MtSnow reviews ‘A Shot of J&B – Vasquez Security: The Next Generation’ by Lou Sylvre. Released by Dreamspinner Press March 16th, 2015. 214 pgs.
1. After the trauma that Jackie goes through in his youth, how did you determine to write his interest in BDSM, and was it hard to write it as a ‘pre-wired’ interest, and not a by-product of his abuse?
It required some thought, even introspection. I had to put myself in Jackie’s place, so to speak, and discover why I was a submissive in the first place, what positive thing might have happened in my life to show me that part of myself, and what the rewards were. I knew I also had to put Jackie in a ‘place’ where he has reclaimed what was taken by the abusers in his past. Once I had a handle on who he really was beyond the “abused boy,” it wasn’t really hard to figure out how to write it. It was definitely something I knew I had to resolve before I could write the story in a way that felt responsible—and that was important.
2. I love the fact that Jackie is a leather artist, and am very interested if you’ve seen examples of this kind of work, and what type of research was involved in learning about the decoration of the softer leather using wood burning tools?
I have personal experience with burning images and patterns into deer hide, elk hide, and calf hide. I haven’t done it for a while, but I didn’t have to research it. I’m sure there are other people “out there” who do the same thing, but it really came to me in a craft store. I’d been thinking about painting the skins, but had a light bulb moment. It worked very well!
3. Why did you decide to use geocaching as an element in this story?
It sounds like a fun hobby! Have you ever done it? My daughter used to do it quite a lot, and I thought it sounded intriguing. She took me with her a few times and it was enjoyable, though there can be frustrating moments. I don’t really know why I tripped it into being Jackie’s hobby, but I think it fits his independence well. I knew that Jackie’s independence would also be something that would have the potential to cause trouble in paradise for Jackie and Brian. Brian would approve of his independence, but be prone to worry about Jackie in such situations. I think it also provided fertile ground for the suspense element.
4. Since this, too, is a mystery series, do you find that you think of the suspense plot first, then write the MCs around it, or does the story flow from you as you write from beginning to end?
The MC’s always exist for some time in my mind before I start thinking of plotting. I generally outline only loosely, and find that the plot continues to develop for both romance and suspense as I begin the writing process. In this particular book, the MC’s were a given, because it was a spinoff readers had asked for, and I absolutely had to figure the romance out before I could develop the suspense plot, because of the very issues you raised in question one. Only after I had a fairly solid idea about how that would go could I begin to develop the suspense, and then bring it into a cohesive whole.
5. Did you know how you wanted this series to go from the beginning, or do the ideas come after you complete each story?
At some point I thought I knew. Now I’m not sure but I’m still trying to stay on track. Wish me luck! We’ll see how it goes. 😉
6. What made you decide to have Brian be so comfortable with knitting and crochet?
Was it a natural segue to go from there to the beautiful knot work of the Japanese Shibari used in BDSM? Well, the book is dedicated to a real-life Brian Harrison that I know. While he and the fictional character don’t really have many other traits or habits in common, the original Brian knits and crochets, and I gave the character that trait in Delsyn’s Blues, during an emergent moment. It’s a brief conversation between him and Luki. Although another conversation is going on at the same time, I’ve sifted out Luki and Brian’s exchange.
Luki suddenly realized he knew almost nothing about Brian. He was one of the few people who worked for him that he hadn’t handpicked from a line of people he knew. He hadn’t even been the one to hire him. It was no time, of course, for a get-acquainted supper, but he needed to ask one question, even while he was keeping track of Sonny and Margie and Ladd.
“What do you do in your spare time, Brian?”
“What do you do in your spare time?” Luki asked the young agent, sotto voce.
“Yeah,” Brian said. “And crochet.”
7. Have you been to and BDSM clubs or witnessed Shibari in person? What kind of research goes into writing a BDSM story?
I have been to a BDSM club when I was oh, let’s just say a few decades younger. That experience didn’t really contribute much to what I ended up writing. I have not witnessed Shibari in person, though I looked for an opportunity and would love to do so. I have seen multiple videos of demonstrations multiple times. Research included having beta readers that knew their stuff (thank heaven), I chatted online with a couple people from a group in another state. I did web research on different types of clubs, the way they worked their schedules, rules and how they handled violators, how they admitted new members, etc. Very early on I also read BDSM fiction that presented a situation that seemed to be realistic and responsible, and that got good feedback from those in the BDSM community—and one series that gave me an example of what I knew. I wanted to avoid. I researched the history of Shibari, the knots and ropes used, and visited websites where Doms and subs shared their insight. I continue to do research as there’s much more territory for Brian and Jackie to explore. I enjoyed the process. (I got a little jealous… *blushes*)
8. I see that you went from Nebraska and the upper west coast all the way to London. Have you been there, and do you see more adventures on the ‘other’ continent?
