Author: Edmond Manning
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Publishing
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/23/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
After years of lying, scheming, and dangerous manipulation, Vin Vanbly finally gets what’s coming to him: love.
How can he survive unstoppable, uncontrollable love when his very nature demands he control everything? Clues about his one true love—tantalizingly hinted at in each of the books in The Lost and Founds series—come together in four life-changing stories.
In No Kings, a sex hookup with a parking lot stranger reveals more about Vin’s life as a Lost King and his destiny than he could have dreamed. In King Fitch, Vin meets the last king in his long legacy, one final King Weekend before he withdraws from the world to an anonymous Latin American jungle. The Lost Ones recounts a terrifying kidnapping by street thugs from Vin’s past. In King Malcolm the Restorer, Vin’s mysterious relationship with his older brother—and the soul-crushing secret which drew them together—is finally revealed.
Through it all, Vin Vanbly struggles to survive. But what if he is destined for more than mere survival? Is he finally ready to embrace the truth and remember who he was always meant to be? Once there were a tribe where every man was the one true king and every woman the one true queen…
I guess this is it for Vin Vanbly. Our peripatetic auto mechanic from Minnesota seems to have kinged his last king. In this fifth volume of the tales of the lost kings, one learns, at last, the whole story. Every question one has had about Vin and his eccentric mission is finally answered.
And it’s every bit as horrible as one might have imagined.
But, that aside, the book as satisfyingly wonderful as one has come to expect from Mr. Manning’s feverish imagination and brilliant, playful, powerful prose. (One does so like the letter p.) More than once I found myself sitting in a public place (on the train, in a restaurant) fighting back tears, even as I smiled over some clever phrase or amusing turn of language.
What is it about Manning’s writing that moves me so? There’s a huge amount of sexual activity in this book, as in all of the previous volumes. But for Manning, sexuality, particularly that between consenting adult men, is sacred. I don’t know how else to describe it. Manning brings an intense, highly secular, spiritual element into sex that simply transforms it. This is not to say it isn’t wonderfully sexy, for that it surely is. But it also stirs ups—and is fully intended to stir up—deep emotional resonance that further demonstrates the author’s ability to pluck those heartstrings linking the heart and the brain, even as he’s tickling your fancy with some very dirty activity. Manning’s prose is both heartbreaking and jizz-tastic. (I stole that word from the author.)
“Come Back to Me” is really four books, by the way. Each major section of this long book has the emotional heft of one of his earlier novels, and feels just as complete in spite of its novella-like length. The four stories are tightly linked together and they’re not uniformly told in Vin’s voice. The fact that Vin sometimes finds himself losing control of his narrative in the earlier books is a motif repeated here, because more than once he finds the narrative voice taken away from him entirely and given to someone else – someone who is very important to him and to us.
We meet Mark, and Kevin. We meet Malcolm, Vin’s brother, of whom we’ve heard before. We meet someone I cannot name, for that would spoil the surprise. We are reminded of other kings and queens, and we are reminded how profoundly Vin loves. In this last story of Vin and his kings, Edmond Manning loves the reader with all of his love. Those of us willing to accept that love are truly blessed.
Actually, there’s one more book in the Lost and Founds. Gotcha.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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