Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: …And All Shall Fade to Black
AUTHOR: Layla Dorine
PUBLISHER: Encompass Ink
LENGTH: 370 Pages
RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2017
Moving into his new apartment, Jax never expected to have to break up a fight between his new neighbors, resulting in a physical altercation and a visit from the cops. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would lead to him meeting Danny, the cute theater manager and playwright that lived next door. Unfortunately, his first impression of Danny and the way he’d cowered away in the fight with his ex, wasn’t exactly a favorable one. Jax already has his own issues to deal with, between his past problems with his mother and the chain of men who’ve floated in and out of her life, his new job as a piercer in his sister’s tattoo shop and his struggles with an eating disorder; the last thing he plans to add to it is a relationship. Yet Danny isn’t so easy to ignore and when they find themselves bonding after Danny shows him around town, and more when Jax offers to help with sets for his latest play, it becomes harder and harder for him to ignore the connection forming between them. As Jax’s insecurities and food issues grow more and more out of control, he find himself turning to Danny for help, rather than his longtime friends Callum and Max who lives just downstairs. Danny’s mix of patience, stubbornness and tough love make it harder and harder for Jax to keep his distance, and somewhere in the course of their daily lives, they find themselves moving from being friends, to being more.
Layla Dorine is an author that I’ve only recently discovered but she is fast becoming a favourite. She writes characters that I feel I should dislike, but instead I fall in love with them. And she writes stories that, in my opinion, have great depths and are well planned. Now maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she just makes up the story as she goes along and there’s no planning going on at all, but if that’s the case then she’s even more talented than I first thought because she always manages to pull the threads of her tale together seamlessly to give us a completely satisfying story.
In this particular book, Jax is the character that I felt I should have hated with a fiery passion. He’s a judgmental douche-canoe, right? Yes, he saves a cowering Danny from a raging boyfriend, but he condemns him for not fighting back for the remainder of the book. I’ve read other reviews, and a lot of readers seem to find Jax’s attitude to be unforgivable. I however, felt nothing but pity for Jax. From my point of view, Jax’s childhood conditioned him to react to domestic violence by blaming both the perpetrator and the victim. Because of what he witnessed and suffered as a child, he sees victims of domestic violence as weak and pathetic. I’d go so far as to say that Jax was suffering from PTSD due to his home life as a child. The author did an absolutely brilliant job of keeping me from despising this guy, against my better judgment. I also loved the way she really made Jax work to change his conditioning. Just because he fell for Danny, it didn’t make everything magically better. He still had to work through why he felt that way, and at times he still struggled with not looking down on Danny because of the way they first met. This author excels at creating these messed up characters. For all of those readers sick to death of perfect male specimens – this author writes the men for you.
As to Jax’s eating disorder, I really, really liked the way the author handled that. I guess Jax is what you’d call a functioning anorexic. Again, this all stems from his sucky childhood and you get the impression that he’ll never truly be over his problem. He manages it to some extent, and seeks help whenever he escalates to “purging”, but there’s no miraculous recovery by the end of the story.
With the occupations of piercer and playwright to add another element of interest to the story, …And All Shall Fade to Black was always going to prove a favourite for me. I fully intend to check out more books by Layla Dorine and urge any readers who haven’t read her books before to give one a go.