Author: A.J. Thomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 266 Pages
At a Glance: I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book.
Reviewed By: Janet
Blurb: A night of drunken confusion at nineteen resulted in Patrick Connelly fathering a child. Determined to be there for his son, Patrick walked away from a sport he loved and forever hid his sexuality. After Patrick’s brutal divorce and a vicious hate crime, his son, Jay, has become obsessed with graffiti. Hoping for a fresh start, Patrick moves Jay to his childhood home in Seattle. Within two weeks, Jay is arrested again. On his way to pick Jay up, Patrick stops an assault, then finds himself in handcuffs too. Thinking things can’t get any worse, he’s confronted by the sexiest man he’s ever seen—his son’s new probation officer, Ken Atkins.
The hardest part of Ken’s job is working with difficult parents, and the undeniably handsome Patrick Connelly is going to be a difficult parent. A chance encounter and steamy hookup with Patrick leave Ken blindsided. As they work together to try to keep Jay on the right path, the passion between them proves impossible to resist. When the assault Patrick prevented comes back to haunt them and Jay gets into trouble again, Ken must convince Patrick that ensuring his son’s happiness doesn’t have to mean sacrificing his own.
Review: The Way Things Are is A.J. Thomas’s fourth book, and it was eagerly anticipated. Although a relatively new author, Thomas has already become very well known for her vibrant characters and the realism of her stories. She also has a knack for adding a twist to her mysteries that couch the love stories she writes.
In The Way Things Are we meet Patrick Connelly, who is a gay single father of a 14 year old boy. Patrick is a longshoreman, operating a crane in the opening scene, and WOW, I was sucked right into the story. So many plot lines and characters are introduced in the first two chapters, and it is so fresh and new that the reader just absorbs it all, intrigued and amused at the same time. The pace is very quick although there is a timeline laid out to buffer the speed of the story so it does not overwhelm the reader at all. We are simply on board for the journey.
Patrick’s son Jay is a pivotal part of the story, and he is a colorful character in his own right, with a quirk that is rooted in misery but feels so humorous to the reader. Ken Atkens is the Juvenile Probation Counselor who is assigned to Jay upon his arrest for vandalism. Ken has a permanent leg injury that has prevented him from being a cop like the rest of his family, but he is comfortable working in this related field. So we have two damaged men, plus a troubled teenager; throw in a few dead bodies and a possible human trafficking scheme, and we have our story. We so don’t! Ms. Thomas teases us with the passion between the two men, flirts with the danger surrounding them, and in the process has us totally invested in her story.
Her character building is so good we can fully picture the entire cast of the novel; the secondary characters are as vivid as the primary ones, and this adds a depth and richness to the entire book. Her mystery is carefully crafted, she drops hints and red herrings equally throughout the chapters, and the reader is gifted with the knowledge of who the bad guy is, but only just before the resolution of the story.
The romance between the MCs is fun to watch happen; we can clearly see the attraction and desire between them. The sex is arousing because it is simply hot! But also because we are made to feel the strain of not being able to have the closeness they want, and instead resorting to the furtive moments they do enjoy.
I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. It is a fresh, angst-y, humorous, well plotted mystery and a love story. The city of Seattle that A J Thomas shows us as the setting for this story is a working seaport city that I have never been shown before. I simply love the skill that this author has to present us with known entities and situations in a totally new way.
There is a HEA for these two men, they earned it, and that’s the way things are.
You can buy The Way Things Are here: