Author: JM Dabney
Publisher: Hostile Whispers Press
Publication date: August 29, 2017
Length: 150 pages
Reviewed by Meredith
Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his way to change shit now.
Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everywhere in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for awhile just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.
In Joker, which is book two in JM Dabney's Executioners Series, we find out his story. You saw him in Ghost, book one, and you know your imagination was getting the better of you. You KNEW there was a story and you KNEW it was going to break your heart.
I won't tell it to you but it is bad. When you're bred from hate, birthed into darkness, and know you're alive simply because you can feel the pain, and still come through the other side, you're rare. You're special. That's Joker. He wears his story on his skin. Not tattoos but scars. There are many and each holds a torturous memory for him. Love is not something Joker thinks he's capable or maybe even worthy of. But then, he never met a guy like Dem before.
It takes an extraordinary person to thaw a soul made of ice. Dem has his own past. He's lived through judgment due to his physical disability. He too longs for love but in his heart, he knows he's worthy of it. And he knows Joker is too.
I really loved this story because, as painful as it was, their pasts have made them into survivors. They are not victims. No. Each is forced to embrace what has been done and now have to learn to love.
It's hard read in places but it's well worth your time and all the tissues!
The crowd parted when they saw him coming. Twitch noticed him and removed the reserved sign from in front of the stool next to the wall where he could push his back to the wall. He took his usual post, and Dem settled onto the stool beside him. His knees pushed against Dem’s hip and thigh.
“Joker, want your usual,” Twitch asked.
Twitch was small and feminine, he had this energy that was infectious. Twitch always wanted everyone around him happy. It must’ve been a busy night already because Twitch had his long black hair twisted up into a messy bun.
“What can I get for your friend?” Twitch attempted to hide his curiosity but failed.
The boy was nosy as fuck, and he was also a matchmaker. Shit, he made himself a target, just what he didn’t need.
“Hi, Twitch, I’m Dem, could I just get a water please?”
“Sure thing, Dem.”
This wasn’t the place for intimate conversation, the music too loud, and a tension of unleashed violence thick in the packed room.
Dem turned to him and leaned in, he stood his ground and didn’t flinch away. Warm breath fanned his jaw, then his ear.
“Just because you brought me to a bar doesn’t mean we can’t talk. It only makes it where we have to get closer. Don’t think I’m not onto you, Jackson.”
His muttered curse earned him a chuckle from Dem. The man straightened as their drinks arrived.
“You’re so cute together,” Twitch squealed and did a little hip wiggle.
“Thank you, Twitch. Has he always been so stubborn?”
“You have no idea, he’s a nightmare, but some great and plentiful sex should loosen him up a bit,” Twitch said and winked. “Okay, back to work, holler when you need a refill.”
“I like him.”
“Yeah, I know that, and he’s not my type, Jackson.”
“I gotta take a piss,” he announced and surged off the bar stool. He headed for the hallway that led to the bathrooms.
He needed a minute to himself, the close-quarter conversation hadn’t been in the plan. The music and all was supposed to make talking impossible, but he should’ve known better. Hadn’t he watched his friends over the years, the way they’d get close, whisper in each other’s ears, and exchange kisses between sentences, sometimes words?
He ducked into the women’s room knowing it would be empty and leaned his back against the door. The music muffled on the other side.
“Why are you hiding in the women’s room?”
His eyes flew open, and he found a grinning Hunter seated on the bathroom sink. Hunter was married to Wren and also Linus. How did they keep each other happy? How weren’t they jealous? Something in his gut told him if he had a man of his own that he’d be jealous—possessive of the man he considered his.
“Why are you?”
“I come in here for my breaks, Twitch does too, but normally he isn’t alone.”
“I fucked up, man.”
“And how is that? Start a brawl already? I’ve only been in here ten minutes, so you couldn’t have done too much damage.”
“No, I brought a guy here.”
“Please tell me this isn’t the first fucking date, Joker?” Hunter waved his hands in the air. “Don’t even answer that, it is. You know a first date should be in a restaurant, where y’all can talk and get to know each other.”
“This was supposed to scare him off so he’d give up on this dating me thing.”
Hunter threw his back and laughed his ass off at him.
“What the fuck is so funny?”
“You, Joker, come on, the man wants to date you after meeting you and your charming personality. Wren said he threatened you not to kill Dem.”
“How did you know it was Dem?”
“Everyone else in town knows you and are mostly frightened of you, it had to be a newbie.”
“But why me? Fuck, I hate this shit.”
“You just hate people liking you, even though your friends love your cranky ass.”
“I don’t know how to do this, you know—”
“I don’t know shit, Joker. I know you, you’re fiercely protective, like you are with Harper. I know most of the shit you get into is when some asshole thinks he can put his hands on a woman or someone weaker than them, different than them. You might not think so, but you’re a pretty great guy when you’re not trying to kill someone.”
“All this mushy talk is making me want to puke.”
“Then get back to your date. If what I hear is right, he’s pretty fucking hot. He’s probably got a ring around him at the bar right now.”
“Fuck.” He stormed out of the bathroom and down the hall. He hated when other people were right. It wasn’t a ring, but it was enough.
Some pretty boy in leathers was all up on Dem. The man’s hand on Dem’s lower back. He could almost hear the sweet talking going on. Maybe he should let it, Dem could go home—fuck no. He squared his shoulders and stretched to his full height of six-three. He wasn’t the most muscular man around, but it didn’t always take a bodybuilder frame to take a fucker down.
He walked over, stopped behind Dem, and took the stranger’s wrist in a steely grip.
“He gave you permission to touch him?”
“Jackson, I was just telling this gentleman my date would be right back.” Dem turned to him.
He didn’t take his glare off the pretty boy. He made himself not tense up when Dem’s arm went around his waist. He released the guy fast enough for the stranger to stumble a bit. Soft fingertips touched his jaw and turned his head to look at Dem. Dem was smiling at him, his long, wavy hair framed his face. He didn’t like the way that smile made him feel. He didn’t like any of it. It made him feel off; like he wasn’t himself.
“Jackson, don’t kill him.”
Then it happened, lips that were soft beyond belief touched his. He heard a pain-filled grunt, but he was too focused on his first kiss. A steel-band circled his chest. He jerked away.
“We have to go.”
Pity didn’t exist in the depths of Dem’s eyes. Dem’s lush mouth still curved into a content, almost sweet smile. He needed to get away—now.
About the Author
J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. She lives with a constant diverse cast of characters in her head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. she lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure she does them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and she makes sure her characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more she wants from telling her stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing
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