Title: Just in Time (Just Life #3)
Author: E.E. Montgomery
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Catt Ford
Amazon Link: Buy Link Just in Time (Just Life)
Genre: contemporary m/m romance
Length: Novella (108 pdf pages)
Rating: 3 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A story with a promising premise that fell short for me for a variety of problems.
The Blurb: Sequel to Just Like a Date – Just Life: Book Three
Mark Mendelson’s life is close to perfect: he has good friends, a successful business, and a solid reputation in the jewelry industry. He fought hard to get what he has after nearly losing it all fifteen years ago, when his then boyfriend, Cole Porter, stole his designs.
When a handsome man enters Mark’s store to request a commitment ring—a design Mark made specifically for Cole—Mark wants nothing to do with him. All he can think about is his rage at Cole’s betrayal, something he thought he’d dealt with long ago. But Mark’s would-be customer, Dr. Liam Watson, returns to the shop, thinking Mark might provide some answers. For years Liam has tried to convince his cousin Jon to leave Cole, who abuses him. As the relationship between Jon and Cole disintegrates, a fragile new one forms between Liam and Mark—but Mark can’t move on until he confronts Cole once and for all.
Jeweler Mark Mendelson had a large number of his designs stolen from him many years ago, and when he claimed having been wronged, nobody believed him. On the contrary, he was accused of being jealous of his then-boyfriend “Cole” Porter, who not only stole Mark’s designs, but even won an award with a ring he made after one of them. Since then, Mark worked hard to re-establish his reputation in the jewelry industry, and he succeeded, doing better than ever before. He also cut all ties with Cole, never again wanting anything to do with the man. So when Liam comes to Mark with a blueprint of that very same infamous ring, demanding Mark craft it for him, Mark is taken aback and all but throws Liam out of his shop. But Mark is also intrigued. Liam obviously has a personal connection of sorts with Cole, although he won’t come clear about the nature of said connection for the longest time, and he is persistent, returning to the shop and insisting on commissioning the ring to Mark. As they get to know each other more, Mark bit by bit reveals the trauma of his past relationship with Cole–and its ending–to Liam.
On the other hand, Liam remains secretive. It takes an attempt on Mark’s life to get Liam to talk, and even then, he does so only reluctantly. However, what little Liam reveals is enough to convince Mark he has to face Cole once again in order to be able to stop looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life.
Parts of this book I liked a lot, mainly the character of Mark, his talent, the passion he had for his profession, and his never-give-up-attitude. Liam, serene, calm and loyal to a fault, was a well-wrought character too, as was his conflicted, abused cousin Jon–and Cole, the bad guy in this story, was so over the top he was already good again, very much like the villain in some James Bond movie.
Also, the premise in and of itself was intriguing–the plagiarism affair, the artistic rivalry between Mark and Cole, Liam’s unexpected request, all this had the potential for a good mystery story.
But the mystery part was also where my problems with this story started. Even after a reread, I couldn’t figure out the actual motive at the basis of Liam’s request that Mark make the ring. Although this very question was addressed several times over the course of the story, it left me confused; either I missed the underlying logic somehow or there really wasn’t any.
Also, the romantic part, which was really more a subplot of sorts, wasn’t overly convincing to me. Liam’s secretiveness about the true nature of his connection to Cole appeared far-fetched, especially seeing as it was already revealed in the blurb. Liam’s closemouthedness was one of the reasons why I had problems to relate to the supposed attraction/connection between him and Mark. Despite their erotic encounters, as for me, there wasn’t a whole lot of chemistry between them.
I think this was also why I found the ending rather unsatisfactory. After a furious, action-filled finale, Liam and Mark suddenly were together. Perhaps. Or not. To me, the ending was too open and came a bit too out of the blue to be even remotely conclusive.
All in all, this was a story with an interesting premise and interesting characters that attempted a lot but, at least in my opinion, didn’t come up to the expectations it had raised.