Monday, June 14, 2010

Old Poison by Josh Lanyon

TITLE: Old Poison
AUTHOR: Josh Lanyon
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 33k)
GENRE: Gay erotic romantic suspense
COST: $4.99

Will and Taylor are learning how to be partners, both at work and in private. Taylor is about to return to active duty, but his assignment to someone else creates friction in their still fledgling relationship, friction neither man needs as Will struggles to get a grip on his feelings and Taylor finds himself the target of a stalker…

I rarely re-read stories in preparation for reading sequels, though this time, I wonder if I should have made an exception. I’ve read the first story about Will and Taylor exactly once, and it was a little while ago, so the dynamics of their relationship were impressions rather than specifics. I seriously wonder if I would have liked the story more than I did had I done that.

Will and Taylor have been lovers for a little more than a month, and each is still feeling their way. Taylor wants Will to move in, a move Will resists, and still occasionally wonders if Will is with him out of guilt rather than real emotion. For his part, Will wonders if the relationship he gave up when Taylor was shot, a relationship with a man he has a lot more in common with, is the one he should have pursued, even if his feelings for Taylor are far more urgent. Taylor is going back on active duty, but assigned to a new partner, while Will is assigned to the man he broke up with to be with Taylor on an entirely different case. Their lives are moving apart, directions that leave both men questioning. And all the while, someone appears to be stalking Taylor.

Will and Taylor’s relationship has never been simple, and this continuation of their romance is no exception. This aspect is probably the strongest single part of the story. Sometimes, their doubts are played a little heavy-handedly, but they’re organic to the characters and thus, satisfying. They take up most of the first half of the story, while the latter is more tightly focused on the suspense. It’s this schism that provides the primary drawback I have with it, keeping it from something outstanding to a merely solid offering from Lanyon.

As a whole, the story never completely flowed for me. Elements of the suspense get introduced sporadically in the first half, enough to make its fruition logical. When the action takes off, it erupts like a rocket, moving at a breakneck speed through the last third. It’s so tight that the contrast with the rest of the book is jarring. In some ways, it feels like two different stories. Truth be told, I much preferred this last section of the story to the rest of it. If the entire thing had been written and paced like that, this would have rated much higher. Still, the ending works on a lot of levels, primarily due to the events at the end of the novella. Lanyon gets full props for pulling it all together, and seeing the happy ending these two men get was vastly rewarding.


8/10 – Oddly paced for the first half, though the second makes up for it

Hero #1

7/10 – I missed Taylor’s humor from the first book, though circumstances dictated it

Hero #2

7/10 – His emotional growth is smoother than Taylor’s

Entertainment value

7/10 – I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, but it’s definitely a solid offering from Lanyon

World building

8/10 – Each agent’s case and world get brought to life, as well as the suspense angle



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