Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: Yanni’s Story
SERIES: Spencer Cohen #4
AUTHOR: N.R. Walker
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 411 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 28th, 2017
When Yanni Tomaras is kicked out of his family home, his parents’ final words are religious insults and an order to never return. Homeless and desperate, he’s lured in by Lance—charming on the outside, an evil predator underneath—who abuses Yanni until he finds the courage to leave.
Yanni should feel free. But by the time Spencer Cohen finds him, he’s resigned to being handed back to Lance and once again being caged by fear.
Starting school and a part-time job, Yanni begins to reclaim his life. But a love for silent films leads him to Peter Hannikov, a man with a kind heart but who’s twice his age. An unlikely friendship between them blooms into so much more. Neither man knows what he wants, at first. Finding out exactly what he needs is Yanni’s story.
“I’d spent years as a bird, caged with my wings clipped, tormented and beaten.
I thought I’d escaped when I’d left my abuser, but in hindsight, I could see that I was still caged, this time by fear and self-doubt.
Spencer and Andrew, and Andrew’s parents, opened the door to the cage that confined me.
But it was Peter who taught me how to fly.”
Trigger Warning: Descriptions of violence, suicide, and sexual assault. Reader discretion advised.
We first met Yanni in one of the Spencer Cohen books, when Spencer is hired to track him down, as part of a scheme by Yanni’s ex-boyfriend to get back together. Unfortunately Spencer doesn’t know that Yanni had recently escaped from an abusive relationship, and Lance had hired Spencer to reclaim his property. Fortunately Spencer sees how badly Yanni needs help, and takes him to Andrew’s parents. Andrew’s mother had been abused, and has spent her years since not only as an actress, but she and her husband have been very active in saving people from similar situations. They immediately take Yanni in, and slowly help him heal. They find him a therapist, eventually a place to live in a shared home situation, help him get headed back to acting school, get him a temporary job, clothing, a phone, etc…. But what this relationship also spawns, via Spencer and Andrew, is a connection that leads to friendship with Peter.
Peter had hired Spencer to help get back together with his ex-boyfriend, which didn’t work, but when he was out with Spencer after their “date”, Andrew and Yanni stop by. Yanni and Peter get to talking, and realize they have a common interest in black and white movies. The two begin to see movies together, and very carefully build a friendship. Neither is at all interested in a romantic relationship, even though it is clear to us that they are perfect for each other. But Yanni has sooooo many issues…
Of course this is a romance, so you know it has to eventually turn in to a romantic relationship!
Yanni does have lots to deal with, and we see how he goes about his healing. We sit in on his meetings with his counselor, his dinners with Mr. and Mrs. Landon, his temp job at the acting school he eventually attends that is run my Mr. Landon, and we see him building friendships at the house he moves to. We see him get a new job and build confidence, we see him go back to school, we see him have the occasional melt down, and we see him help someone else in a very similar situation. Actually a couple of someones. We see him spend lots of time going on non-dates with Peter, which eventually turn in to dates. We see him work through his sexual issues and gain confidence. We also see him discover that he has a daddy kink, and apparently Peter does as well. The two are quite far apart in everything, age, education, economics…. their only common things are movies and the daddy/son thing. Which is apparently enough!
So. I loved the Spencer Cohen books, they were quirky, fun and fast paced. This book is not. I get that Yanni is a very damaged young man with lots of healing to do. But this book has nothing in common with the other three books in the series. Other than Spencer, Andrew, and his parents of course. This is all about Yanni, as it should be, given his situation. Unfortunately I didn’t really love it. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it. I liked Yanni just fine, and I liked Peter just fine, and I was ok with their relationship even though the Daddy thing isn’t to my taste. No kink shaming intended, but it’s not something I find appealing to read is all. I had a hard time seeing a connection between the two of them, other that one as a father/son relationship. I didn’t get romance. I got caring, loving, helping, protecting, healing, but not really romance. I think part of it was not seeing in to Peter’s head. We only see things from Yanni’s perspective, I don’t feel like I got to know Peter. It felt very one-sided to me. It’s all about what Yanni needs and wants, but I didn’t really see what Peter got out of it. So that was hard for me.
But my big issue was the length of the book. It is really long, and it took forever for anything to happen. It goes on and on about Yanni… I found myself skimming his meetings, his dinners, his chatting, his classes, it was just too long. We are told way too much. There’s also not much drama. I wanted something dramatic to happen, the evil ex to show up, something dramatic. But other than a couple of melt downs not much occurs to directly affect Yanni. There is a thing that does happen toward the end that causes some emotional upset (avoiding spoilers!), but it somehow wasn’t enough. It was all too easy somehow. I wish this book had been half the length, and twice the drama.
I am a fan of N.R. Walker, and this is the first time I haven’t loved one of her books. I wasn’t exactly disappointed, but I was left wishing for more. So I’ll go with an average rating on this one, it was just ok for me.
If you have read the Spencer books, you should probably read this one to see what does happen with Yanni. If you haven’t read them, I can highly recommend them! You could probably read this one as a standalone, but I’d read the others first.