Reviewed by Helyce
When Evan (Ethan) Costa was a little boy, he was the victim of a sex act that changed everything that he’d known up until that point in his young life. His mother, unable to accept or deal with the incident, becomes a cold, unloving woman, and Evan’s siblings not knowing any better follow her example. Evan grows up, hungry for human touch and as he enters his teen years, discovers sex and the close skin on skin contact the act provides. When he finds Johnnies, and meets the men who work there, they become his new family and provide everything he’d been missing from his own family-or so he thought.
Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping his mom take care of his ill younger sister, Amelia. He’s not been able to focus on himself or do any of the things that someone his age might have done. He works to help support the household and he does it with love and not one ounce of regret. When Jonah meets Ethan, he’s a bit mesmerized by Ethan’s easy confidence, humor and is very attracted to him.
When Ethan meets Jonah he finds an easy friendship that he is excited to pursue. A friendship that does not cross the lines of sex and touch that he’s set for himself. But as their friendship grows, and starts to change, Jonah wants more and he’ll do whatever he needs to do to show Ethan that they can have what Ethan has always longed for but in a much more meaningful way.
It is no secret that I am a fan of Amy Lane. Her ability to write tortured, emotional angst is brilliant and I eagerly anticipate every release. Though I adored her Talker and Promises series, Johnnies has become a favorite for me and I especially enjoyed Ethan and Jonah’s story.
Considering what happened to Ethan, and what he went through within his own family, I’m surprised his psyche wasn’t more damaged. I credit the shrink he saw through his childhood and into his teens who provided him with a semblance of love and support he should have been getting from his family. After the incident, Ethan’s mother changes completely and instead of healing her family with unconditional love, it seems that she somehow begins to relate touching and hugging Ethan with what happened to him and simply stops touching him. Ethan’s siblings follow her example, her husband leaves her; so Ethan looks to satisfy this need for human contact elsewhere. It’s no surprise that in his teens he uses sex to accomplish this goal, easily getting into a friends with benefits situation with a girl in high school.
Once Ethan and Jonah meet, I loved where the story went. We see Ethan in a different light as he actively pursues Jonah’s friendship. Jonah, on the other hand, is enamored with Ethan and not quite sure what to do with it. I loved seeing Ethan in this space where he starts to make different connections between love, emotion, touch, sex etc. He observes Jonah with his family and sees what a family can and should be. He begins to be able to separate and identify the differences so that he can accept everything Jonah has to offer.
What I find incredibly interesting about how this series is written is the fact that each couple’s story is happening concurrently to the other stories. While Ethan and Jonah are becoming friends and then lovers, everything that happened or is happening in book 1 & 2 is in the background of this story. Incredibly, though, it is hardly repetitive in nature and actually feels new and highlights important material without taking away at all from the focus of the couple at hand. I love Ms. Lane’s ability to write this story this way so that it feels like all the puzzle pieces fall into place effortlessly.
I loved Ethan so much in this story. He’s a victim and a survivor and Ms. Lane is genius at giving us a characters that are able to be so much better than what is given to or done to them. I love this. Jonah, was adorable in a wide eyed and vulnerable sense-though we see his extreme strength and confidence shine forward once he decides that Ethan is what he wants no matter what. I don’t know who is up next, but I can’t wait!
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