, Rick and Will are both attracted to each other with no real reason.

This book hit on one of my favorite tropes—hurt/comfort. There’s nothing I love more than seeing a big alpha male protect a smaller man. That’s one reason I liked this story more than the first one, but there still isn’t a lot of depth here. We mainly skim the surface, though there is more character development with Will than there was with Mac and Jorge.

The story addresses a serious issue here; physical abuse. Will is running from his abusive ex-partner, a cop. Will’s trust issues are displayed perfectly here and Rick had to earn Will’s confidence and love. I did like Rick and Will’s relationship but their sex scenes were nothing special.

Most of my issues here come from non-plot related events. There are a couple grammatical errors (your instead of you’re) but my biggest complaint is the inconsistent spelling of the word break-in. The use of the hyphen is the proper way but six times the hyphen is not used. Every time I saw breakin it pulled me out of the story. Then, inexplicably, toward the end of the story the correct use of the word is shown. Minor complaint, I agree.

There were also a couple procedural items that bugged me. In the beginning of the story when Rick comes on the scene and sees Will with the dead body he doesn’t announce that he’s a cop. To Rick’s credit, he does consider this later.

Another niggle I had was this scene:

Sirens screamed in the background as Rick held up his gun, barrel pointed to the sky, and lowered it carefully to the ground. Once it was there, he kicked it a few feet away.

I know this happens all the time in TV and movies but it’s not accurate. In real life police officers are trained to never give up their weapons regardless of what’s happening. Yes, it’s used for dramatic affect here, just like in other media, but it’s one of my pet peeves.

Overall this story was a pleasure to read.

3.5 stars

Book three was my favorite of the series and showed the author’s talent and skill far better than the other stories.

It actually utilized the setting of the newspaper and was overall a unique tale. It does have a rom-com type ending which I don’t normally enjoy but I did like it this time because of the characters, who I loved.

Rewriting His Love Life stars Archer, an editor at the Sentinel. Archer, who is bisexual, has been nursing a crush on his co-worker, Jorge, despite the fact that Jorge is happily dating Mac.

There’s a romantic comedy type meet cute when Archer helps Tyler, a new neighbor, move in. They’re both interested to each other but don’t realize the other is interested in men. Tyler is freshly divorced from his wife and is dealing with the pain he inflicted on her during their marriage when he was denying his true sexuality. There’s some anger between Tyler and his ex, but by the end of the story they’ve worked things out and are on the path to being friends. I liked that she wasn’t pained as a harsh harpy like so many women are in this genre.

The plot revolves around Archer’s desire to meet someone using various dating apps while writing a column about his dating woes. One of his earliest dates is a disaster and also absolutely hilarious. In fact some of his dates reminded me of my single days. Horror.

The POV was much deeper here than in the first books. I really got to know both Archer and Tyler and enjoyed reading about them and their relationship. There were also much better descriptions of the characters as well as the settings. I was able to picture everything far more than I had in the previous books. I don’t know how far apart Jamison wrote the books but I would say her skill improved a great deal between the first and the last book.

The conflict between them was realistic and something I’ve dealt with in the past. Even though Archer liked Tyler he was sure they wouldn’t make it long-term and that was something Tyler couldn’t deal with.

“But if I’m already another ex in your mind, there was never a chance for us. You’ve written me off.”

Archer has to overcome his issues before he can imagine a future with Tyler.

I enjoyed the lack of sex in this story. It wasn’t needed and I liked seeing the men bond without relying on fucking to do so.

4.25 stars

I’d recommend this series to readers with the caveat that Jamison’s writing isn’t as strong in the beginning as it is in the end. Each book can be read as a standalone so you could read the third one first, then go back if you want to know about the other characters. If you do start with book one, be patient and finish the entire series. Overall the series is rather good.

I’ll round up and give the series 3.75 stars.

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Links

Changing Focus, Source of Protection, Rewriting his Love Life (Ashe Sentinel Connections Bks 1-3) on Goodreads

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC 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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