Ex-soldier Ryan Jones likes precisely two things—his kitchen and the music his father taught him to love. After spending too many years running from his past, he’s found something like peace. Working all day as a short-order cook in a dying town, then drinking himself to sleep at night isn't much of a life but he thinks it's all he needs, until the day he notices the kid. Lucas is quiet, barely twenty, sporting a shy smile beneath his frightened eyes, and bruises that Ryan can relate to all too well. Torn between wanting to help Lucas and simply wanting him, Ryan’s resolve to keep the kid at arm’s length slowly wears away. Until Lucas disappears. Ryan's not the sort of man to be anyone’s white knight. But as it turns out, what Ryan is capable of, is exactly what Lucas needs.
24k words You can find trigger warnings on my website. See the book page for a link.
After spending years creating stories in her head, Alex started writing them down and then found she couldn’t stop. Despite the late start, she now writes m/m romance about found families, sometimes with a historical feel—and the occasional werewolf. Free from aspirations of literary greatness, Alex simply hopes to spin a good yarn of love and life, wrapped up with a happy ending. And if her characters have to go through Hell to get there, she’s a-okay with that. Alex writes and walks on the South Coast of England—even when her heart and spellcheck are in New York.
You can now find her dark m/m romance under Alexis Jane if you like love…but darker.
Alex Jane has a new endeavor of shortish stories (novellas) that have a bit of a dark streak but are supposed to have the romance we expect in our m/m romantic books.
I think I might just be a bit messed up because the "dark" in this book didn't bother me at all as much as the conversation Ryan has with Owen at the end of the book about his romantic motivations. That seemed much darker to me and dimmed the relationship a lot.
But that aside, I was really quite surprised at how different the writing and storytelling style was to the Alpha's Homestead series that I love. Had she chosen to use a pseud for these books, I don't think I would have connected the two, they have that much different of a feel to them.
Strong authors are hard to find in a saturated market like m/m. Alex Jane is in that category. I look forward to her next book.
This is a really short book, but it definitely packs a punch.
Ryan is an ex-soldier, working in a diner in a small town, keeping to himself. He stays mostly in the kitchen, and when he's not working, he's in his camper behind the diner, keeping the nightmares at bay with alcohol.
Lucas is barely twenty, quiet and shy, a regular at the diner who's caught Ryan's eye - mostly because Ryan recognizes something in the young man, primarily in the haunted eyes and the bruises on his skin.
Both men are damaged, though not beyond repair. Their relationship builds slowly, so slowly, and trust doesn't come easy, but it comes.
The story is dark, by design, and rather angsty. The author cleverly peels back Ryan's layers one at a time, and it's not immediately clear why Ryan reacts so strongly to Lucas' plight.
The diner's owner knows of Ryan's back story, and she realizes that Lucas is in some danger, but both she and Ryan also know that they cannot step in unless Lucas asks for help. Which is why boss lady encourages Ryan to befriend Lucas to build a level of trust. She has another motive which is clear to both Ryan and this reader.
Initially, this book reads as a regular hurt/comfort kind of story, but then it takes a really dark turn with an unexpected twist. I was a bit surprised at Lucas' reaction, but I also understood that he might react that way. Yeah, I know this is vague. Deal with it by reading the book.
I didn't like the ending. Well, let me rephrase that - I liked that Ryan and Lucas got their HEA. What I didn't like is that Ryan thinks this thing (which I'm not going to spoil here), and it sounded as if that was his reason for proposing, and if that's the case, WTF?
I enjoyed this overall, even if the ending left me scratching my head a bit and definitely sort of ruined their HEA for me. YMMV.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **
For a short story, this was a good one. It had enough background to see how it shaped both MCs. There was plenty of angst to make me really feel both Ryan's and Lucas's pain. The relationship developed rather quickly, but both men bonded over past physical abuse and helped each other heal. The solution to the problem was rather anticlimactic. I hoped for a different outcome, but it was what it was. The book ended in HEA. It's told from single POV, it's well-written, and as a sample of author's work it made me want to see what else they have to offer. I recommend it.
I enjoyed Alex's 'darker' side, and was happy with the ending. Doesn't matter who the abuser is OR what their job entails, they deserve everything they get...and more. Thanks to Ryan and Marie, Lucas didn't have to dread going home anymore. Have to admit that I thought Owen was a little creepy...didn't like him at all. More darker stuff please dear Author!! 😁
This is a short story about a veteran named Ryan working as a diner cook, and the connection he makes to a younger customer named Lucas. Marie, the manager of the diner, is an important side character. Even though there is a 15 year age difference, we don't really get to feel that. These are two men who have a similar background and get each other in a way that only fellow survivors can. The story does revolve around abuse (not sexual) so be aware that is a major part of this story that spans three years, although most of it is concentrated on the first few months. We are a bit of a dispassionate observer for most of the story; the story is told to us and there is not much dialog. Since we are not in the characters' heads, it is easy to hold it at a distance and feel sympathy without becoming emotionally disturbed. Having said that, we don't feel attraction or love either.
