Jack and Dave

Title: Jack and Dave
Author:  John Simpson
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A guest review by John

THE BLURB

Just out of the service, Dave Henderson is home and ready to enjoy the sexual freedom he didn’t have in the Marine Corps. When he meets Jack Stonner at a party thrown by a neighbor, Dave is immediately attracted to him and launches a seduction, one that starts with sex but soon grows into love.

Then Dave draws the fierce attentions of a local mobster, and Dave’s new employers at a local law firm insist that Dave continue to conduct business with him. Jack and Dave’s new relationship may be derailed, because Franklin Venchenzo is used to taking what he wants by force—and Jack is standing in his way.

THE REVIEW

Dave has just been honorably discharged from the Marines and has returned to his hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.  He is gay and can finally come out and not worry about ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’.  His first job is as a paralegal with a local law firm.  To celebrate his new civilian life, his job and his coming out, he goes to a gay bar where his buff, muscular body and gorgeous face generate lots of excitement, multiple free drinks and he ends up in bed with the bartender.  Pretty good action for his first night out.  The next week he goes to a different bar and beds an off duty cop.  Dave isn’t surprised that men hit on him and think he’s gorgeous.

Early in the story, he meets Jack at a party given as a welcome to the neighborhood and he feels a strange warmth toward Jack after just one introduction at a crowded party.  After a couple of dates Dave asks Jack to go away for a weekend to Atlantic City, and the two have a nice sex filled get-away.

Dave goes to a new gay club and meets the owner, Franklin Venchenzo who gives him a bottle of champagne, dances with him, and makes some strange comments about future possibilities. During the next week Franklin sends him a huge bunch of flowers, hires his law firm and then tries to get the firm to use Dave as his sole contact point.  Eventually Dave finds out that Franklin wants him as his boytoy.

However, Dave and Jack are starting to get serious.  They are compatible in and out of bed and each man thinks of the other in a more exclusive, long term manner,  so Dave goes to his employer and asks not to be assigned to the club owner’s account or be forced to work with the man.  He reveals his sexual orientation and explains how creepy he feels around Franklin.  His boss at first agrees but then asks Dave to compromise for the sake of his job.  Eventually Dave quits and threatens a law suit for sexual harassment.

Franklin Venchenzo is definitely the villain here.  He might have some mob connections, has some big beefy bouncer type goons around him, and won’t take no for answer.

Without giving away all the excitement, there is a kidnapping, some ass whipping, and other action but in the end it all works out for the best, with a surprise ending too that doesn’t involve the gangster.

What I liked.

Dave and Jack are nice, likeable guys who seem similar to your average, everyday gay men.  Jack is a little more shy with Dave being more aggressive, which makes sense since he was in the Marines.  Jack works at a bank, but has graduated from a culinary school and eventually wants to own a restaurant.  Dave has some college credits from his time in the Marines and is now looking to finish his undergraduate work toward a law degree.

There are several sex scenes which I like.  There is the excitement of finding someone new, hoping that the feelings are reciprocated, and the inevitable working out of the relationship of loving and living together.

What I didn’t like.

The author doesn’t use pronouns well in the descriptions of sex so there’s a lot of Dave thrusting Dave’s cock into Jack’s ass and stroking Jack’s cock as Dave speeds up – a bit of an over exaggeration, but not much.  There’s detailed descriptions of all parts of the sex act.  I like it when an author assumes I know what body part fits where, but maybe that’s just me.

Also, there are comments by some minor players that distract from the story as a whole.  One is a misconception that Marines are dumb jarheads which made me wrinkle my brow in disbelief.  This wasn’t a big part of the story, but it didn’t ring true at all.  There was also a statement from Dave’s boss that since he is gay he’s a slut and will sleep with anyone to advance his career.

And then there is the villain throwing the monkey wrench into the mix.  It builds slowly, but comes to a climax suddenly with an ending that felt rushed and not realistic.

