Title: Vanished: Little Boy Lost Series Book Three
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Buy link: Amazon.com
Length: Novel (210 pages)
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
In a nutshell: Choosing to give up college and a scholarship, Brian (McAllister) Schreiber makes his way to San Diego to search for his best friend and lover, Jamie Mayfield.
Brian McAllister’s story continues in San Diego, where he finds so much more than he ever expected: acceptance, friends, encouragement, and an entire world of sexual adventure he’d never dared to imagine back in his small Alabama town. He continues to search for one lost boy in a sea of humanity but slowly begins to realize that maybe dreams really don’t come true.
This is the third book in the Little Boy Lost series. As a quick refresher, in Book One, Brian and Jamie, best friends since they were eleven years old, realize their feelings are more than friendship, and embark on a loving and sexual relationship. In Book Two, Jamie has been yanked from Brian’s life. Brian endures a long and difficult senior year in high school, but even so, makes new friends and develops some new skills. When Book Two ends, however, Brian has decided to forego college and is on a bus heading to San Diego, with a goal to find Jamie and bring him back into his life.
Book Three opens exactly where Book Two ended, with Brian on the Greyline Bus, pulling away from the bus station, waving to his parents and friend Adam. He is scared, lonely, and wondering if he is making a huge mistake. But he has made a decision and is determined to find Jamie in San Diego, no matter what it takes.
The story unfolds somewhat episodically, although the book is divided into chapters, not parts. Even so, “Episode” one covers the bus journey from Crayford, Alabama to San Diego. “Episode” two revolves around Brian getting settled in San Diego, finding a place to live, finding a job, and beginning his search for Jamie. “Episode” three explores Brian’s new friendships, especially with Mike, with him he begins a sexual relationship. This latter experience may be distressing for those readers who want Brian to stay true to Jamie, as he did in Book Two. For sure, Brian does feel some guilt for what he is doing; on the other hand, he’s 18, he has hormones, he’s lonely, and Mike’s a good friend. The fact they become intimate is more of an inevitability rather than a surprise.
Besides, Barnaby writes really hot sex scenes which made the last 40% of the book a bit more interesting than what had gone on before.
Once again, this book is written from Brian’s first person POV. While this is what I was expecting (it’s the same in Books One and Two) I felt that in this story, it became a little limiting. There are enough other characters who have been introduced that I really wondered what was going on with them but I had no way of knowing since everything was seen through Brian’s eyes. For example, shortly after Brian arrives in San Diego, he goes to meet with Mitch Mayfield, Jamie’s dad. Apparently Jamie had run away from The Sunshine Center, an ex-gay therapy program where he had spent the better part of his first year in San Diego. Mitch has no idea where Jamie is and just shrugs his shoulders. That’s it? I felt like there were a lot of loose ends like this throughout the story. I realize this can’t be changed due to the POV, but it gave me a somewhat incomplete feeling as I read the book.
The story ends with a cliffhanger—again—clearly a Barnaby trademark. However, this time it was not a big surprise to me. When the story takes a certain turn and Brian makes a decision, I knew exactly where the story was going. Not that this is a bad thing, but Books One and Two had a bit more suspense around the ending, which I felt was lacking this time. But this is me and others might not feel the same way.
Plusses—as with the other books, good writing that pulled me right into the story and wouldn’t let me quit reading until the book was done. Also, I like Brian a lot and I am very invested in his character. I want good things to happen to him and I keep rooting for him, even if, (IMHO), he made some poor choices this time around. Given the situation that he is in and his general naivety, this wasn’t too surprising. Still, the mother in me wanted to shake him at times—which also made me wonder why his real mother wasn’t being a bit more proactive (another one of those POV loose ends that bugged me).
Overall, I don’t think this is the strongest entry in the series so far (at the moment, that spot is still held by Book One), but that doesn’t mean this is a bad book. It’s sort of like a brick in the foundation—a necessary building block to get us where we’re headed in the next three books of the series. And, given the way things have been set up at the end, I anticipate an upswing in the next installment, Discovered.
If you are like me and hooked on this series, well, of course you have to read this. If you are new to the series then you definitely need to start with Book One—these are not standalone stories. And if you are waiting for the entire series to be complete before diving in, then add this to your wish list. Overall, this is a very good series that I can easily recommend. I am definitely looking forward to the next three books and am still hoping for a HEA for Brian and Jamie!