Escaped: Little Boy Lost Book 5

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Title: Escaped
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Little Boy Lost: Escaped (Little Boy Lost Series)
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 200 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

A Guest review by Jenre

Summary review: The angst continues into book 5 of the Little Boy Lost series with Jamie trying to come off the drugs as he and Brian start to pick up the pieces of their relationship.

** This review contains spoilers for previous books in this series **

THE BLURB

Finally together, Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield have risked everything in a desperate escape. Jamie is now free of his tormentor, Steven O’Dell… for the moment. But Brian and Jamie know that one wrong choice could lead Steven to their door.

With the strength of Brian and his friends to protect him, Jamie hides and finds the one person he is truly afraid of—himself. The long, lonely hours in the place Leo found for them to stay leave Jamie with nothing to do but think. He thinks about Brian, about the direction their lives should take. He thinks about his parents, about the industry he left behind. Mostly, though, he thinks about drugs. Jamie wants to feel good again, forget about his self-hatred, and stop the gnawing cravings that prey upon his mind and body even as he tries to start a new life with Brian.

One moment of weakness may prove to be fatal for them both.

THE REVIEW

We’re into the penultimate book of this series now. A series I’ve followed compulsively since I first read Enlightened. Those of you who are thinking that maybe it’s time for the angst levels to drop are going to be disappointed as this book is just as emotion filled and harrowing as the previous stories.

The story begins directly after the previous book. Jamie has been gravely injured by his lover Steven and been forced to take an alarming amount of cocaine. He’s rescued by Brian, Mike, Alex and Leo, as well as others from the porn studio, and taken to the boarding house where his injuries are tended to and he has chance to recover. Brian has rented a studio apartment for them both and looks after Jamie as he starts to go through his withdrawal. Jamie hates being so dependent on Brian, and so begins to take risks and tell lies which leads them both into danger.

Like the previous book, this story is narrated by Jamie’s first person perspective. This is entirely necessary in my opinion because some of Jamie’s actions in this book would not have come across well if we didn’t get a deep insight into his mind during the course of the book. Knowing his thoughts made his actions realistic and without them I would have wondered why on earth Brian stayed with Jamie.

The main focus of the story is Jamie’s recovery from domestic abuse and drug addiction. The first is not an easy theme, as many readers of book 4 will already know. The men live in fear of being discovered, and of Jamie being taken again by Steven. There’s a constant uneasiness in the story, which gives the tone of the book an unsettling edge. Like the previous book, I thought the author had shown well the fear of living with an unstable partner, and how that bleeds into Jamie and Brian’s relationship even when they are supposedly safe. Jamie hates the scars that mar his body and make him unable to work in front of the camera any more, but more than that, he hates how the withdrawal from the drugs makes him weak and unable to look after himself properly. Again, this aspect of the story was realistic and whilst Jamie isn’t shown in the best light, especially when he takes foolish and selfish risks, I could still understand why he acted in that way.

The hard and uncompromising themes are then contrasted with the almost sweet and beautiful love that Brian has for Jamie. My heart ached for him because he seems so pure beside the ugliness in Jamie, and he’s desperate to recapture the beauty of their relationship before Jamie was taken from him. Jamie himself recognises this and knows that he doesn’t deserve the love, affection and attention that Brian gives him – one of the reasons, I think, which makes him almost self-destructive. On one hand Jamie wants to be the strong one again – as he was when we first met him in book one – but he’s not prepared to wait to be well again and so instead is weaker than ever. This is the first time since that first book that the pair have been able to spend time with each other for a sustained period and to me it just highlighted how much both men had changed through the course of the series, and the depth of character growth in both of them. The growth in Jamie, just within these pages is phenomenal and it’s proof of the skill of this author that by the end my feelings for Jamie had changed. My heart ached for him at the end.

Another part I enjoyed was seeing the support network that Brian now has. He has strong friendships and people around him who are willing to take risks to protect him. These are people who love Brian for his sweetness and resolve and who will help him even when they are not sure he’s doing the right thing. In particular I liked how these guys are turning to each other for love, Alex and Mike especially. Their relationship provides a ray of sunshine in what could be seen as quite a bleak installment of this series.

This was not an easy book to read and we are left on another cliffhanger. It was, however, a rewarding read and a necessary development in the relationship between Jamie and Brian. I’m wholly committed to seeing this series through now and really, really hope that the final book gives a much needed happy ending for Brian and Jamie.

One final caution: This series is meant to be read in order and so this cannot be read as a standalone story. I do urge you to read the series though, which starts with Enlightened.