Monday, July 11, 2016

Release Day Review ~ Son of Money by Brandon Witt ~ (Review + Excerpt)

Release Day Review ~ Son of Money by Brandon Witt ~ (Review + Excerpt)

Title: Son of Money
Author: Brandon Witt
Release Date Jul 11, 2016
Type Novels
Words 94,640
Pages 284



Randall Morgan, youngest son of one of Seattle’s wealthiest families, rejected his family’s money to live free of their control and pursue his career as a photographer. To make ends meet, Randall does erotic photography and massage—a secret he keeps from his family so he can remain a part of his young niece’s life. But the price of that relationship is high, and Randall is once more slipping under his family’s thumb.

Noah Carroll is the spokesperson for the Seattle Humane Society, and the city holds a special place in his heart. When fate intervenes during a pet adoption, Noah finds himself face-to-face with his first love—Randall.

While Noah and Randall are not the teenagers they once were, the flame of a first kiss long ago draws them together. Their romance is beginning to grow, but someone is out to destroy Randall and expose all he keeps hidden.

When secrets and rumors thrust Randall into the public eye, his relationship with Noah isn’t the only thing that comes under threat.

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MY FATHER’S yacht gleamed like a beacon through the blanket of mist over Lake Washington. I’d forgotten about the recent upgrade. Every few years, a newer model came to rest at our family’s personal dock. They were indistinguishable to me—each one appliance-white, each with Morgana in sweeping scarlet letters across the helm, each a little bit bigger than its predecessor. I thought this one was the replacement. Who knew, really? You see one white yacht, you’ve seen them all.

Just looking at the boat inspired revulsion. The shores of Mercer Island were nearly magical, especially with the afternoon sun shimmering over the ripples of the water lapping at the rocks. It wouldn’t seem out of place for a unicorn to step through the mist and dip its head for a drink. It was the perfect setting for me to pull out my camera in an attempt to capture the wonder of it all. Maybe if there were an old canoe from the Duwamish tied up in Morgana’s place…. Even a tugboat. Something with personality. My father’s yacht held no wonder. No mystery. Despite its Arthurian moniker, it just said some rich white guy bought another boat to park at the base of his mansion nestled back in the trees. No reason to pull out the camera for that.

Repositioning myself on the jetty, I looked toward the other shore. I knew boats were there too, even though far enough away to be hidden by the fog.

There. There was mystery. The wonder. No unicorn, but three Canada geese glided through the water, one of them ducking under every so often, seeming to wave its feathered ass at me. A heron, perched on a protruding branch, watched both the geese and me. Yeah. He was a bit of magic.

Despite the mansions, the yachts, and the massive bridge in the distance, this was my favorite place, always had been. The old, refurbished, square-brick boiler room at my back, its tall chimney jutting up to the sky like a makeshift castle. The middle jetty of three shooting out from the dock. Being suspended a few feet over the water, which spread out around me, and bordered by lush Northwest forests—if they could still be called forests when mansions and yachts replaced the unicorns and native tribes.

Regardless of my father’s ever-changing watercraft, I was the only one of my family to take refuge on the water. On this wooden jetty, there were no expectations from the waterfowl, the rocky shores, or the moss-laden trees. Only silence, at least during the good times when other people weren’t infringing on my sacred space. It didn’t matter that I was Randall Franklin Morgan, nor that I was the son of Vincent James Morgan. Here, there was only the lapping waves, the chirping insects, and the creaking wooden planks settling.

“DARLING, YOU have something on the seat of your pants. Here, stand still.” Without waiting, my mother swatted at my backside with a few flicks of her hand. She narrowed her eyes at the offending particles that fell to the kitchen floor, then let out a long-suffering sigh. “That explains why you were late. Mooning about on the lake. I swear you ruin all your clothes by sitting on that old wood.” She turned from me, raising her voice as she called out over her shoulder, “Pearl, could you please clean this up? Randall made a mess.”

Pearl glanced up, pausing with the cutting board full of chopped onions suspended over a pot. Her flash of irritation was barely discernable and instantly veiled by a subservient nod. “Yes, madam.”

“Mom, let me get it. No need to bother Pearl.”

I bent to pick up the small wood particles, but she caught my elbow and slinked her arm through mine. “Nonsense. Pearl doesn’t mind. That’s what she’s here for.”

