Author: RJ Scott
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (286 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Cole
Review Summary: A beautiful, heartfelt story about “Hollywood Love” — a lonely man with a heart of gold and his charge, a bad boy actor who only has one chance left.
A path chosen, a journey taken, a decision made. Jacob Riley, an actor with possession charges hanging over his head and an attitude that the world owes him a living, is facing such a moment.
It is only with the help of others can he ever hope to find his way. Could Mac’s and its enigmatic boss, Ethan Myers, be the ones to give Jacob his defining moment?
Jacob Riley, star of the time traveling TV series End Game, is a typical Hollywood former child star with issues. He has already had prison time and at the age of 26 has been arrested again. He manages to scrape through and avoid more jail time by being placed onto an expedited drugs program. Jacob works his time as a general handyman at an education centre in the run down area of L.A.. A part of the city that is in the middle of regeneration. It is a short sharp shock for the boy-man who had an easy life.
Ethan Myers is the owner and manager of `Mac’s’, providing teaching and learning to local low income families. He lost his long term partner to cancer three years ago. His moment in time was to decide not to die with his life partner and instead bury every penny he had and every part of his education into `Mac’s’. He agrees to take on Jacob as `Mac’s’ desperately needs the money, but it isn’t a decision he would have made under normal conditions.
Jacob hates his jailor Ethan; Ethan loses his cool whenever Jacob aims for an easy ride. He has no respect for the lack of substance in his `guest’.
Sparks fly when attraction becomes something they can’t fight and their relationship grows against a background of disenfranchised street gang members, arson, the Oscars, and despite their own prejudices.
Jacob Riley is a loose canon. The child star turned TV hotshot is all out of options, having lied, schemed, charmed, and bribed his way out of jail time (although he did at one time spend some months in prison) and court appearances, blowing off his brother’s wedding, and screwing up several stints in rehab. He believes that good looking, rich people are entitled to better treatment and that the world should jump in line to cater to him. It is what he deserves. In short order: he’s a massive prick. Now, though he really has been clean for a year (from alcoholism and a heroin addiction), the legal system has caught up with him and his choice is more jail time, or four months in some type of service program. His father has found just the place — Mac’s, a adult-education center and somewhat halfway house that caters to local low-income families run by Ethan Myers.
Ethan is possibly the opposite of Jacob in every way, except that they are both gay men. Ethan has built Mac’s from the ground up after his partner died of cancer. When Edward MacIntyre, Ethan’s partner, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ethan quit his teaching job and cared for him up until his death. Watching the pain and using it to exercise is anger and then his apathy after Edward’s death, he made a promise, that he would put all of his energy into a project in Edward’s memory — thus, Mac’s was born. Ethan agrees to take in Jacob, of whom he knows nothing except his reputation and the things Jacob’s father told him, only because of the money offered. He knows how much good that money could do and he decides that its worth it. Its only four months anyway, right? Only, as soon as he arrives, Jacob seems to cause as much trouble as possible, trying to charm the others in the household and simultaneously planning anything he can do to torment and ruin his “jailor.” Both men refuse to submit to the other, though they forge a somewhat stable working relationship around each other. It isn’t until the kindness of everyone at Mac’s starts to wear on Jacob and they are threatened by the remnants of a gang in the area, that Jacob starts the process of self-realization. But there is so much more they have to work through if they’ll ever come together — Jacob’s family, Ethan’s fear of fitting into Jacob’s Hollywood world, and the possibility of losing Mac’s forever.
I have read two works by RJ Scott. The first was The Christmas Throwaway, reviewed here by Wave and the second Kian, which I reviewed on Monday and you can see here. Wave’s review was so great that I couldn’t wait to read the book and I ended up loving it. Then I read Kian, which I really liked, but didn’t stick with me that same way that The Christmas Throwaway did. I had a feeling that this was probably a pattern with RJ Scott, that she excelled in contemporaries, so I was really excited to start Moments. Its seems I was right, as I absolutely loved this book. The whole time I was reading I was rooting for a 5 star rating, thought it was certainly close and definitely possible, there were a few things that kept me from giving this book such high praise — but more on that later.
The selling point in this book, by far, were the two amazing characters that sit at the front of the cast. Jacob and Ethan are dynamic, multi-faceted characters who are both lost. Ethan may have a better hold on his life and he may have somewhat of a family that he has made for himself, but he is still mourning the loss of his partner and is drowning in the debt and work that his operation needs to remain available to the community. And Jacob is probably the most angry, hateful, spiteful, self-entitled character I’ve ever read. He is so involved in his own misery that he lives in a world created in his own mind, where he is God, Judge, and Ruler of All Things. For a pretty big chunk of the novel Jacob is a repulsive character. He might turn you off (he says some terrible things that will offend you, no doubt), but that is the point — so we can see that he is Narcissus and the personification of misery by his own design. Ultimately, this leads me to the problem I had with the story. He is made out to be so utterly despicable, that it is almost impossible for him to redeem himself in my eyes. He does redeem himself, but it is a little too much for me to believe. He undertakes a journey in the novel and partway through has an epiphany brought on by outside events, his growing attraction to Ethan, and a purging of his own thoughts through writing. It seemed to come on so fast, though, and then overnight he was a different person. The story does go on to explain how this happened and why, but I think in real life, there would most likely be a grey period, where he was both angry/hurtful and contrite all at the same time. Here’s an example in Jacob’s own words:
People were pleased with me, but they kept moving the goal posts, kept wanting me to find myself, to find peace. They told me in rehab I had to find peace with myself before I could find it with the rest of the world. I laughed. Peace. Actors, celebrities, rich men’s sons, they don’t have peace. They’re not entitled to peace. They have money and adoration and that should be enough. This year, holding Beth, cleaning up a kitchen after Christmas dinner, laughing and talking to real friends… This year I think that I’ve found the beginnings of peace.
There are several secondary characters that mean quite a bit in the story — Isabelle, Mateo, Beth, and several others. They were very well-rounded and added a nice touch to the story. They were also given the lens of the third person point of view every once and a while, which didn’t put me off at all. Though I thought it would, and probably still would in most books, it added a needed viewpoint of the goings-on in the story, as some of the events had quite a bit to do with the other characters. The writing was beautiful and the pace was well set — I got a real grasp on the characters and where they were in life before they started to change. It gave the story a solid foundation to build on. I enjoyed this read by RJ Scott immensely. It is somewhat angsty, but not overpowering for me (I love angst though). Definitely recommended to those who like angst, Hollywood/fame love stories, and/or rehab or substance abuse issues in their reads. Last, but definitely not least, there was a lot of diversity in the sex between Jacob and Ethan (by that I mean that the sex meant different things each time, not ‘physical’ diversity) and all of it was well-written and served as a catalyst for the story. Enjoy!
**On a sidenote, isn’t this a hot cover? Damn…**