Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2)

Title:Dex in Blue (Johnnies #2)
Author: Amy Lane
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (350 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by jeayci

Review Summary: This would have been one of my favorite Amy Lane stories if I hadn’t felt emotionally manipulated at the beginning and end.

Blurb: Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies.

Dex’s life is a tangled mess now, but the guys he works with only see the man who makes them believe even porn stars can lead normal lives. When Kane, one of Dex’s coworkers, gets kicked out of his house, the least Dex can do is give him a place to stay. Kane may be a hyperactive muscle-bound psycho, but he’s also a really nice guy. What could be the harm?

Except nothing is simple—not sex, not love, and not the goofy kid with the big dick and bigger heart who moves his life into Dex’s guest room. When they start negotiating fractured pasts and broken friends, Dex wonders if Kane’s honest nature can untangle the sadness that stalled his once-promising future. With Kane by his side, Dex just might be able to reclaim the boy he once was—and if he can do that, he can give Kane the home and the family he deserves.

Johnnies Series

Review: Not only did I love Dex in Blue for itself, but it retroactively made me like Chase in Shadow more. That was one of my least favorite Amy Lane books, as I had real difficulty with Chase cheating on a wonderful woman like Mercy. Dex in Blue also had guys who cheated on their girlfriends with other guys, but here it disturbed me less, and the different perspective on Chase helped redeem him in my eyes. This could almost become one of my favorite Amy Lane books, except that I felt manipulated by the beginning and the end, and that left a sour taste in my mouth.

Despite my issues with Chase in Shadow, I loved Dex and I was eager for his story. It lived up to my hopes for it, and I adored Kane. So sweet, so wise, with a heart as big as the Montana sky. I frequently forgot that he was only twenty, as he had a wisdom beyond his years. Despite the actual time-frame being short, this didn’t feel at all like insta-love. I enjoyed the development of their relationship from friends to lovers to lifemates.

Although I loved Dex and Kane, and developed more positive feelings about Chase, I didn’t like as many of these characters as much as I usually do in Amy Lane books. Although she usually writes likeable female characters, there was a noticeable dearth of them in this book. They all seemed to be bitchy, crazy, and/or stupid. I also felt like there was a little too much baby-ness in this book, with a set up for the next one to be Babypalooza. And I think I’m an exception in this, but I didn’t really love the other Johnnies guys, though I am hoping for a future story that will redeem John.

This book wasn’t nearly as angsty as Chase in Shadow, but it had it’s fair share. And for once I felt like it wasn’t all necessary for the story, that the first chapter’s raison d’etre was to manipulate my emotions. So it ticked me off despite being beautifully written and moving. I checked other reviews and didn’t see any mention that, so maybe it was just me and you should take this with a grain of salt. I just really wish the information contained in the first chapter had been disseminated differently. The last page or two also felt unnecessary, like it was there solely to serve as a teaser for the next book.

For Amy Lane fans this is a satisfying addition to the canon, and I highly recommend it. If the issues I mentioned don’t bother you, this might be one of her best. I really grappled with how to rate it. For those who aren’t already fans of hers, I think this could be a good book to start with (it’s really not necessary to have read Chase in Shadow first), with the caveat about potential pet peeves.

18 comments

  • @ me – kkm. not typos – sorry. but editing errors (tenses, modifiers) that made reading grind to a halt to me while i corrected it in my head…

    i get chase in shadow’s angst. as someone who works with traumatized people – that form of thinking and recovery really resonates. i’m even a bit bummed that she downplays naming the bulimia present in the story. (i hope that’s not spoilerish – you know i h8 that!)

    -kkm

    Reply
  • I really liked Kane. He made the story for me. I wouldn’t rec this for readers new to Amy Lane, but to fans who know what to expect….Kane is worth it! *cuinlove:

    Reply
    • Kane is worth it! :biglove: Why wouldn’t you rec this for new readers? My thought is it has the Amy Lane formula, without OTT angst, so it seems to me like it could be a great intro to her work.

      Reply
  • I love all the opinions on this series. I loved Chase and Shadow. I thought the angst was very real and flowed well. Dex in Blue was a let down to me. Very contrived and the pieces all fell together to well in the end. Still, there were several scenes that I liked. I don’t think I’ve ever read an Amy Lane book I hated.

    Reply
    • Yeah, all the opinions are great! :yes: I also don’t think I’ve ever read an Amy Lane book I hated, just some I didn’t love. I can live with that. 😀

      Reply
  • Funny, I loved Chase in Shadow and did not feel emotionally manipulated, but it is an emotionally intense, draining read.

    I passed up Dex in Blue until after I read Chase in Shadow because the opening does sort of stick out like a sore thumb. I think that’s more of a craft problem than a story problem because the original Dex dying so soon afterward is sort of the point.

    I felt a little manipulated by the Kelsey storyline because of the parallels to Mercy in Chase in Shadow and thought some of the things that happened at the end were a little pat.