I tried to offer Pearl an apologetic grin, but she didn’t look at me as Mom ushered me from the kitchen.

Mom leaned toward me as we stepped into the great room, whispering loud enough to be heard across the room, “Of course, you’re not nearly as late as your sister-in-law. I’m not sure how she can live next door and still never manage to show up to anything on time.”

My brother looked over at us from where he stood with my father at the massive stone fireplace. He took another tug from his Cuban cigar, held it in, and then exhaled before he responded. “Kayla won’t let the maid help get Bailey ready. She insists on doing it herself.” Dustin gave our father a conspiratorial shrug. “Of course, by the time she spends hours on her hair and makeup and picking out which jewelry to wear, it’s time to go, and she hasn’t even gotten Bailey’s clothes yet.”

I tried to keep my tone neutral. “Couldn’t you get her ready while Kayla finishes?”

His eyebrows knitted together, making him and our father look like twins separated by three decades. They both stared at me like I was a different species. “That’s what the maid is for.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter tonight,” Mom cut in before Dustin and I could start bickering like we were twelve instead forty-four and thirty-five. “We don’t have any guests, and Pearl seems to be in slow motion, so dinner will probably be as late as your wife and daughter.” She sat on the closest sofa and motioned for me to sit on the opposite one. She looked up at my dad, her newly Botoxed skin pulling tight over her jaw. “And what are you two planning? Another takeover, or are we talking cars this evening?”

Dad spared Mom a glance and an indulgent but brief smile. “Neither. It seems there’s another petition from the airlines to change their flight patterns.”

A long, agonized groan issued from my mom, so dramatic that anyone not from the island would have thought it fake. Every few years the issue came up and everyone girded their loins for yet another round of fighting. “It’s an attack. I promise you. This should be settled. It’s infringement. We were here first. It’s our way of life they’re threatening. As if any of us will be able to think with planes zooming this way and that over our heads. And what if they crash?”

Another look passed between my father and brother—wives could be so obtuse at times. Dad sighed and gave Mom another quick glance. “The likelihood of planes crashing above us is low, dear. It’s more an issue of noise pollution. Property values will plummet. The quality of life will be impacted.”

“Well, whatever the reason, the issue needs to be over. We don’t need planes flying over our island. We’ve already settled this several times.”

“That’s true, dear. Looks like we must fight once again.”

“And we will defeat them again.” My brother brandished his cigar like a sword. “By wit, money, and—”

The doorbell rang.

Dustin glared toward the entryway.

I rose from the sofa. Before I could make it to the end of the oriental rug, Pearl walked past the double doors of the great room, wiping her hands on her apron.

“I’ve got it, Pearl. No need to—”

“Randall, stop that nonsense,” Mom called out from her reclined position. “Let the woman do what we pay her to do.”

I halted where I stood and took a breath, picturing what the sunset must look like at the moment from my little dock.

Though Pearl’s opening and closing of the front door was silent, the clicking of Kayla’s high heels across the marble floor was not. The clomping got louder as she drew closer until she rounded the corner and stepped onto the plush carpet of the great room. She’d dressed for the occasion, as had we all, but she would’ve managed to halt every movement in the room if there were more than our family. She was movie-star beautiful. Younger than me. Much younger than my brother. Killer Pilates body, with a topping of silicone breasts and platinum-blonde hair spilling over her shoulders, and looking like Jayne Mansfield reincarnate.

“Sorry we’re late, everyone. Bailey and I couldn’t decide which shoes would look best with her dress.”

My seven-year-old niece, as beautiful as her mother, stuck out a ballet-slippered foot from beneath her pink dress, a proud grin causing her cheeks to glow.

I lowered myself to one knee. “Looks like the perfect choice to me, Bailey.”

Her grin widened, and she released her mother’s hand as she moved toward me. She made it a step or two before she skipped and started to run.

“Bailey!” My father’s voice cut through the room, freezing Bailey mere inches from me and erasing her joyful smile. My father didn’t need to say anything else. The message was clear. To both of us. Get control.

Dustin spoke up, mimicking our father’s tone. “Kayla, why don’t you take Bailey—”

“How’s my girl?” I swept Bailey up into my arms and cut off my brother before he could lecture my sister-in-law on how she should have better control of their daughter, or make Bailey sit in time-out in the other room.

