Dana reviews The Same Breath (The Lion and the Lamb, Book 1) by Gregory Ashe (Released on audiobook by Hodgkin and Blount, February 18, 2021. Narrated by J.F. Harding. Listening time: 11 hours and 15 minutes. Ebook published by Hodgkin and Blount, September 25, 2020, 391 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Teancum Leon, who goes by Tean, is a wildlife veterinarian. His life has settled into a holding pattern: He loves his job, he hates first dates, and he only occasionally has to deal with his neighbor Mrs. Wish’s cat-related disasters.
All of that changes, though, when a man appears in his office, asking for help to find his brother. Jem is convinced that something bad has happened to Benny, and he thinks Tean might be able to help. Tean isn’t sure, but he’s willing to try. After all, Jem is charming and sweet and surprisingly vulnerable. Oh. And hot.
Then things get strange: Phone calls with no one on the other end of the line; surveillance footage that shows what might be an abduction; a truck that tries to run Tean and Jem off the road. As Tean and Jem investigate, they realize that Benny might have stumbled onto a conspiracy and that someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.
But not everything is as it seems, and Tean suspects that Jem has been keeping secrets of his own.
I came to know Gregory Ashe’s work through a different series featuring two police officers doing most of the sleuthing. That made sense. When I read this blurb, I was trying to figure out how and why a wildlife veterinarian would be asked to help find a missing brother. I was a little incredulous, but I do enjoy all of this author’s other books so I was curious to find out when I was offered an audiobook copy to review.
Jem’s missing brother is schizophrenic and a big environmentalist. He is known for going to the Division of Wildlife Resources where Tean works, and making complaints about a number of things, some of which might be a condition of his mental illness. He isn’t always taken seriously, but upon his disappearance, it brings Jem to Tean’s office seeking help. So I guess it wasn’t as big of a stretch as I thought it might be when the two work together to find out what happened to the young man. As usual, the mystery this author created was really good. There were many suspects and who exactly was involved in the taking and murdering of Tean’s brother as well as one of Tean’s co-workers ended up being a surprise to me.
This author usually creates really good and flawed characters. This series isn’t an exception. I don’t want to call Tean flawed, necessarily. He is a helpful neighbor and a loyal friend. He is involved with a married detective, waiting for the day for him to leave his wife, though, and he is filled with stories of despair about animals and loneliness. You can tell he is unhappy with his situation, but not really eager about changing it. Jem is a former foster kid with history of being abused. He lives his life conning and blackmailing people the way his foster mother did. There were moments I didn’t want to like him, but with his past and his dyslexia, I found there were reasons for his bad behavior. After a fight between him and Tean, I ended up feeling all the compassion for him.
Like this author’s other books and series, though, despite the attraction these two main characters feel for each other, their relationship will be hard won. I think both Tean and Jem need to learn to love themselves a little more before they can get a romance off the ground. They have solidified a friendship by the end of the book, and that makes me happy. I definitely feel a lot of hope for them and I look forward to the slow burn in future books.
A quick bit about the narration. I have listened to JF Harding many times and I really enjoy his narrations. Overall the story was a winner for me, I liked the mystery and the dynamics between the two main characters. I hope the next book releases on audio soon, I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
I’m a long-time Midwesterner. I’ve lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, my current home. Aside from reading and writing (which take up a lot of my time), I’m an educator.