This is the first book I’ve read from John Simpson and I wished more than once that I could read more of his work to see if these problems are just in this book or appear in each of his books.

The story is told from Dave’s point of view, so we don’t learn much about Jack or his family. Dave is supposed to be from Reading, but nothing is ever mentioned of his family or visiting them.  I think that further exploration of both their backgrounds would have helped the story along.

I figured that when I agreed to review another book for Wave, I might get one that was a bit of a struggle to get through.  Jack and Dave didn’t flow well for me, but I think it is worth the read.  The action speeds up in the middle 1/3 of the book and even though I felt the villain got his too quickly and easily, I’m rating it 3 stars out of 5.

Author

I’m a single gay male, 46 years old and I farm and ranch in Texas.

13 comments

  • I guess it all comes down to personal opinion, likes and dislikes. I didn’t think your book was bad. I didn’t recommend that Wave’s readers avoid Jack and Dave. I just didn’t think it was worth more than the 3 out of 5 stars.

    Thanks.

  • I’m sorry that it seems most of you here don’t like my style of writing. As an author, it amazes me that there is such a wide variety of opinions on my writing. I’ve been compared to Tom Clancy, all the way to comments like these, “boring, told not shown,” etc. My style will always be the same so don’t expect anything else. If you like my work, you will always like my work. If you hate my work, you’ll always hate my work. I do write what I know as I have been very deep in all the worlds in which I write. 99% of people never even get a glimpse of my worlds, so I endeavor to make sure the reader gets a good peek. My sincere advice is to buy more of my work if you like what you’ve read, and don’t buy anything new if you haven’t enjoyed what I’ve done. May your journey bring you to authors you enjoy!

    Peace,

    John

      • You’re welcome John. Two things if I might since we’re chatting. You objected to the view of the senior partner of the law firm when he assumed that Dave would sleep with Venchenzo to advance his career with the firm. That IS a realistically portrayed view by many straight older men who wallow in ignorance when it comes to gay men; especially in the legal fields.

        And if you don’t believe that there are men AND women who think marines are dumb as a box of rocks, you haven’t been around the block on this one. Marines for a long time have been viewed at the “beef” thrown into the worst of the battles to have any chance of winning a war. They are tough, loyal, devoted to country and their fellow marines. They are also perceived to be dumb sex mad horn dogs. Again, I’ve been in these worlds….in fact, here’s an exclusive for you John:

        This story is based on my personal story and that of my love, Jack. Yes, Jack is my life long partner as portrayed in the book and in real life. I did get laid on my first night in a gay bar in Reading and with the bartender. I did encounter a gangster who owned a gay bar, etc….I did go to bed with a reading cop, a department I eventually served on. One of your readers commented on the giant schlongs of some of my characters….I’m sure referring to Def Con One. Again, true depiction of an actual man I was involved with while in the Air Force. So what seems like poor fiction by some, is in all reality the actual events weaved into a story of fiction. Any way, just wanted to get that off my chest.

        Peace,
        John

        • Hi John
          Thanks for commenting.

          As the other John said, he didn’t feel that the story was worth more than 3 stars and other reviewers on this site have rated your books consistently in the 3 – 4 star range. Many authors feel that when we rate a book as 3 stars that we’re being negative. We’re not – what the reviewer is saying is that in his/her opinion the book had flaws, but not gaping holes.

          Reviews are someone’s personal opinions and they vary. For the record, 7 of your books were reviewed on this site and of those, two were rated as 3 stars (Jack and Dave and Murder Most Gay), three were rated as 4 stars (Naval Maneuvres, the Barracks Affair and Talons of the Condor) one book was reviewed by two reviewers and rated as 4.25 stars (Def Con One), and one was rated as 3.5 stars (Condor One).

          As you can see there is a range of ratings for your books and a total of four reviewers, including myself, reviewed them. I think we have been most fair in our assessments, especially since one book was reviewed by two reviewers who did not compare notes on the ratings before the reviews were posted.