Bailey gave me a tentative grin but didn’t say anything, quickly refocusing on her father. Without waiting or looking at Dustin, lest he think it a challenge, I carried Bailey to the sofas and took a seat beside Mom. “Here, show Grandma and me these shoes you picked out.”

Playing her part perfectly, Mom grabbed one of Bailey’s feet, lifted it into the air, and ran her finger over the pink silk shoe, making Bailey smile once more.

Tension filled the room for a moment longer until Dustin, obviously deciding the battle wasn’t worth his time, returned his attention to our father and renewed the subject of flight patterns.

Kayla took a seat next to me, giving my knee a squeeze in thanks as she addressed my mom. “I am sorry we’re late, Maureen. Time got away from me.”

Mom gave her a pointed smile. “Well, if you’d let the maid help you like Dustin suggests, you wouldn’t have to take the time.”

Kayla’s breathy voice was barely audible as she tried to speak without my brother hearing. “Oh, but I can’t. Soon Bailey will be old enough that she won’t want me helping her pick out clothes. I don’t want to miss these years. I’m sure you understand.”

My mother gave her another look, and I nearly laughed but caught myself. She definitely didn’t understand. The maid had dressed me, and by the time I got to the age I wanted to pick out my own clothes, that hadn’t been allowed.

Kayla realized her mistake, though how she continued to misstep after eight years in the family was a mystery. And one of the reasons I loved her. “Well, if you had girls, I’m sure you’d have been the same way. But raising boys. Very different.”

I jumped in before Kayla could dig herself any deeper. “Well, you both look wonderful.” I bumped my forehead against Bailey’s. “Maybe after dinner you can come down to the dock with me. I’ll carry you on my shoulders so we don’t get your shoes dirty. Sound good?”

Bailey nodded, but before she could respond, my mother drew in a quick breath, cutting off all conversation in the room. She reached across Bailey and me and moved her hand toward Kayla’s face, but pulled back before making contact. “What did you do?”

It took me a second to realize what she meant, but Kayla understood instantly; she lifted her right hand and pulled at a strand of hair behind her ear. I couldn’t believe I’d missed it. I’d been too focused on Bailey. “I got it done today.”

Oh dear Lord. I wished she’d called and asked her gay brother-in-law’s opinion. Not that I thought the cotton-candy-pink lock of hair looked bad. It was great, actually. She could have passed for one of the Barbie dolls with hair that changed color. But at the very least, I could have helped her make sure this was a battle she wanted to take on with her mother-in-law.

Her voice trembled slightly. “You don’t like it?”

Mom managed to uncurl her lips before speaking. “You’ll need to get that fixed tomorrow.”

“Oh.” Kayla clutched the strand of hair tighter.

Dustin spoke up, his voice firm as he addressed my mother in a way he wouldn’t have spoken to his own. “Maureen, Kayla does not need to change her hair. All of the actresses and young women are dying their hair bold colors now.”

Dad cleared his throat. “It needs to get fixed,” he said in that tone—the one that made my favorite spot seem not nearly far enough away. He didn’t look at Kayla, but kept his eyes trained on Dustin, leaving no room for challenge. “Your wife is not an actress or in a sorority house. We are Morgans. Kayla is a Morgan.”

There was no other explanation offered or needed.

Dustin didn’t hesitate. He turned his hard gaze on his wife. “Fix it tomorrow.”

4 Stars

*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This was my first book by Brandon Witt, and it was a really enjoyable read. I adored Noah and Randall. They had a great chemistry and fit together so well. Although the story is sort of instalove, because they knew one another as teens, it works. Randall and Noah were such likable characters, as were their four-legged friends. I wanted to cuddle Harper, Andy and Ron they were just so cute!!

The story is well written and has a great premise. It mostly flows well, but I think it could have been tightened up a bit. This was an emotionally draining book to read at times. I actually had to set it down and walk away for a while, because my stomach was in such knots. I just didn't know how much more Randall could take. I also wasn't sure how much more I could take! The mystery portion of the story is well written and kept me guessing as to who the anonymous blogger was, until the big reveal.

This was a great book loaded with angst, romance, sexiness, friendship, love and of course those cute puppies!! Highly recommended!

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