GHOSTS by Jackie Keswick
Publication Date: February 10, 2016
Genres: Adult,Contemporary, LGBT, M/M, Novella, Romance, Suspense
Synopsis: Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.
When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.
Gareth had been right, at least where the food was concerned. By the time the soup was a promise of velvety, orange-and-fennel-scented richness and the goose was roasted to perfection, Jack had started to regard cooking with Gareth as a new form of torture. He had prepared a mountain of sprouts, peeled blanched chestnuts until his fingertips were sore, and been smacked over the head more than once with a wooden spoon for sneaking strips of the rather tasty prosciutto he was supposed to wrap around the chipolatas.
“I bought extra so I could eat some,” he whined, only to hear Gareth laugh.
“I doubt you bought that much extra. And anyway, dinner is ready when you are.”
“Want me to light the fire?”
Jack left Gareth to the contemplation of the contents of the wine rack while he lit the fire he’d set just that morning. A small flame sprang up from the thin shavings of kindling. The fresh pine he had added to the stack of wood hissed and caught fire, releasing scents of peace and woodland to mingle with the enticing aromas of roast goose and baked orange. The drapes were closed against the dark and damp of an English winter evening, and a golden glow suffused the room as the fire caught and grew.
Lighting the tall tapers on the dinner table and watching the tiny flames reflect on porcelain and crystal only added to Jack’s feeling of comfort and safety, and he wondered why he never felt like this in his own home, however many candles he lit.
The pop of a cork from the direction of the kitchen held the answer. And it was obvious.
Gareth made the difference.
Jack could lean on him without being thought weak. He watched Jack’s back without having to be asked, and he provided reason when Jack was too tired to think straight. Gareth Flynn was someone Jack didn’t want to be without—and for whom he was even prepared to brave ghosts.
In fact, Gareth did for him what he was trying to do for Daniel and Nico. That was the simple sum of it.
“What’s so amusing?” Gareth crossed to the dining table, carrying a tray that held a tureen of soup and a bottle of sparkling wine in a chiller.
Jack hadn’t realized he was smiling. He didn’t feel like explaining his epiphany just yet. It seemed silly that he’d been too busy settling into his new job at Nancarrow Mining, getting used to working for his former CO once more, and helping Nico and Daniel, to notice what was right in front of his face. He waved his hand, encompassing the candlelit tree, the fire, the table dressed in gleaming white linen, fine porcelain, crystal, and sparkling silverware. And more intangible things like warmth, the sense of being wanted, and the inviting aromas of Gareth’s cooking.
“This,” he said after a moment. “You. Christmas.” He stepped around the table and wound his arms around Gareth’s neck, pressing close. “I don’t do Christmas,” he said softly, brushing his lips over Gareth’s in a barely there caress. “Never have. I always used to work. And nobody’s ever….”
Gareth dotted a quick kiss on Jack’s forehead. “Which is exactly why I do it, of course,” he quipped. “Workaholics like you need a civilizing influence. And you like my cooking.” He pried Jack’s arms from his neck and turned him around. “Now sit down before the soup’s cold and the fizz goes flat!”
Jack complied without a word, happy in his anticipation of a spectacular dinner. He didn’t even bother to check his smile.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***
Jack and Gareth have been living together for nearly three months, while trying to navigate the change in their relationship, helping Nico and Daniel heal and dealing with Jack's ghosts.
I love Gareth. He's such a strong, supportive and patient character. Always knowing what Jack needs before Jack realizes that he needs it and nudging him towards the path he wanted to take. Jack was also strong, but in a different way, he had to go through so many things, but I loved that he managed to open himself enough to learn to trust others. Perhaps as a couple they needed a bit more communication to avoid a few stumbles here and there, but overall, they worked great together.
The Nico and Daniel storyline and how it overlapped with what happened to Jack, continued to break my heart. Although it was an easier read than Job Hunt there was enough information to make me feel so bad for all of them, especially with what we learned about Daniel's parents in this book.
All in all, this was a very good sequel to Job Hunt, tying some loose ends and giving a satisfying ending to the series. Also, I have to say that all the detailed scenes with Garreth cooking made me very hungry! It sounded delicious!
Rating: 4.5 Stars!!!
OTHER BOOKS IN THE POWER OF ZERO SERIES...
JOB HUNT by Jackie Keswick
Publication Date: May 13, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, M/M, Romance, Suspense
BUY: Amazon • Amazon PRINT • B&N • KOBO • iBooks • ARe • Dreamspinner Press
Synopsis: You don’t greet your new boss dressed like an underage rent boy. But when Jack Horwood—ace hacker and ex-MI6 operative—opens the door to Gareth Flynn, he's too busy to worry over details like that. And anyway, his potential new boss is his former Commanding Officer – the same guy Jack has had a crush on since he was seventeen. So he should understand, right?
Walking away is not an option. Jack never takes the easy way out. More than that, meeting Gareth raises old ghosts that Jack needs to put to rest. Rescuing kids. Taking risks. Saving the day. Jack can do all that – but deciding what to do about his attraction to Gareth isn’t the sort of cloak-and-dagger game Jack plays well. Yet Gareth, strong and smart and always on hand when needed, might be Jack’s salvation.