I have read other works by this author and this is nothing like those. I liked this story and I don't know what it says about me that there were no surprises here. Everything in the story was a logical progression for me. I really don't know what to say without spoilers, so I will say it's well written. She does warn that this story is darker than her other work. It is a romance, and it does have a happy ending, but some might not find it so.
I really liked this. I was a little worried when the author described it as "darker" than her other books. Luckily, I am a bit morally skewed and the "darker" in this story wasn't anything that even blipped my radar. Lucas and Ryan were great characters and I thought their relationship was really lovely. Marie was an enjoyable side character.
The only negative I have is the conversation that Ryan and Owen have at the end of the book, or more accurately, the thoughts that Ryan has after the conversation. But! I can't help thinking that anyone in his place might have had the same thoughts. So it may just be that I don't like it when reality hits me in the face. The rest of the book was amazing, so I am just pretending like that paragraph or two never happened. ;)
Although the author warns readers that this is a "darker" romance, but IMHO, this is quite lovely story. Yes, Lucas suffers from domestic abuse, and yes, there is actually but their relationship falls on the hurt/comfort spectrum. I enjoyed Ryan and Lucas connecting over jazz music or cooking at the diner. I also liked the 15-years-age gap :)
I think I'm in the minority on this one. Everything felt so short and choppy. I truly feel that if this was fleshed out and made into a full length this could be incredible. Instead, things happen so fast and it was almost unbelievable. Maybe this is why I don't read short stories anymore? It started off so good and then the time jumps happened and that's where things got lost for me.
Alex Jane has a pattern with common elements like voyeurism, stalking, rough play and even gruesome murders. But each story feels unique and I look forward to the little surprises in between.
Ryan has watched Luke for a long time, before they started talking. He wants to protect Luke from the persistent abuse at home, but it takes time and Luke needs to make an effort to move forward. Ryan can only hope and watch from outside.
The Diner setting was lovely. I enjoyed the writing and the final build up.
Ryan is a 35-year-old ex-soldier, working as a short-order cook at a diner. He lives on a trailer parked just outside the diner and other than working, drinking himself to sleep and interacting with his boss, Marie, he doesn't do much else... until he notices the lonely kid who visits the diner every once in a while and recognizes some of the signs he lived through himself when he was a teenager. And while he fights it, there's not much he can do to stay away from Lucas.
Lucas and Ryan strike a tentative friendship, but when Lucas pushes for more and Ryan pushes him away and then Lucas disappears, Ryan will have to decide what it is that he wants the most.
No Regrets is a hurt/comfort May/December story. It was fast-paced, well-written and entertaining. The characters, both main and secondary, were well-developed and tridimensional, and I felt that I got to know them pretty well, despite the book's length. It's on the darker side, but really, you couldn't help but want Ryan to do what he did, so there's that. (How's that for vague? LOL) Anyway, I hope we'll get more novellas like this one by Ms. Jane.
*** Copy provided to the reviewer for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
This isn't dark in the strict sense of the word, but it does take a hard right turn into an area where you struggle with right and wrong and that quite surprised me! Ryan has been checking out Lucas when Lucas visits the diner where Ryan works. Over the course of time, it's apparent that something is not quite right with Lucas. Ryan tries to do the right thing, messes up and then things get very hairy with Lucas. So my issue with this book isn't necessarily the moral dilemma, per se. It's more that I didn't get enough of a relationship between Ryan and Lucas to make the whole moral dilemma thing believable. Great writing but the lack of substantive on page relationship development made this a little meh for me. We have this romance, then do some really awful stuff, then hearts and flowers ending. Though I do have a few of this author's books on my tbr, this is the first time I've read one. Very engaging writing, character-driven story (just needed more of it!), uneven sexy bits but what's there is good. Will definitely read more of this author's work in the hopes that I get a well rounded story...
Love with a dark side. What would you do for the one you love? I’m at a loss how to do justice to this short story of love and redemption. I couldn’t put it down to go to sleep until I knew the ending. Ryan and Lucas are two people who find each other at the point where they had almost given up with the way their life was going. Ryan drank himself to sleep most nights and Lucas is trapped with an abusive step father. They provide each other with a reason to carry on. Ryan hesitates to start anything because of the age gap, but not for long. He understands what Lucas is going through, having suffered abuse himself. The love blooms between them to the point that Ryan can’t deny he loves Lucas. Then the twist came that I didn’t anticipate at all. It might not suit everyone but I couldn’t help but empathise with their actions in that situation. This fast paced story kept me hooked. Protecting the one you love what ever it takes. If you liked Gazes into You, (Mr &Mr Detective #1) you will like this darker story by this Author.