Nope, never been there, but went through similar avenues of research as I did about BDSM, and added Google street view—a fantastic invention! Some things may occur there, but the boys will be based in Los Angeles for the next two books. Depending on how many books I write and how much time the stories cover, they may end up based in London again.
9. Do you happen to have playlists or any particular music you listen to motivate the flow of your writing?
I almost never listen to music when I write. If I did it would be instrumental, or perhaps medieval to early renaissance chant, songs, hymns, masses, and motets—the words wouldn’t demand attention then, though the beauty might. I do usually have a song or two that has a place in the story, though in A Shot of J&B, poetry takes more of a role. I also sometimes play music (usually guitar) when I stop typing to think about the story. 😉
10. Will Jackie’s college major in forensic psychology become a factor in possible future ‘cases’ with Brian and his detective work?
Absolutely. See how I did that? Pretty slick, huh? *nods and pats own back*
11. How many books do you think will be included in this series?
At least three. I’m not very good at getting all the ideas for a series or even a book in line before writing, because the change. I know that A Shot of J&B will lead to A Cup of Kindness, and that A Cup of Kindness will lead to another book. What happens after that depends on the surprises Brian and Jackie unleash on me in those first three. 😉
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Six years ago, Brian Harrison helped save the life of Jackie Vasquez, and he’s never really forgotten him. After the rescue, Brian ended his employment with Jackie’s uncle Luki and left the US for England, aiming to distance himself from the confused feelings—not lust, but not brotherly—that then sixteen-year-old Jackie engendered. Now Jackie has become a man, and when they meet again by chance, lust with a dose of D/s rope kink is definitely on the list of possibilities. As they get to know each other, though, lust shows every sign of growing into love, deep and true.
When Jackie moves to London for graduate studies in criminal psychology, he and Brian hope they’ll be able to enjoy each other’s frequent company. But they haven’t factored in the claim Brian’s police job with Scotland Yard will make on his time, especially when the “Gaslighter crimes” sap investigative resources. An abandoned aide dog named Soldier leads to a breakthrough clue, and a chain of discoveries fall like dominoes. As Brian rushes to beat the criminal’s game before it escalates to true terror, he comes to an undeniable conclusion: Jackie Vasquez, the man he loves, is in mortal danger.
Categories: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, BDSM (light), Suspense, Romance
(From Chapter Two: December 26th, after a day with Luki and Sonny)
Brian had trouble keeping up with conversations and events for the rest of the evening. The only element he remained fully aware of was Jackie. Every time Jackie moved, Brian marveled at some little thing he hadn’t noticed before: the way a golden-red shine off his hair formed almost a halo when the light was behind him; the way thick, loose curls tumbled over his shoulders when he stripped the leather tie out and brushed his hands through the loosened locks; the way his pale eyes seemed more silver than gray when he laughed; the pattern of the freckles on his cheeks; the richness of his voice—slightly lower in tone and smoother in timbre than seemed expected.
In the few hours he’d studied the young man—not entirely on purpose—he’d become familiar with Jackie’s habits. Jackie bit his bottom lip when thinking just like Luki. He canted his head to the side and squinted slightly when listening. His laugh seemed always sudden and sincere—as if it took Jackie by surprise. When he spoke, intelligent words came readily to his tongue, without hesitation, but he only spoke with true purpose. And he was kind, watching for other’s needs—refilling a coffee cup, turning off a light that shone too bright in someone’s eyes, giving Bear a generous scratch behind the ears.
When it came time to leave and Jackie left the room to gather his things, Brian at last turned his full attention to his hosts. He thanked them and quite sincerely said he’d been very happy to see them again. He added, “And the food was fabulous, Luki!”
Luki chuckled, and said. “Thank you, Brian. But as preoccupied as you were, I think if I asked you tomorrow what you ate for dinner tonight, you wouldn’t even remember!”
Brian couldn’t pretend surprise that Luki had noticed. Before he could think of a reasonable response, Luki squelched any possibility of a speech with the biggest hug Brian had ever seen his former boss give anyone besides his husband, and then a giggling Sonny circled his long arms around them both and joined the squeeze. Brian’s ribs hurt a little by the time it was over.
