Title: Because of Jade
Author: Lou Sylvre
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Because of Jade (Vasquez & James #5)
A Vasquez and James Novel
Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.
Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.
Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril
“You, Sonny Bly James, are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to the world.”
As many hundreds of times that Luki had said those very words, Sonny never got tired of hearing them and never got the feeling Luki meant them any less than with his whole heart. But there was more to the refrain, and Sonny wanted to hear the rest. He smiled back, and then said, “And?”
“And I love you.”
Sonny laughed. “I love you too, husband.”
Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are back. These two men have been through hell and high water in this beautifully written, engaging series by Lou Sylvre. Now it is time for some happiness and peace in the final book of the series. In typical Sylvre fashion though, the road to happiness has a few potholes along the way.
“Sonny knew the instant the phone rang that something had happened, something dreadful. By thirty seconds into the call, Luki’s face was turning to pale stone, his eyes—Sonny could see in the mirrors—had gone wide and unblinking as if they’d been propped open with toothpicks. Luki’s part in the conversation consisted of whispered, “Yeah… okay… right,” and then he ended with, “On our way now.”
Luki fumbled with the phone, apparently managed to end the call, and sat back in his seat so straight-spined, so still, Sonny wasn’t sure he was breathing. He started to feel panicky. What could it be that affected Luki this profoundly? What could he, Sonny, ever do to take care of Luki—who appeared to need caring for at the moment? He was just deciding whether he should pull off at the next coffee shop or rest area, when Luki started pointing frantically toward the side of the road.
“Pull off…. Sonny, pull off!” His voice barely had any air behind.
In the previous books in this series, Sonny and Luki have been shot at, threatened, kidnapped and lost loved ones close to their hearts. Luki, the badass, has put his life and heart on the line for Sonny at every turn. The gentle and lovable Sonny became the strong caretaker as Luki battled cancer and depression. There is an intense bond between Luki and Sonny, and the reader becomes a voyeur to this passionate connection thanks to Sylvre’s talents.
Because of Jade reunites readers with this couple who has now been married for 10 years. At the beginning of the book, Sylvre lulls the reader into a sense of peace. Luki and Sonny are a loving couple who seem as affectionate with each other now as they did at the beginning of their relationship. The heat is still present with some sweetness and romance thrown in for good measure.
Luki floundered. Unsure why the news should have hit him that hard — he cared, of course he cared, but he was used to dealing with bad news and unwanted developments. But whatever the reason, when Kaholo broke the news to him, it felt like a razor split him in two. His mind floated while his body panicked: heart racing, breath fled, limbs numb, and gut roiling. He didn’t feel the ground when he hit it, but after he vomited, he became aware of where he was and how he got there.
Thank all the saints for Sonny. For his care, his touch, his voice. His fucking persistence.
If Sonny had not held him and pushed and pulled until he came back to reality, Luki wasn’t sure he would have come back. He might have been content to stay there on the ground, on all fours like an infant or an animal, for hours. Days. Forever. But Sonny touched him, held him, and insisted with his questions, until Luki regurgitated what he knew. And it was that moment, when his own voice made it real, that he came back to himself. Like an old man, he let Sonny—sweet, young, Sonny—help him up and dust him down and get him back into the car.
Just as the married men are ready to slide into their comfortable lifestyle, tragedy strikes, again. In a bittersweet irony, the sadness brings something wonderful into their lives in the form of a little girl: Luki’s niece Jade.
Luki and Kaholo had gathered the fixings for a meal from Ruthie’s supplies—surely she had shopped for them the previous day, looking forward to their visit. They’d prepared a variety of dishes, and everyone had gathered around the table to fill their bellies. As food does, it brought them together and made their situation somehow tolerable. But not easy. Brian was on his way from London after all, but hadn’t arrived yet, and Jackie seemed to be hanging on by a thread. He shook all the time, he hadn’t slept. He was the first to mention how wrong it felt to be there in Ruthie and Josh’s home—just an apartment, more or less low rent with Southern California’s ubiquitous palm trees, hibiscus, jasmine, and oleander on view from the windows. But the young couple had made it a home in the truest sense of the word. And now they were gone. Leaving their home intact, untouched by disaster. Leaving their child, sweet, precocious, precious Jade alone with a gaggle of men who had never been parents trying to determine how to save her future.
Sonny and Luki welcome Jade into their homes and lives with some angst and a lot of love, but, as usual, outside forces try to break up their happy family. The drama that follows is heart wrenching.
They were all quiet for a moment. It seemed an odd puzzle, and clearly Mavis harbored ill will, but why? Luki dismissed it with some effort, telling himself she was simply one of those people that never had and probably never would get rid of their homophobia. At fifty-one years old, he’d certainly endured hate before. Her vitriol felt strong, but he honestly didn’t think she had any power to hurt him or his family.
So, when Lula said, “Just don’t pay her any mind—she’s just a bitter woman. The world is full of them,” Luki nodded and smiled, winked at Sonny, and got out his reading glasses. Sonny snorted, hiding but not hiding a chuckle, which Luki knew was a deliberate tease about the pince-nez. Which were silly, but no matter, they helped him see.
Of course, just as in real life, hate causes tears, anxiety and chaos. Hate, intolerance and violence, once again, cause havoc to the James-Vasquez household, but Sonny and Luki are fighters and refuse to allow others to take what they love. Just like Sonny does with colors, Sylvre weaves an intricate and wonderful story with her words that keeps readers on the edge of their seats and, at some points, reaching for the tissues.
That night Luki lay awake next to his husband, the most beautiful person the world had ever seen, and cried. Silent. No racking sobs. Simple tears falling one after the other to wet his pillow. He couldn’t have explained exactly why, what, or who the tears were for, and for once he didn’t have enough fight to try to stop them. They became oddly comforting to him, like friends, so that after each one melted away he had to mourn its passing with another, and another. An endless
chain. He wasn’t sure if this condition, crying for something indefinable, might be permanent.
He had hoped Sonny wouldn’t wake, wouldn’t know. That was either too much or too little to hope. Of course Sonny knew, and as Sonny sometimes did, he limited his response to that which was wise. He turned toward Luki and lifted a hand to cradle his head, letting his long, beautiful, expressive thumb gently wipe back and forth where the tears rolled down. And he said, “Husband, I’m sorry it’s all dark and you hurt. I’m here. I love you.”
Because of Jade is a beautifully written story, and Sylvre’s writing talents shine on every page of this novel. From the descriptive prose and engaging dialogue to the words of endearment and hot sex scenes, this is a wonderful ending for an engaging series.
Thank you to Lou Sylvre for providing an Advanced Review Copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.