It is a bitter-sweet M/M love story. I got sucked into Ryan's world right from the first page. It is a really good story with believable and likable characters. Even though I am a sucker for hurt/comfort books, this one is different than anything I've ever read - this dark part is connected with (hopefully) "unpopular" way of solving problems. Ryan and Lucas' story is not for everyone and I have to say that was NOT what I had expected, but in the same time can I really blame Ryan for protecting a guy he loved? This is not Your typical easy story that we all forget right after finishing it. There is A LOT of pain, abusive stepfathers, drinking problems, dark secrets, lies, but in the same time it is a story about friendship, helping others and protecting people we love.
There is almost no sex and somehow it made everything better, especially with a huge age gap between Ryan and Lucas and how much Lucas needed a "friend". I just wish the story was longer.
“Sweet” guys in an evil situation, M/M love story… Ryan has a past: Army Ranger, angry, abused, happy in his loneliness and gay. At 35yo he came out of the Army with nothing and nowhere to go. The bus let him off in front of a diner and he got a job, a place to live and a life that was good enough. Until one day a young kid came into the diner wrapped in a coat way too heavy for the weather. This happened over-and-over, day-after-day and Ryan began to get feelings for this stranger, Lucas. One tragic day everything comes to a head and Ryan and Lucas must decide what comes next. This was a very powerful story, well-written and poignant. It will give you warm fuzzies on one page and then, a few pages later, you’ll want to break something. Only one explicit M/M scene. Highly recommended. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book. If you enjoy this book, you’ll also like GAZES INTO YOU (A MR & MR DETECTIVE STORY) by Ms. Jane.
🍳 A short order cook meets his match!🍔 July 14, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition 👍A solid, well-written, out of the ordinary 👬 MM romance between former military man Ryan and college student Lucas. I was definitely surprised by the major plot twists related to Lucas' and Ryan's stepfathers. Ryan hinted to Lucas, the fragile young man he is falling for, that he has hidden depths but I really had no idea!😱
This story reads quickly but it does spend time building the couple's relationship. I really appreciated that extra care taken to build a supportive emotional connection before advancing to the 🔥heat, which when it comes is brief and not particularly graphic. Ryan, older than Lucas by well over a decade, is responsibly cautious about not taking advantage of Lucas.
Abuse issues recur throughout the story and there is some violence, but it's never gratuitous.
I read a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest review.
No Regrets is described as love but darker. As I started reading I thought it’s not all that dark but then boom. The dark appears. In some ways it felt like it was creeping up slowly always there under the surface. But I still wasn’t really expecting it so I was hit full frontal with a wow moment. And the way Alex had already gotten me totally in love with MCs Lucas and Ryan I was in full and total support of the wow moment. I absolutely adore Alex’s writing. It pulls you in from the very first page and keeps you gripped. I never want an Alex book to end. And although it has a darker turn No Regrets really is about love. It’s about how love can provide peace, protection, purpose and escape from the past and how in extreme circumstances you’ll do anything to protect those you love. This was a short novella but that didn’t stop it from packing a punch! Loved it.
A bit of darkness but just enough to keep it interesting. Great characters, easily liked and very easy to gain your loyalties. Justice served up always leaves a good taste and this one certainly did. Bullies are not okay, abuse is never to be tolerated and sometimes the right course of action is frowned upon yet when it’s fictional it just may be alright. This story takes the darkness and turns it to a brilliant light and delivers the sweetest HEA imaginable. I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book.
I’m not a fan of novellas, because I’m greedy and want MORE! However, this author is on my auto buy list, for good reasons. This book has angst, a tiny bit of darkness, and a great plot with a big twist. Lucas and Ryan are both damaged people who find solace in the other. Slowly, very slowly, they build their relationship and find a home in the other. A very quick read, I would really love to see more of this couple! Definitely recommend this book.
This is one of those stories that are sad and dark, and you’re waiting for that light of hope and when it comes is sweet and delicate and everything feels OK. I love the characters, the decisions that they took were tough there isn’t right or wrong, just survive. I really enjoyed this book, I’ll read the others books of this author.
I just loved this book...I loved all the characters....the plot.. And it was just an all around love story... The MC'S were made for each other and it just came off the page... This is my first book by this author.... It will not be my last!