When Jackie came from the back of the house with two suitcases and a backpack, Brian took the luggage from him and went to put it in the rental car while Jackie made his farewells to his uncles. He put the backpack in the backseat, thinking Jackie might want that available, and then laid the suitcases in the trunk. They seemed to fit perfectly in there with his own bags, but when Brian had that thought, he realized what a strange thought it was, and tried to talk himself back into his usual, more sensible perspective.
Don’t be ridiculous, Brian. Even if there was a God and that God made one person to perfectly match one other person in the entire world, luggage fitting in the trunk wouldn’t likely be a sign they’d found each other. He was able to laugh at himself a little, then, and it did help him take a mental and emotional step back. Not too far, though. Now that he and Jackie had crossed paths again, he had no desire to step back too far.
He admitted in a moment of clarity that the prospects for any future development were a bit disheartening. He lived in London, had a career and a flat and a club and a cat there. Jackie lived in Nebraska—at least Brian thought he still did—was in college, still and had years of study ahead of him pursuing the education he needed to pursue his field of interest. And who knew where in the world that would take him?
Just then, Jackie turned toward him, smile clear and lovely in the glow of the porch light, but somehow more reminiscent of the boy of six years ago than he had been at any earlier time that night. It reminded Brian who Jackie was, what he’d been through, and he thought, if ever there was a sub that required a cautious approach, Jackie is it. Brian had enough savvy to know Jackie had become interested in him, but he decided that, though he wouldn’t discourage Jackie’s interest, he also wouldn’t do anything to deliberately foster it. For the time being, he’d let Jackie take the reins, solo.
Rain had begun to fall heavily just as they’d pulled out onto the main road, which would take them back to Port Clifton. Visibility on the road was poor at the best of times, but on a moonless night in heavy rain, Jackie thought the chances that Brian would be able to pass the slow-moving, overloaded-looking log truck ahead of them seemed slim at best. He sighed, but not unhappily, only settling in. The ride would be longer than expected, but they’d left early so they’d likely make their flights in plenty of time.
The sound of the rain and the way it dripped down the windows seemed to close them in, to make the car’s interior seem cozy, its dash lights comforting. And Brian… he seemed steady behind the wheel, relaxed, perhaps even a masterful driver, reminding Jackie of Sonny. With the heat on low, Brian’s scent permeated the air—something with a touch of incense like quality soap, and slightly sexed, and a faint tang of end-of-a-long day man-smell. And….
“I smell leather,” Jackie said.
“Oh!” Brian flashed a smile at him. “My brother gave me a jacket for Christmas. It’s on the backseat. Still new enough to have a pretty noticeable smell. I admit I like the smell, but most of the time I hardly notice it, and I know there are people who don’t like it.”
“I like it!” Jackie laughed at his own enthusiastic answer. He knew he wasn’t being subtle, but then subtlety was not a quality he’d ever been known for. “Quite a lot, in fact. It’s one of the reasons I took up leatherwork.”
“Tooling, burning, sewing. I like to work with soft, lighter weight leathers. I think the tooling and painting people do on heavy leather is fabulous—some of its museum quality. But I like the feel of the softer stuff, the way it responds if I treat it right, the way it looks when the right people wear it.”
“No. Well, heh. Yes I have a few things I wear from time to time, in certain… situations.” Jackie hesitated, knew he was taking the conversation somewhere unexpected. “I had some leather that matched the color of the darkest streaks in my hair, and I made myself a harness—but that one I’ve never worn.”
“Well,” Jackie said, drawing the syllable out slightly, “the occasion just never seemed right for it, yet.”
Brian glanced at Jackie, turned his eyes back on the road, and said in a husky voice that had to be one of the sexiest sounds Jackie had ever heard. Finally, he sort of smacked his lips, chuckled once, and then said, “I’d bet good money you’ll wear it well when you decide to do so.”
Jackie said only, quietly, “Thank you, Brian.”
They didn’t speak for a while, but Jackie had no sense of awkward silence. After a time, Brian seemed to notice the classical music station playing on the radio, and said, “Oh, hey, you can change the station or turn it off if you want. I’m so used to it I forget sometimes not everyone listens to music by long-dead composers.” He laughed, a pleasant, understated sound.
Jackie answered, “No, I like it! Especially this Renaissance music—that’s Palestrina if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yes, I think you’re right.”
