Title: Stormin' Norman
Author: Sue Brown
Rated: 4.5/5 Smooches
Lyon Vet Series” Book Four
Dan had been Jesse’s partner for many years, and always there for Jesse on his return from difficult assignments. However, after breaking his promise not to leave again, Jesse learns to his cost that Dan can be pushed too far. When he returns home, broken in body and spirit, Jesse finds his house empty and Dan in the arms of someone else.
To fill his life, Jesse decides to get a dog. His friends and neighbours take him to choose a puppy. What he doesn’t expect is for Norman to choose him. As Jesse takes on a new job, with Norman’s assistance, he realizes that Dan isn’t far away, and he still loves him. Dan has moved on with his life. Can Jesse do the same?
“Jesse loved his job. Loved every dangerous, hellish moment of it. And the thought of giving it up, even for the man he loved, sent shivers down his spine. He was born to do this job and if he could never tell anyone about it that was a small price to pay.”
In book three of the Lyon Vet series, Hazel Takes Over, readers meet Dan and Jesse. Evan and Peter, Jesse’s neighbors, are surprised to discover that Jesse has a boyfriend.
Dan reveals that he and Jesse have been together for six years. However, because of Jesse’s top secret job, which involves a lot of traveling, the two men have spent about half of that time away from each other. Jesse’s cryptic job involves secret undercover work for an undisclosed government law enforcement agency. Jesse is not allowed to talk about his job. He never knows when leaves for an assignment, when he will be returning. And that creates a lot of stress and tension for both men.
Dan confides in Evan that if Jesse leaves again, he will not wait for him. In the last book in the series, Stormin Norman, that is exactly what happens.
Dan has reached his breaking point at the beginning of Stormin’ Norman. He loves Jesse, but he cannot handle being abandoned again. He knows Jesse’s job comes first, but this time it is different because Jesse promised he would retire and not leave again. Dan uprooted his life to move closer to Jesse, but their relationship is at a standstill, and Jesse is leaving, again.
Dan gave a derisive snort. Seriously? Do you know what the hell you’ve just done to me? You promised you were through. Promised you would resign and we could be together.
“I screwed up.”
“No shit Sherlock.” Dan brushed past Jesse and grabbed his trainers from where he’d left them in the hallway.
“Where are you going” Jesse asked.
“Home. I need to think.”
“Don’t go Dan. We can talk about it.”
Dan curled his lip. “I don’t think there’s anything left to talk about. You made the decision without even taking to me – as usual.”
Jesse tugged at his hair in frustration. “For God’s sake, Dan. Stop being such a drama queen.”
“What the fuck do you expect? I warned you what would happen if you left me again.”
The Lyon Vet series consists of four stories that explore the relationships of six men who are in various stages of their relationship. In this last book of the series, Sue Brown explores what appears to be the end of an established relationship. Despite the reader’s initial impressions of Jesse and Dan, these men really do love each other. It is the unconditional part of their relationship that they cannot reconcile though. Dan wants to settle down with Jesse, and Jesse, who loves Dan in his own way, cannot commit to settling down.
Dan no longer trusts Jesse, and the men seem to have some serious communication issues. Although Dan and Jesse are both likeable characters, their actions are not very likeable. Both men are unsettled and in emotional pain. Although readers may take issue with both Dan’s and Jesse’s actions, Brown does a great job letting the reader see the motivation for those actions.
Unfortunately it takes the two men going their different ways to understand how deep their feelings really run. When Jesse finally realizes what he has given up and wants another chance to fix things, Dan is out of patience and trust.
God. Dan’s expression … he was so sad. “The point is no matter how long I wait, you’ll always put the job first. I’m not prepared to take second place any longer. I need my life back. ‘Bye, Jesse. Stay safe.”
He walked out of the kitchen. Jesse stared after him, unable to move for a moment even as his brain was screaming at him to get the hell after his boyfriend. Then his limbs unlocked from their stasis and he ran after him, but it was far too late. The front door clicked and Dan was gone.
Jesse returns back from his mission. He seems lost, and he is hopeful that Dan will be receptive to him again. That hope is extinguished when Jesse discovers Dan has moved onto a new relationship. Jesse officially resigns from his job. His first mission is to adopt a dog.
Peter picked up a collie, who wriggled frantically. Jesse was worried that Peter would drop the pup so he grabbed him. Immediately the puppy settled into his arms, yawed and fell asleep. Peter chuckled and patted Norman’s head. “You’ve been picked mate.”
Jesse stared down at the dog. “Norman? But he was just helping me choose.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “He clocked you the minute you walked into the room. Evan got him out to see what he would do. You’ve given him a name, for heaven’s sake.”
Peter held out his hands. “Do you want me to take Norman off your hands so you can look further?”
Jesse took a step back, clutching Norman to his chest.
“Shall I sort out the paperwork?” Evan asked.
Jesse wanted to punch the smirks off their faces – once he’d made sure Norman was safe.
As Jesse adapts to his new life as a temporary dog trainer, he tries to have some fun, but it is clear his heart still belongs to Dan. He tries to ignore his feelings, but he keeps running into Dan and Mickey, Dan’s new boyfriend. After all, they do have the same circle of friends and live in the same neighborhood. Not only has Dan has moved on, but he tells Jesse that he loves Mickey.
Jesse is heartbroken, but tries to move on with his life. Dan, despite his claims that he has moved on is confused. He says he loves Mickey, but he still has feelings for Jesse, even though Jesse took him and their relationship for granted. Dan is ready to cut all ties to everyone to start fresh.
Brown does a wonderful job developing these characters throughout the series. Dan and Jesse have many faults, and that touch of realism is why the Lyon Vet series, especially this fourth book, is so engaging. Stormin’ Norman is not filled with a lot of action, but it does explore another side of romance often not seen. Brown’s writing style is engaging and not overly dramatic or elaborate, which gives this story a dose of charm despite the angst. The ending of the story is perfect and the epilogue connects the final puzzle piece for the story.
Thank you Sue Brown for providing a review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.