EXCERPT: Easy Morning
Jack hadn’t minded at all, when he woke, to find himself draped over his bed partner as if Gareth were an extra pillow. Neither did he see a reason to change his position. His nose was buried in Gareth’s neck, his arm clasped Gareth’s waist, and their legs tangled in ways Jack found pleasantly suggestive. He rested quietly, breathing as softly and evenly as he knew how, and enjoyed the moment.
There was a hint of roughness to Gareth’s jaw, and despite the previous night’s shower, Gareth’s skin held a trace of scent that Jack found irresistible. If asked to define it, he’d call it spicy, even though that didn’t quite do it justice. It was a dark, rich scent, more alluring than cinnamon and chili spiced chocolate, but somehow containing both these flavors, along with a bitter edge and something that reminded him of well-worn leather. Jack preferred clean citrus notes for everyday wear, but his stomach muscles clenched every time he caught a hint of that dark spice. He turned his head just slightly and nuzzled his way deeper into the silver hair, for once content to lie in bed and dream.
He was so lost in quiet bliss that he disregarded the warning signs: the soft slide of a foot along his calf, the tensing of the muscles in Gareth’s abdomen, and the hand that suddenly cupped the back of his head. So when he found himself flipped over and pinned to the bed with Gareth’s face above his own, he could do little more than gape.
“You sure have the patience of a saint,” Gareth huffed. “How long were you going to pretend that you were asleep?”
“I wasn’t pretending,” Jack protested. “Just enjoying myself.”
He stretched, testing Gareth’s hold. It was firm but not really restrictive. He could get away if he needed to. That realization soothed the small spike of panic in his chest and turned it into a well of heat. He let a teasing smile curl the corners of his mouth, and he stretched again, more deliberately this time, brushing skin against skin. “I couldn’t make a move, anyway,” he announced on the heels of Gareth’s soft gasp at the contact. “I promised I wouldn’t jump you.”
“See, I would never promise something as stupid as that,” Gareth rumbled before he leaned in to brush their lips together.
“Good for you,” Jack whispered back and concentrated on tracing Gareth’s lips with the tip of his tongue until Gareth pressed in more firmly.
Their kiss was like the entree to an exquisite meal: sweet, promising, and with just enough fire to whet the appetite. Jack soon wanted more. He buried one hand in Gareth’s hair and slid the other across Gareth’s broad back until he felt the muscles shift under warm skin as Gareth moved. Teeth clashed, and tongues tangled as both grew more serious, and Jack didn’t give a damn when a deep moan escaped his throat. Gareth deserved some credit. He’d managed to turn him on to an almost painful degree in no time flat. With barely more than a kiss.
Jack arched up to bring their bodies firmly together and felt Gareth’s arousal press into his hip. Glad for the assurance that this was a two-way street, he shifted and pushed up, rolling them over, thrilled to hear Gareth growl at the sudden separation of their mouths. His teeth grazed a trail along Gareth’s jaw and down his neck.
Gareth gasped and squirmed but didn’t try to get away from Jack’s ministrations. His hands found skin, slipped to Jack’s ass, and pulled him down. Hard. Heat flared through Jack, and he retaliated by nipping on Gareth’s collarbone before moving his attentions to the hollow of Gareth’s throat. Gareth’s fingers painted trails of fire on his skin, and every time he caught a whiff of that dark, spicy scent, something like an electric shock spiked through him.
He raised his head and went for Gareth’s lips again, adding teeth and fire and clear intent. The kiss turned messy, Gareth’s hand tangled in his hair, and Jack was on the verge of losing his train of thought when Tohoshinki’s “I Think U Know” interrupted their heated exchange.
Jack froze. Then he swore. Then he bent over the side of the bed to fish his phone from his trouser pocket, swearing some more when he came up empty on the first couple of tries. Finally he flipped the phone open and answered.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie in exchange for a fair and honest review.***
Jack hasn't seen Garreth in a long time until Gareth interrupts Jack's job interview. Garreth was Jack's CO and he's been in love with the older man since he was 17. Still, with all the things going on in Jack's life, the first thing that he does is reject the job he wanted, because he's not sure how to cope with seeing Gareth after so long, especially with what happened to make Jack resign.
The one thing Jack can't walk away, though, is when his detective friend asks him to help him with an ongoing investigation involving abused children and their pimp, this hits very close to home and if he's good at anything is at transforming himself.
As Garreth and Jack grow closer, they have to deal with many things that might put a damper on their relationship.
Garreth was amazing, such a wonderful man, even if at times I wanted to make him be a bit less patient. Same as I wished Jack wasn't so immature, but I guess it was kind of understandable considering all he'd gone through as a child. Still, while I wanted to strangle Jack at times for being so reckless, I had to commend him for being so strong. He was fighting his own ghosts at the same time he was trying to catch the man who'd done so much damage to Daniel, Nico and Ricky.
This book is filled with action, angst, some romance and a great cast of characters, both main and supporting that really help make this story even deeper and better than it would've been otherwise. While I'm not a fan of multiple POVs, in this case, it worked perfectly.
All in all, a very good read! Very recommendable!
Rating: 4.5 Stars!!!
ABOUT JACKIE KESWICK
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist’s butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.