“Probably,” Brian said, and for a few minutes they fell back into silence. They were passing through Port Clifton, but most of the town’s lights were off, and the streets deserted. Somehow, the lonely darkness inside made the inside of the car even more intimate. Jackie turned toward Brian and asked, “So, you don’t have a boyfriend, but you have a club.”
“Right,” Brian said, though he seemed to be hesitating. “I go there maybe once a week or so. I’m not going to pretend you don’t know what kind of club I’m talking about, so I’ll just say, sometimes I have a scene, occasionally I watch one. Sometimes I only have a shot of J&B and a good-natured argument with the bartender, Jamie. Sometimes I have lunch. And…,” Brian started but paused for some time before finishing his sentence. “And, when I do have a scene, it’s most likely to involve ropes or leather, and someone submitting to me.”
Jackie thought that held promise, and he felt something like a flutter of butterflies stretching their wings somewhere under his navel. He wanted to laugh, but he bit his lip and limited himself to a smile. He tried to picture what kind of place might appeal to Brian. Of the few BDSM clubs Jackie had been in, one could only be described as sleazy, one quite swank, and the others landed somewhere in-between on the classiness scale. Jackie was betting Brian’s club would be on the classy side, and he decided to test the theory.
“So,” he said, “what’s the club like? The place itself, I mean.”
“Very pleasant—very British, to my American sensibilities. Things are all polished wood and brass and subdued colors up front—understated and elegant. In the back, brick walls, tile and marble floors with lots of thick carpets, steel equipment, lots of leather. Expensive, unfortunately, but other than yarn and my cat, I don’t spend my money on much else.” He glanced at Jackie, smiling.
Jackie smiled back. “Sounds classy.” He thought for a moment, imagining, then added, “And I can see you in that environment, right at home. What about the people.”
“Variety. No one I heartily dislike, though there are only a few I really know. Tommy—he’s the man who has taught me what skills I have, and he’s still my mentor. Sponsored me into the club. Jamie, the bartender.”
“What about subs?”
“Well… I meet them because someone told them to contact me, or told me I might like to contact them, generally. I don’t go to the club to find them. I don’t see anyone repeatedly; for the most part once is good.”
Jackie nodded. He knew Brian might not have seen the motion, but he wanted to think before speaking. Before he was ready, Brian spoke up again.
“Does… does that make me sound like a cold mofo?” He chuckled, but it sounded to Jackie like his answer would matter to the other man.
He answered honestly, quietly. “No. At least, there’s too many other possibilities for me to make that assumption.”
“Right. Never assume. But, do you mind if I ask you something even more personal?”
“Um… I’m just wondering if you… think things will always be like that for you. I mean, do you think, someday—”
“Do I think I might find someone special? Would I want to?”
“Short answer: yes. Yes, I’d like to have a… have more with… the right person, someday.”
Jackie nodded again. He didn’t have anything more to ask, and thought it would be okay to just be quiet and let peace settle as the car rumbled over the noisy steel bridge deck crossing the Narrows. But Brian apparently felt differently.
“What about you, Jackie? No boyfriend now, right?”
“No,” Jackie said, not sure why the question should take him by surprise. “No, I’ve never really had a boyfriend since high school, before my brother and I left home.”
“You’re busy with school and everything, but…. Well, I told you my ‘someday’ answer. What about yours? Hopes, dreams, maybes?”
“All of the above.” Jackie hadn’t hesitated—he knew his own mind well. He added, “As you said, with the right guy.”
They did fall silent then, as Brian maneuvered the rather tricky interchange onto I-5 Northbound, then dealt with a heavy downpour, water on the road, and spray from truck tires drowning the Sonata’s windshield. Jackie had never become used to Puget Sound driving conditions, and the slap of water cutting off all visibility startled him. He drew in a breath and stiffened, but Brian, while keeping the wheel firm in the grip of one strong hand, reached over with the other and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes.” Jackie let the word out on a sigh of relief. “Thanks.”
Brian said nothing but squeezed his shoulder before taking his hand away. Jackie missed it, oddly.
Fifteen minutes later, Brian followed signs off one freeway onto another, and then onto the airport access. “If you want I can drop you at the entrance for your airline, but I think we have plenty of time. If we stay together, we can get coffee or something.”
“Yeah,” Jackie said. “Coffee would be lovely.”
Why MtSnow reads this story:
Because it’s Lou. And she’s never let me down. And the promise of a touch of BDSM? Another gorgeous cover designed by Reese Dante, making it another book that I would LOVE to own in paperback, also. AND we get to see a quick glimpse of Luki and Sonny…. How can I pass that up?!
WARNING: if you haven’t read at least up to book 3 in the Vasquez &James series, this review can be ‘spoilerish. Also. This story takes place BEFORE events in ‘Because of Jade’. Just to verify up front. This story with Brian and Jackie is 6 years after ‘Finding Jackie’ and events to do with Jade have NOT taken place yet.
I love that this is going to be its own series, and as with all of Lou’s stories, felt like I was wrapped up in a comfortable, handmade blanket that left me feeling warm, cozy, and happy.*sigh*
If you have read the James & Vasquez series, you will recall that we were only given a teasing glimpse of the possibilities of a relationship between Jackie and Brian in ‘Finding Jackie’. And, the fact that they both share a kink..except, well, Jackie only has the ‘potential’ of submission, and Brian, as a fairly new Dom, removes himself from temptation and the innate connection he feels with Jackie upon first meeting him at only 16-yrs-old to Brian’s 22-years. And he does it in quite a drastic way. By moving all the way to London to follow his interest in becoming a member of Scotland Yard.
It is good that we see them in the opening chapters meeting after all these years away from each other. After Jackie is no longer ‘jail-bait’, and has had the loving embrace of his uncle, the rest of his family, and therapy to heal from his trauma. But, can Brian be sure Jackie isn’t ‘broken’, being submissive due to fear and circumstances, not the innate naturalness of a healthy sub?
I love the awkwardness and really sweet way both of these guys reconnect. The first tentative emails, and the way they have to go about getting each other’s physical mailing address or cellphone when good ol former ‘Boss’ and ‘Uncle’ Luki refuses to give out personal information about anyone! It made me smile…
I enjoyed this story due to the following:
The beauty of more artistic hand-crafting, with Brian beginning to master Shibari (Japanese rope work), and Jackie learning leather-craft. The visuals of this handiwork from both men are so much richer with this, bringing back memories of Sonny with his beautiful handmade dyes and fabric ‘paintings’ and weaving.
The BDSM element. Pretty light in this story. Which is a good thing in my opinion due to Jackie’s past. Appreciated the questioning of how much his submission is a product of abuse or just weakness. I love that it wasn’t an unrealistic ‘fix’ and some effort was put in to the ‘why’ or possible pre-wiring of a submissive nature even before the ‘abuse incidents’.
It was fascinating learning about geocaching. And that it is a hobby many can get into worldwide. I love the description of the clothing, when they prepare to go to a club… The clothes that Jackie wears as a sub (yummmm, self-designed, buttery soft leather corset, and lace), and visualizing Brian as the Dom in black jeans and silk shirt with leather jacket.
The ‘Shibari’ rope work. It sounds beautiful. And Brian knits and crochets! Yet he is not in any way lessened as a ‘manly man’ *smiles* And animal lovers will enjoy Marley and his independent ways.
The London foggy, marshy, damp, aged atmosphere gave this story a nice spooky quality, almost like an old gothic horror/suspense novel… images of Jack-the-ripper around the corner, in a dark, dank alleyway. Ooooooh…
This story had all the elements of a good suspense novel. It starts out so that we, the reader, get a glimpse into the making of a criminal mind, then we get to follow both our MCs, and sit in suspense waiting for them to figure out what we, the reader, already suspect.
There were good little twists and turns, and I almost wish it could’ve been drawn out longer, with more detail, as there seemed to be a few little jumps in events that felt almost cut short, but I most definitely enjoyed this start to a new series, with visits from our previous, well-loved characters, and the light BDSM twist with the possibilities of another generation of sleuths. Most fun! Also, this ends with more of an HFN rather than an HEA, leaving room for more adventures and personal growth with this couple.
Lou Sylvre lives and writes on the rainy side of Washington State, penning mostly suspense/romance novels because she can’t resist giving her characters hard times but good love. Her personal assistant is Boudreau, a large cat who never outgrew his kitten meow, and he makes a point of letting her know when she’s taken a plot tangent too far. He (Boudreau) invites readers to give their feedback as well!
Where to find the author:
Tour Dates: March 16 – 27, 2015
I would like to give a BIG Thank You to Lou Sylvre and Will at Pride Promotions for letting us take place in this Blog Tour.