Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: A Worthy Man
SERIES: The Men of Halfway House #5
AUTHOR: Jaime Reese
PUBLISHER: Romandeavor, Inc
LENGTH: 124,000 Words
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017
Vannguard Shaw has spent the last ten years serving a life sentence and adjusting to the ache of solitude. He accepts his fate, a sacrifice for the only man he ever loved and the one person who saw beyond his rough edges.
Drayton grew up with a trust fund and pre-planned future, but an unexpected encounter one night forces him to abandon everything and start from scratch. He is now a self-made man and developer of one of the most sought after electric exotic automobiles in the world with a fortune greater than that of his birthright. Yet, he’d surrender it all—again—for the only man who’s still ever-present in his heart.
After a decade and entirely too much distance between them, Vann is suddenly released back into a world that has been nothing but cruel. Drayton never lost hope they would once again reunite and pick up where they left off, but Vann’s stubborn nature and repeated encounters with a heartbreaking world prove to be a challenge.
Vann needs to tap into his fighting spirit’s reservoir of strength and hope life doesn’t punish him for taking a chance. Only then will he realize his own value and feel worthy enough to finally have Drayton’s heart. And their chance at forever.
“I’ve loved you for so long…I don’t know what it’s like to not love you.”
The Men of Halfway House are some of my favourite books in this genre, but I find them to be some of the most difficult to review. Because they’re so complex and detailed, I simply never know where to start or what to include. So I’ve decided to use some of my favourite quotes from A Worthy Man to inspire me and keep my rambling on track.
The ache of Vann’s absence still remained the same after all these years. Ten years apart. Five hundred twenty-five weeks’ worth of letters.
Drayton and Vann met seventeen years ago when Vann rescued nerdy, friendless Drayton from a group of bullies. They formed an instant bond, became the very best of friends, and as they grew into adulthood, their friendship grew into love. They would spend hours together at their secret spot by a lake, their initials carved into a tree, claiming the piece of grass as their own. They very sweetly waited until the younger Vann turned eighteen before sharing their first kiss, and then sharing much more…Does this sound like I’m relating a fairytale? Well, it kinda was, because at this point, along came the evil queen (aka, Drayton’s very rich, politician mother) and the two lovers were cruelly separated for a decade.
Now, as I already mentioned, this series is one of my very favourites, but the whole reunited lovers theme is one that I never really enjoy. When these two men had their storyline introduced in the previous book of the series, I wasn’t sure if I’d read Vann and Dray’s tale. Lovers who have separated only to find each other again – it’s hard to sell me on their second HEA. But, this story took an altogether different route. Although the two men were kept apart for ten years, in their hearts they were always together. Vann survived prison by living in his memories of Dray, and Dray survived and thrived in business by living as though Vann was still by his side.
“You’ll always be my sexy, nerdy, sappy happy place.”
“I’ll be whatever you want me to be as long as you’re by my side.”
The love between these two men was something that I can’t remember ever coming across in a book before. It was intense in a way that should have seemed too exaggerated, but I was absolutely sold. I spent much of the book choked up; the mix of emotions the men were dealing with was getting me all emotional too. They were both a perfect blend of confusion, pain, love and hope. I was only 10% into the story before the tears started.
In some ways, Vann reminded me a lot of Cam, one of the main characters from book #2 who had also just spent a very long time in prison. His fear of feeling any kind of hope and the way he thought he wasn’t deserving of having anyone in his corner. Every time something good happened he was surprised, every time he was happy he waited for that happiness to be taken away. And I understood what he was feeling all too well, because whenever Vann started feeling optimistic that things might turn out ok, I would start to stress. I was desperate for Vann and Dray to get the happily ever after that they had both suffered so much for.
“I’ve waited ten years to have you back, and if I have to wait a little longer for you to come to me, then I’ll fucking wait. However long you need, I’ll be here waiting…for you. Because I love you.”
So, written-in-the-stars level love – check. But is it sexy? Oh yeah, it’s plenty sexy too. I appreciated the way that the author managed to draw out these two men (who are head over heels in love) getting their relationship back on track without including any ridiculous misunderstandings. And that delay covers their sexual relationship too. Two adult men who are obsessively in love with each other, who haven’t been together sexually for ten years, who kept themselves “untouched” for each other. And they don’t just fall into the nearest bed? And it’s actually believable? What is this sorcery? Obviously once the men do hit the sheets, they set that mattress on fire while working off all of their pent up sexual frustration.
For readers who have followed this series from the beginning, I would say that this book is most like the first Halfway House book. There’s little in the way of “bad guy” action, instead the focus is firmly fixed on Vann and Dray finding their way back to each other. There is some small drama with a character who works for Dray designing his new model car, but rather than distract from the main characters’ relationship, the issue was created by the author as a way for Vann to find his place in the world again. And I actually really enjoyed this part of the story.
Although A Worthy Man is book #5 in the series it can be read as a standalone. All of the characters from previous books do make brief appearances here, but there’s nothing that would confuse new readers. However, and I’m sure I’ve probably written this in my previous reviews of this series, I urge you to read the books from the very beginning. In a genre becoming accustomed to carelessly edited self-published books, The Men of Halfway House stories are excellent examples of what readers should be able to expect. These books are painstakingly created, from the covers to the words inside and the care and love that the author pours into them is evident. I couldn’t rate this series, or indeed the author, any higher. In my opinion, Jaime Reese is an artist.
D + V = ∞