Dana and Erryn review The Same End (The Lion and the Lamb, Book 3) by Gregory Ashe (Released on audiobook by Hodgkin and Blount, November 11, 2021. Narrated by J.F. Harding. Listening time: 11 hours and 40 minutes. Ebook published by Hodgkin and Blount, January 29, 2021, 392 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
To read Dana’s review of The Same Breath (The Lion and the Lamb Book 1) click here.
To read Erryn’s review of The Same Breath (The Lion and the Lamb Book 1) click here.
To read the duo review of The Same Place (The Lion and the Lamb Book 2) click here.
Teancum Leon is pretty sure that if he plays his cards right, he can have it all: his childhood friend and former lover, Ammon Young; his best friend (although Tean is loath to admit it), Jem Berger; and his family. A boyfriend might even be in his future, although he’s having a heck of a time getting a second date with the guys he meets on Prowler.
Then the key suspect in a murder investigation asks to speak with Jem, overturning the precarious balance Tean has worked to maintain. A girl Jem knew in childhood is dead, and the man believed to have killed her was one of Jem’s tormentors at Decker Lake Juvenile Detention Center. Antonio Hidalgo insists he is innocent, and he begs Jem to find the real killer, a man Jem knows very well, the man who masterminded his torture at Decker: Tanner Kimball.
When Jem decides to check out Antonio’s story, Tean insists on helping. Their search takes them into Utah’s high desert, a land of redrock cliffs and hoodoo stones. But everything changes when they find a dead man in a remote canyon. He carries Tanner’s wallet, but the body has been disfigured, making identification difficult—if not impossible. Jem is convinced that the scene has been staged, and he’s determined to find Tanner and make him pay for the bodies in his wake.
Warnings begin piling up from the chief of police, the sheriff, a Bureau of Land Management special agent, even a Utah Highway Patrol trooper. Everyone wants Tean and Jem to understand that it’s in their best interest to go back to Salt Lake before they dig any deeper. A shipment of illegal drugs—several million dollars’ worth—might be the motive. But Tean and Jem begin to suspect that something else is driving events: a motive darker and stronger than money. Learning the truth, though, will take both men on a collision course with the past.
I really just want to melt over these characters. Tean and Jem are so devastatingly real and relatable, and they make me feel so much. Tean is something special. At first when I started this series, I thought of him as quirky and not necessarily the best decision maker. Tean’s relationship with the married cop was wrong in so many ways, and then he brought a pretty shady Jem into his life. As much as I came to love Jem, he was definitely a risk to the neat and orderly Tean, who worries about the many ways life can end; for him and the whole world. Over the course of the these three books though we came to see how loyal and helpful he was to people, even when they didn’t deserve it. His family didn’t accept his homosexuality and however bad they treated him, he still helped them out financially. His lover made him feel unworthy physically and mentally. I can’t help to see how good he still remained after all he’d been through. He tries so hard in the beginning of this book, to find a love he deserves, but also to have healthy friendships with Jem and his ex, Ammon.
Jem has also made so many changes in his life from the beginning of this book. After revealing that he was dyslexic, he slowly tries to improve himself. He works on reading, and he tries a few legitimate forms of work, but still relies on his ability to con people. Something that really comes in handy when solving crimes as well. He is a fast thinker who can weasel things out of people and himself out of some sticky situations. Learning about his past was the real devastation. The foster mother who taught him in the art of trickery, also used to abuse him. His credit was ruined by someone who should have put him first. And now we learn of the atrocities he suffered while in juvenile detention. His past has affected his life much more significantly than Tean’s did, but the way that he can project confidence in himself and keep a mostly positive attitude is amazing.
Together, I just love them. Though their relationship has been a real slow burn so far, most of it safely locked in the friend zone. Jem would say “best friend zone,” while Tean would insist they’re more like associates. (Their banter had me smiling more often than not.) Friendship intact, Jem starts this book still sleeping wherever is most convenient, empty apartments or with whichever guy who takes him home from the bar or club. Tean worries about Jem and does all he can to help him better his life, and Jem does really want to try. It’s just not that easy, and it only gets worse when someone Jem knew at juvie contacts him to clear his name from murder. At first Jem is fine if the guy goes down for the crime, seeing as how he hurt and humiliated Jem. But if it means that a far worse foe goes free, Jem reluctantly agrees to help.
The mystery in this book was crazy. At first it seemed simple with a couple of former juvenile delinquents who hadn’t quite changed their ways. Then there was a pending drug deal, an entire force of corrupt police officers, and a pair of vigilantes who wanted to see a man named Tanner get his due (just like Jem.) The players in this game of murder and drugs were many, and Tean was forced to do something he never wanted to. It was crazy but they got out, only it wasn’t the happy ending they wanted. Not right away. While Jem got the closure he needed, Tean was not himself. Yet. In this book, Jem really steps up and shows he is the person who is right for Tean. He gives Tean what he needs instead of worrying about his own needs. Jem is the only one to put Tean first. Tean’s family appears in this book again, and they seem like they want to be bettter to Tean, but they have a long way to go. At this point I don’t know if things will be right with them, but finally, finally, Jem and Tean are on the same page and things are looking up for them.
My goodness, I know my review is quite lengthy, but there is only a little bit more. I am not sure if this is the finale of a trilogy or if there will be more to come of this pair. I would gladly read more and I hope there is more, but there was a sense of finality in this book. I really loved the growth of the two characters. Tean grew more of a backbone, and Jem is definitely going to try to stop breaking the law, as much anyway. They aren’t perfect, but they are real and I love them. I definitely recommend the whole series. The audiobooks narrated by J.F. Harding were brought to life with his narrations and I thought he did a great job.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
From the start, I had my doubts. A wildlife veterinarian and a grifter solving murders didn’t seem plausible to me, and yet Mr. Ashe made it work. Several times over. These books are engaging, funny, and have mysteries that hold up.
Part of what works is the central couple. Tean is just a guy trying to live his life. He puts up with psychological abuse from his family – mostly around his sexuality – and has been held hostage to the financial demands of his parents. His lover, Ammon, was married to a woman and yet kept stringing Tean along, claiming he was *just* about to leave his wife. And yet never quite did. Tean has found a friend in Jem, and although the grifter is an interesting character, he’s up to his old tricks. Finally, Tean has decided to try dating – and has signed up for Prowler. What happens? He meets great guys, but none ever want a second date. Annoying.
I’m still in love with Jem. He’s trying. In every conceivable way. He’s taking the reading lessons, even though he doesn’t want to. He’s attempting to stay on the straight and narrow, even though society keeps pushing him back to the grift. Finally, he’s annoying to poor Tean who worries about the man and can’t quite seem to get rid of him.
Then another murder takes place. The accused killer demands to see Jem, and Jem is suddenly pulled into a tangled web where he’s forced to face past trauma. Of course, Tean is not just going to let him investigate without helping. They join forces again to solve the mystery.
I admit, I did not see the perpetrator coming. Did not predict the twisted plot. Did not think certain characters would ever get their comeuppance. But everything made sense by the end of the book and the killer(s) got their due. Jem and Tean also found a way to move forward, despite their respective traumas. The ending was brilliant. Oh, and Skippio. Can’t forget the awesome dog.
So the trilogy has come to an end. I’ll miss these two, but I feel they’ve come full circle and the conclusion was perfect. Unlike some of Ashe’s other couples, I feel these guys are good and retirement from crime solving works. Finally, I’ll mention JF Harding. I enjoy his narration style, and I think he did a great job with these books. Definitely worth a listen.
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.