!!Warning: This review could possibly contain spoilers if you haven’t read the previous two books; Enlightened and Abandoned!!
With her third book in the Little Boy Lost series J.P. Barnaby has managed to baffle me with its plot twists! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined where the Little Boy Lost series would go but I found that I couldn’t tear myself away as Vanished revealed its storylines. At the beginning of Vanished there was no clue that by the end I would be reeling from the implications as events unfolded themselves. I thought the beginning was where the pace of storytelling was taken a notch down. Brian starts his bus ride to San Diego and it was a moment in the story where a bit or recapping was done. Hopes and dreams where still shiny and new, and it was a moment which made me eagerly anticipate the arrival of Brian in San Diego.
Once in San Diego the first priorities of Brian where procuring a place to rent and landing himself a job. It quickly leads him to Leo Horshiwitz who runs a boardinghouse and immediately the setting and its inhabitants piqued my interest. The two most personable characters where Mike and Emilio whose presence grew over the course of the story. Leo was the fatherly go-to person and his work in the GLBT Community Center added to that sense. There are a few more guys in the boarding house but Mike, who seemed the ultimate player just claimed me with his backstory. Emilio is this fun loving guy who is always in to party but small comments here and there just tugged at my heartstrings and make him so likeable.
At first though the story focused on Brian in his search for Jamie. Brian gives it his all and each time it was a dead end I felt the disappointment ride me just as hard as it did him. The doubt riddled moments where despair bloomed were hard to read. I didn’t want Brian to give up hope, give up on his quest, and yet I understood each and every shred of emotion coursing through him. I think the author did such an incredible job of imbuing layers of conflicting emotions next to relaying the internal dialogues of Brian! It forged such an intimate portrayal of a young man on the verge of change where I knew decisions had to be made.
Next to the whirlwind of steep emotions there was also time for developing new friendships, fun, laughter and exploring one’s horizon. The eroticism is scorching and Mike is part of why I went up in flames. He is sexually liberal and opposed to Brian’s rigid control and single-mindedness it gives humorous interplay next to the erotic one. The scene on the dance floor still gets me tingly and showcases a different side of Brian!! Besides that, the connection between the core group of characters is not only one of sexual appetite but also infused with a deep sense of friendship and loyalty.
Through the various events it enables emotions of doubts, blooming sensuality and joy to intertwine in an attention grabbing story. Brian allows me to go through it all but leaving me in the dark where he would end up. He was torn in two and then a situation developed that instigated heart-pounding plot twists. Never in a million years did I see certain things coming!! So while the story started out with an uneventful bus ride it ended up with me panting in shock. A good shock but still, it also made me realize this author could dish out anything for her characters and the most amazing part is, she made it understandable. And then, to add to my elevated blood pressure, she threw in another shocker that made me cry.
The range of feelings each Little Boy Lost novel triggers is amazing. There are no cardboard characters to be found. Each character comes alive via dialogue, quirks and quips. While I felt there was a sense of innocence to the previous two stories because Brian still was kind of innocent, his transformation is superbly done in Vanished. It gradually turned this story in to a gritty and provoking ending where all things are possible. Time and again J.P. Barnaby gives an emotionally rip-roaring story and it is the very reason I'm always asking for more!
With VANISHED, J.P. Barnaby will give you an absorbing intensity in storytelling, compelling characters and great emotional development. Next to this she managed to up the ante even more and give this series a twist that will catch many readers by surprise. Long may J.P. Barnaby write!
Quotes for you to sample:
“Hey, Pete, who’s your little friend?” he asked with a leer. Andy’s arm remained around my shoulders, and he pulled me just a little closer. “He’s a friend of Leo’s; we were just going upstairs. Whatcha doin’ tonight, Mike?”
“Twins,” the man said as two younger guys, maybe even younger than me, walked out of the room looking a little dazed. The boys were identical except for their messy clothes. In simultaneous movements, they leaned over on each side of the guy and kissed him, one tangling his fingers in the man’s short brown hair, before making their way back down the hall the way we’d come.
“You’re something else,” Andy said, laughing as the naked man half shrugged.
“So I’m told,” he replied with a wink, and I couldn’t help but smile at him. His dark eyes twinkled with humor as they studied me closely. “Wanna find that out, baby boy?” Very slowly, Mike traced my lips with his finger.