A guest review by Jenre
Mason is in love with his brother’s best friend, Jack. It’s been ten years of secret fantasies, hidden glances, and forbidden yearnings. Just when Mason decides to give up on Jack and move away, his friends step in to get them together.
Even with the most determined matchmakers, new love is not always easy. Especially when a serial killer who has his sights set on Mason being his next victim will destroy anyone who gets in his way. Can Jack keep Mason safe, or will their new love be over before it gets going?
Mason has been in love with his brother’s best friend, Jack, for 10 years. Unfortunately for Mason, Jack is straight – or so Mason thinks – and Mason has to content himself with mooning over Jack from afar. It’s got to a point where Mason realises what a sad case he’s become and so finally decides to make a break, move away from his family and Jack and finish his PhD at another university far away in Washington DC. Before he goes, Mason spends a drunken night of passion with Jack, leading to Jack’s utter disgust the next day and Mason fleeing to Washington early. Things don’t turn out quite the way Mason plans though when his upset feelings over Jack leads to circumstances which keeps him in his home town and finds him a new set of friends. Unfortunately for Mason this also brings him to the attention of a man who has been stalking and killing young gay men.
A Promise Kept begins with a tangle of misconceptions. The most pressing being that Mason believes Jack is straight and that everyone thinks that Mason is a bit of an immature kid, despite his age and the fact that he is studying for a PhD in Psychology. Most of this is due to Mason and his past behaviour. Mason seems to be one of these men that the other characters want to protect, so instead of treating him as an adult and sharing information with him, his parents and brother still treat him like he’s 14 – much to Mason’s frustration. Mason also realises that he’s brought this on himself because he has always acted the fool around Jack to get Jack’s attention, believing that making Jack smile and laugh is the only attention he will ever get from Jack. This means that the first part of the book is taken up with everyone misreading and misunderstanding each other until an event happens to bring all this to a head. Normally stories like this annoy me, but this book was saved for me by the character of Mason, who is so likeable that I could just about forgive him anything. I could also see why his family have sought to protect him because he is very naive and sheltered. In fact the character of Mason went a long way towards me forgiving quite a lot of things in this book, just because I liked his sensitive and yet intelligent nature.
After the first third of the book the story settles into a murder/stalker mystery. Although this storyline worked, I did feel that it relied a bit too heavily on the ‘insane madman’ approach to the bad guy. The stalker is everywhere, can easily break into other people’s houses, is cunning, has killed before. Yet I never found out why. What was it about brown haired gay men with glasses that made the bad guy want to torture and kill? We never find out, and so the villain becomes a bit of a caricature, an unknown threat who, like the bogeyman, could pop up anywhere and ruin our heroes’ lives.
As I said earlier, Mason was a great character and, as such, I enjoyed the growing and developing relationship between Mason and Jack. Once Mason proves that he’s perfectly capable of being treated like an adult, I liked the way that he was able to turn around Jack’s preconceptions of him. His fun, sexy and outrageous way of looking at the world contrasted well with Jack’s more serious nature and also made for the occasional conflict. The sex between them was hot but also romantic as Jack teaches Mason how to please him and they grow together in their knowledge of each other’s bodies. Because Mason is already in love with Jack when the book starts, it doesn’t take them too long before they have made an emotional commitment to each other, but I felt that this needed to be done so that the story could move on into focusing onto the stalker plot.
One final thing I liked about this book are the secondary characters of Mason’s friends. I really enjoyed reading the scenes when they were together and thought that the camaraderie between them was realistically done. I particularly liked Cooper and his cop partner, the very straight Jordan, and the way that Jordan joined in the banter when the group were together. These parts of the book added a bit of much needed lightness to the dramatic romance plot and the more serious stalker plot.
Overall, I liked A Promise Kept. It had a nice balance of characters, romance and themes which kept me interested. I’d recommend this book to those who are looking for a sweet romance book, but like a bit of added suspense in their stories.