    Reply
    • I love how we all respond to books differently, keeps life interesting! 😎

      I agree the first chapter was a craft problem, I’m so glad to see you say it stuck out like a sore thumb. Reading other reviews, I got the impression I was the only one bothered by it. 😕

      And yeah, the Kelsey storyline and various other baby-related stuff felt a bit too pat. I really do think the next book will be Babypalooza! 😮

      Reply
  • I so agree with you about Chase in Shadow jeayci, I just never connected with Chase and actually that was the book I felt manipulated by. I think I liked Dex in Blue more than you, mainly for Kane and I have reread it happily – but this is my least favourite Amy Lane series.

    I am looking forward to the last in the Promises series so much. 😀

    Great review.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Raine. 🙂 Dex in Blue is one I can easily imagine rereading multiple times, in stark contrast with Chase in Shadow which I’m unlikely to reread ever. And I agree that Kane really made the book, though I did love Dex too.

      Not connecting with Chase is a great way to put it! Did you also feel like this book retroactively helped you to understand (and thereby connect with) Chase a bit more? I still have no desire to reread it, but I do feel a bit better about Chase now.

      That next Promises book? SO looking forward to it!! :hurrah:

      Reply
      • Yep I had the same kinder thoughts about Chase filtered through Dex in Blue, and like you still couldn’t face the reread…..

        You know I really don’t like the holiday themed books, but Amy Lane is one of the very few writers whose festive work I have enjoyed. I am reviewing her new one. 😀

        Reply
  • I gave this book 4 stars as well. I liked too that it was less angst than CiS. That book was really too much at times. But this one was lighthearted enough.
    I had a bit of issue with how Dex becomes a partner of the business and the whole buying of a pet store and going public. I guess to me it seemed a bit unbelievable but this is not relevant to the story.

    I wish next story’s John’s and not Ethan’s.

    Reply
    • I totally agree that this had some pretty unbelievable bits, and that I wish the next story were John’s instead of Ethan’s. 😀 One earlier version of this review, before I cut it down as insanely too long, mentioned that in my opinion Ethan was little more than cuddly wallpaper. 😆

      Reply
  • loved the story. loved loved the development of real and varied relationship growth between the protags. really liked how kane’s ethnicity was handled -(there’s an eden winters book out there that features “latino music” grrrr!)it was a nice almost parallel to chase in shadow with a bit of activism thrown in. felt like it was poorly edited, tho – with a few typos that threw me out of the story, sadly.would give it a 4.5.
    -kkm

    Reply
    • Funny, typos usually leap out at me but I don’t remember noticing many with this story. But I absolutely agree that the development of the relationship was awesome. As was Kane. I loved him so, so much! 😀

      Reply
  • Wonderful review Jess.

    This book wasn’t nearly as angsty as Chase in Shadow, but it had it’s fair share. And for once I felt like it wasn’t all necessary for the story, that the first chapter’s raison d’etre was to manipulate my emotions.

    I tolerate angst much more than I did in the past, but this author takes it to an extreme that I find overwhelming and I think she does manipulate readers’ emotions in a lot of her books. She’s a good writer with many fans, but I’m sure a lot of her popularity is because her books have OTT angst and M/M readers apparently can’t get enough angst. I love to read stories that stir my emotions but not to the extent where I feel sick to the stomach throughout.

    I didn’t read Chase in Shadow because I read the reviews and realized it definitely wasn’t for me. However, I know I’m in the minority. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jess great review. :).Wave the only books by Amy Lane I have read this year are her knitting series. I am fine with a lot of angst, I really am but at some point her brand of angst in her heavy books just felt too contrived too much and I became unwilling to even try anymore. I do love her style though so when Raine tells me that the new book is lighter I am there :). It is funny because at some point I took a break from Harper Fox’s books as well, but her bee one Half moon chambers just felt so on point to me – yes there was angst, but it felt relevant, not something that could be resolved by five minute conversation and characters did not have all catastrophes in the world to deal with in one book. I also wish in Amy Lane’s books there had been more believability on the settings. I have not read Chase in the shadow, but besides over the top angst the small thing which made me shake my head is somebody mentioning that recent college graduate there is saving to buy a house. Does he really?! I am sure in the world of super rich people this may happen. I however do not know any such college grads – most of the kids are concerned with finding a job.

      Reply
      • Sirius

        I don’t mind a certain amount of angst because I feel that the MCs should work for their HEA, however when I feel manipulated is when I stop reading.

        I love L.A. Witt’s writing and her books have lots of angst, but I never feel manipulated or overwhelmed no matter the plot, because it’s all in the context of the story. I’m reading her new book From Out in the Cold which has a fair amount of angst because it’s about two men suffering from PTSD, one of whom is a soldier returning from Iraq, but the angst is relevant and part of the story and the characters’ growth. That to me is the difference.

        Reply
    • Thanks, Wave. 🙂 Yeah, CIS was a bit too much angst for my comfort level. Though, oddly enough after all the reviews I’d read scared me, Solid Core of Alpha was great.

      FWIW, Dex in Blue, should you choose to read it, definitely would not make you feel sick to your stomach throughout. Just that first chapter, and then scattered moments throughout.

      Reply

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