Title: Discovered: Little Boy Lost Book Four
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Cover artist: Catt Ford
Buy Link: Amazon.com Genre: Contemporary m/m, young adult
Length: Novel (200 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
In a nutshell: Jamie and Brian’s angst-filled journey continues in this fourth book in the series, told (for the first time) from Jamie’s point of view.
Little Boy Lost is the story of Jamie Mayfield, a golden-haired fallen angel. Dumped into a gay rehab center and shunned by his parents, the once-adored son of small-minded, small town people has had to find his own way in life.
Jamie is astonished and dismayed when Brian McAllister, the boy he knows is the other half of his soul, explodes back into his precarious life. In the nearly two years they’ve been apart, not a day has gone by that Jamie hasn’t thought of Brian, no matter how hard surviving has been. How can Jamie protect Brian from the pain and brutalization in his life when he can’t even protect himself? Brian and Jamie will put every bit of themselves into saving each other, but Steven O’Dell isn’t the only obstacle keeping the boys apart. Jamie’s own self-hatred may prove to be their undoing.
I discovered the first book in the Little Boy Lost series, Enlightened, eighteen months ago when it was a self-published indie title. Based on positive word-of-mouth (and I like to think, modestly, my enthusiastic review), the series was picked up for publication by Dreamspinner Press, which started publishing the books in 2011, releasing a new book approximately every two months. Discovered is the fourth book to be released this year.
For the first time, the story is told from Jamie Mayfield’s first person POV. It was good to finally get into Jamie’s head; it’s too bad that it didn’t happen until his life was in a horrible downward spiral. While that spiral was what gave this book its dramatic arc, it was not an easy read.
The story opens exactly where book three, Vanished, left off. Jamie and Brian have come face-to-face after almost two years apart. Trouble is, the setting is not what either of them expected—the set of a porn shoot—and it is obvious that Jamie is not in a good place—obviously stoned and obviously abused. Brian is horrified but Jamie is moreso. Thus the story begins.
The first line: “My name is James Daryl Mayfield, and I am in hell,” is a pretty good synopsis of the story. Through present day narrative and relating of memories, Jamie tells the story of his life from the day he was ripped out of Brian’s arms just weeks after Brian’s 18th birthday (the ending of the first book). Now he is living with Steven O’Dell, his manager/drug dealer/abuser/psycho boyfriend. Jamie is frightened, insecure, and more than a little paranoid, although flashes of his sweet personality come through at times. Unfortunately, the latter moments are all too infrequent.
Barnaby paces her stories as a day-to-day narrative which is effective at immersing the reader in Jamie’s life but it is also unrelenting and pretty grim. It also has the effect of making the story a little repetitious (I noticed the same thing in book three). Fortunately, the driving need to find out what is going to happen and the overall good writing keeps the story from getting boring.
Given what Jamie, Brian, and the other characters are doing to make money (making porn films) there is lots of sex in this book and much of it is not romantic or pleasant. There is one heartbreaking scene where Jamie and Brian are put together for a shoot. Despite their wish to remain detached and dispassionate, they can’t, and end up making love in front of a roomful of onlookers and cameramen. I needed more than a few tissues to get through that part.
My quibbles are few and minor. Steven was a fairly major character and I thought he was sort of two-dimensional. I realize that psychopaths might not be the most nuanced people in the world but I had very little sense of him beyond the fact that he was “a big man” with black hair and dark eyes. A little more embellishment of the character would have strengthened the story—although he was such a villain, part of me didn’t really want to know him better. But therein is the paradox of his two-dimensionality. Second, all the characters had their real names and their pornstar names which were used interchangeably. At times it was a bit of a challenge keeping track of who was who.
The following is personal and not meant to be a criticism but more of an observation. As a mother, I cannot comprehend parents who would cast their child out of their lives because he came out to them. I know it happens—I watch the news after all—but on a certain level, this is just unbelievable to me. So, in that respect, a certain dimension of the story requires some suspension of belief. Like I said, this is personal but I imagine I am not totally alone in this feeling.
All in all, this is a very good addition to this very compelling series. The angst keeps ramping up—I cannot imagine what is in store for me in book five but you can be sure I’ll be reading it.
Definitely recommended. Note: If you are new to this series, you absolutely need to read the books in order. They are not standalones. Also, if you don’t like cliffhanger endings, then you might want to wait until all six books are out before getting started. On the other hand, if you were left hanging after book three, like I was (and books one and two, too), you’ll absolutely want to read this one post haste. Two hundred pages and I read it in about five hours. Yup, I couldn’t put it down.