Title: Black John (Johnnies #4)
Author: Amy Lane and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Release Date: March 20th 2015
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hrs 41 mins
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.
Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.
The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.
While the players and the setting changes, the game remains the same. Gomez Pugh picks up the narration for the final installment of the Johnnies series, and does it beautifully. Pugh consistently delivers a dynamic and impressive performance.
While the other three books in the series focused on the Johnnies set and life in and around Sacramento, Black John focuses more on the characters, on Johnnies owner, John Carey, in particular, and is set mainly in Florida.
John has just completed a stint in rehab for a long-time cocaine addiction when he receives word that the first person he ever loved, Vittorio “Tory” Petrelli has taken his own life and left a will asking John to release his ashes into the sea.
And John couldn’t even be mad. Because before Dex, who hadn’t loved him back, there’d been Tory, who had. Maybe. He’d loved John and John had loved him, John hoped, and they’d made porn together—gorgeous, aching, sexy porn—but it hadn’t been enough. It hadn’t been enough that John had worshipped him, hadn’t been enough that John had placed him in the sun and let the world worship him. No.
In the end, there weren’t enough cocks or enough coke to fill that thing in Tory, the emptiness carved by emotional neglect, by a world that hadn’t been able to laugh with Tory but had certainly made him cry.
Oh God, they had certainly made each other cry.
John didn’t remember when he’d fallen to his knees. He was too busy staring at his fist with the crumpled letter in it, even as he howled until he couldn’t catch his breath.
When John arrives back in Florida to clean out Tory’s apartment and get rid of his stuff, he meets Tory’s next door neighbor, Galen Henderson, who helps John with the apartment cleanup, and emotional support. The two work their way through Tory’s things, and piece together his final days.
“Oh God,” John whispered. “Tory. I get it. You wanted to go back.”
Back to before. They came out too soon, and the world was too painful. They ripped out of the tight wrappings of youth, not fed enough on love, not fed enough on security, to want to stay children anymore. They’d been so sure that the world, the adventurous bright world, would be far more accommodating, but it hadn’t been. It had been brutal, and Tory had spent the next seventeen years trying to get back.
He was back.
He was wrapped tight in death’s womb, waiting for another chance to emerge.
In the process John and Galen grow closer and fall in love. Unfortunately, Galen is battling his own demons and has been hooked on painkillers since a terrible motorcycle accident left him with crippling pain, a limp, and scars.
“I’m sorry. It’s just… just… you don’t have to be a saint to want to be treated like a human being, do you know that? Yes, I know he’s an addict. So the hell what? You don’t write him off because of it. You don’t write me off because I care for him. We’re people, that’s all. Miserable, stupid, fucked-up people, and all we have in this world to hold on to is each other. Can you understand that?”
One of the things that nearly killed me was just how good the hurt/comfort is in this story. THIS is the kind of hurt/comfort I love, with fallible characters bringing a measure of something they’ve never had before to one another.
The characters are human, and flawed, and it’s a sweet story at the base watching these two broken in different ways men come together and make a new life full of hope and possibility. Full of emotion, hope and hurt/comfort this final book in the series is a winner!