          Some of the readers have also commented about what they liked or didn’t like about your stories. Again that is their personal opinions. I always tell the readers who drop by this site to check out other review sites BEFORE they buy a book.

          We are always fair in giving our opinions about a book and our ratings and we try to indicate WHY, which is more than many other review sites do. We review books for the readers so that they know what to expect (or not). I realize that there are some sites that consistently rate books as 4.5 to 5 stars but we try to be more discerning and only do so when we feel that a book is deserving.

          Thanks for dropping by John and feel free to comment on other reviews.

  • After I read the first of John’s books, I thought that maybe this is what men (presumably gay men) want and like to read. Or maybe it was not the writer’s best. Since then, I’ve read a couple more of John’s stories in hopes that I would find the next ones more readable. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case.

    His story’s subject matter is right where I like to be (military and law enforcement) and he has some interesting characters. It’s as LadyM said, though, he has more sex scenes than plot advancing ones and he does more telling of what a character feels or thinks than shows.

    John’s stories are enjoyable for a light, non-serious read. The mild irritations are mostly vague distractions. Dave and Jack is one story I do have but haven’t read yet. But I will.

  • I looked at his other books and he definitely writes on subjects that I like. Military being the main one and DefConOne did look good from the blurb.

    And thanks for the encouragement.

  • Hi John, and congrats on your second review for Wave’s site.

    I have read all of JS’s books except this one and have reviewed several on this site. As LadyM said, his style isn’t for everyone — including me some of the time! — and my fav from him is Def Con One. Since I haven’t read this one yet, I can’t say that it’s the same here, but from past experience I found that he has a way of writing that has long, descriptive, telling paragraphs, then blocks of dialog, then back to long, descriptive, telling paragraphs. The lovers of his narrators often have giant schlongs and the smexxin is generally very descriptive. He writes what he knows — this comes through very clearly and perhaps is his strongest plus, imo — which is military, police, or political.

    All that being said, and although this author isn’t in my top 10 and I will probably always have some niggles with his stories, he has grown on me over the last year and a half. I will most likely pick this one up. I’ll let you know what I think after.

  • ‘Telling instead of showing’ the sex scenes. That’s an excellent way of describing the problem I had with a good part of the book. It was like an instruction manual for gay sex. Sorry, I’m not 12 and even back then I think I would have gotten bored with this style in a hurry.

    As far as my skill with reviewing, I have some great examples here to emulate. I like Aunt Lynn’s example of reading the book twice, and I did that with ‘The Telling’, but I just couldn’t force myself to reread this one. So I scanned to make sure I got names and events right.

    Thanks for the encouraging words. Y’all are great!

  • Wonderful review, John. 🙂

    I’ve also read a few of this author’s books, although not this one, and found them ok but not great.

  • I’ve read a couple of books (and some short stories) by Simpson and, while some parts were interesting, on the whole, I wasn’t inclined to read more. I even stopped reading one of his books when I reached 37th sex scene on the 50th page. I was bored to death. And there was a lot of telling instead of showing, so, while I’m generally willing to give author the second (or even the third) chance, I realized Simpson’s books just aren’t for me. I’m sure there are readers who enjoy them though.

    I really like your reviews. Very thoughtful. It seems Aunt Lynn, my favorite reviewer here, got some competition. ^^

  • John you are really coming into your own with the reviewing. If I didn’t know you were relatively new to it I never would have guessed based on this review. It’s thoughtful, insightful, and states clearly and well what you did and didn’t like, particularly as you addressed issues that I, as a reader, would have noticed.

    You have me intrigued and I will probably be reading this one at some point, because there were just as many things that appealed to me as didn’t, based on your evaluation.

    I look forward to reading more of your reviews. Keep up the good work.

  • Another great review, John, thanks!

    I’ve read a few things by this author and I find his writing style a bit clunky and that sounds like the case here. But that’s my personal opinion–I know there are plenty of people who really enjoy his stories because they tend to have lots of action and so on. I think your review makes it very clear who might like this or not. Good job…

    L

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: