Erryn reviews ‘Survivor’ by T.M. Smith. This book was released by the author on August 28, 2017, 186 pages. The audio was narrated by Nick J. Russo and was released on January 30, 2018. Published by TTC Productions, it is 5 hrs and 33 mins. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: When the first book came out, it made my ‘must read’ list. When the audio was announced, I pounced.
Taylor Langford’s world is torn apart when he is only thirteen years old—his parents killed, leaving him alone and orphaned. With no living relatives, he’d certainly be another statistic if not for the intervention of the policeman who found Taylor in the crawl space where his mother hid him that fateful night. Despite the tragedy and resulting anguish in his life, Taylor knows how lucky he is.
Frank Moore is a rookie with the Dallas Police Department when he and his partner answer a call in Devonshire, one of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods. They think the young boy in various pictures throughout the home has been kidnapped until they find him, shaken but alive. Officer Moore recognizes the pain in the kid’s eyes, having lost his own mother to cancer when he was just a boy. He steps in, making sure Taylor is placed with a loving foster family. Over the years, Frank becomes a permanent fixture in Taylor’s life.
A decade later, the case remains unsolved and the once gangly, uncertain teenager is now a college graduate who knows exactly what he wants. He’s coming home to the man that helped mold and shape his life, the man he’s loved for as long as he can remember, Frank Moore. But Taylor isn’t the only person returning to Dallas, and while Frank is distracted by his own conflicting feelings and the new bond growing between the two, the past creeps up on them, determined to finish what was started ten years earlier.
Frank gave the woman a gentle shove toward her home, reiterating the need for her to stay inside. Drawing his weapon, he walked the perimeter of the backyard, checking the other side of the house and behind the shed, making sure everything was clear outside before he entered the large, metal structure and slowly made his way through. It wouldn’t be the first time Frank had flushed out a perp attempting to hide in a workshop or storage space, which is what he seemed to be looking at. There were tools, boxes, miscellaneous junk, and three bikes hanging from the ceiling. Stepping back out onto the grass, Frank closed the door and checked his watch: eighteen minutes since he asked Caleb to call for backup, which meant they should be arriving at any moment.
He heard footsteps approaching and turned just as Caleb came around the corner, and the night sky over the top of the house lit up with the faint glow of flashing lights. Pulling his gun from the holster, Caleb nodded toward the back door. “I’ll cover you.”
Frank approached the back door cautiously, twisting the knob and cursing internally when it opened. They entered the home and checked each room, looked behind every door they passed as they slowly made their way to the front door, which was locked, to let the two officers sent as backup inside the home.
Frank sent one officer to the back of the house where the broken window was, advising him to step carefully and not touch anything, to be careful not to contaminate the crime scene. The second officer stayed put at the front door. From the two vantage points, they could see each other and while neither of them could watch every square inch downstairs, they would notice any movement. Caleb had closed the doors to the rooms and closets they’d already cleared downstairs, so it was highly unlikely anyone was in that part of the home. Upstairs though, was an entirely different story. Flashlights and weapons in hand, Frank and Caleb climbed the stairs and split off at the top of the second-floor landing, one going to either side of the square-shaped hallway that framed the staircase.
The bodies of Emily and Sean Langford were on their bedroom floor, a picture of them with their son on the ground beside her, glass broken. Frank assumed it’d been knocked off the bedside table, probably during a struggle. What caught his attention wasn’t the framed image or Emily’s hazel eyes, staring right through him, empty and lifeless. Frank’s eyes were drawn to the large pool of blood underneath her husband, Sean. The man lay slumped on his side, throat cut, dried blood caked on his neck and chin.
“Any sign of the kid?” he asked Caleb.
“Not yet, but the attic still needs to be searched,” his partner told him.
Continue reading this exclusive excerpt tomorrow at The Novel Approach
Listen to a 5 minute sample >> here <<
This book covers a decade, from the moment Taylor’s parents were murdered through to the reappearance of someone who might kill Taylor, the only survivor of that night of horror. The bulk of the book, though, is the love story. After the murder of Taylor’s parents, the young man was adopted by a very loving couple who made him their own, coping with the outbursts and tantrums and nightmares that plagued the young boy.
Fortunately, Valerie and Charles Stone are great people who understand keeping Frank and his partner Caleb in Taylor’s life provides stability and continuity. The two men, as well as Caleb’s girlfriend, form a support system to guide Taylor through his teenage years and into a successful college and then graduate program. At one point, Taylor assures the Stones that they are his parents and for anyone who has been adopted by loving people, that is an easy thing to assure. He will never forget his parents, but he’s built a good life for himself.
Ten years is not that much, but the power imbalance was a good reason for Taylor, and his savior Frank, to keep their feelings to themselves. Now, Taylor is ready to go out and get what he wants, and he wants Frank. Everyone around them has seen this coming and most are accepting. Is that realistic? I don’t know, but when two men love each other, fighting for that love makes sense. It’s interesting how the dynamic works for them – both men have an equal role in the relationship. Sometimes one takes the lead, while, appropriately, the other is willing to defer. And when it comes to being together, they do their best.
I did have a couple of issues. The 13-year-old Taylor, on the night of the murder, felt more like a 6-year-old. In fact, I had to double-check his age. Maybe it’s just me. Also, Frank is really expressive. That’s great except he’s a police officer and it’s hard to believe he can be so easy to read. Finally, the dénouement. There is an element of suspense, for sure, but the backstory of the murderer was just a bit over-the-top. It was so ridiculous, it took me out of the story. And, to be frank, I’m not sure I understand the entire ‘mystery’.
That being said, I did enjoy the book. I am a huge Nick J. Russo fan and aside from a few words that were mispronounced, he did a great job. I liked that he didn’t make Taylor sound too juvenile – making it believable that a man in his early twenties could be mature enough to be in a relationship with an older man. His narration brought the book to life.
I’m very glad I listened to the book. I was expecting something more angsty, but this worked out well. A good love story always pulls at my heart and I fell in love with Tay and his Frankie. Well-done.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
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A military brat born and raised at Ft. Benning Georgia; TM Smith is an avid reader, reviewer and writer. A Texas transplant, she now calls DFW her home. Most days she can be found curled up with a good book, or ticking away on her next novel.
Smith is a single mom of three disturbingly outspoken and decidedly different kids, one of which is Autistic. Besides her writing, she is passionate about Autism advocacy and LGBT rights. Because, seriously people, Love is Love!
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