Special thanks to Leontine from Leontine's Book Realm for the super header.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Raven's Mark by Jade Archer

Title: Raven's Mark (Sandpipers #2)
Author: Jade Archer
Length: 198 pages
Publisher: Total-e-Bound

Blurb: Sometimes the strength to fight the past lies in the love and friendship of the present.

Mark Carter has taken care of himself and those around him since he was a teenager. But with his younger brother and sister now packed off to college, he finds himself suddenly alone. Throwing everything he has into his new position at Sandpipers Restaurant leaves little time for anything else. And that’s just fine by Mark. Then Raven stumbles into his life and everything changes. Mark can’t help wanting to know more about the mysterious man. Which is easier said than done. Raven is painfully shy, a single parent and stutters, especially when he’s nervous. But Mark is determined to get to know the warm, intelligent man he glimpses beneath the quiet exterior. The question is, will Raven let him?

Raven finally has a chance to start again. He’s determined to put the past behind him and do whatever it takes to create a normal life for his young son, Ryan. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. He doesn’t have much acquaintance with ‘normal’, and the past has a way on intruding on the present no matter how hard he tries to escape it. Can he trust Mark with his secrets? And more importantly, should he?

Review:  I was lucky enough to have one the first book in this series which is m/m/m and the story of Lark, Zak and Brody who run the Sandpipers Restaurant. This book sort of overlaps the end. Raven is the single parent of one of Brody's little brother's preschool friends. The three have kind of taken Raven under their wing, but he's extremely skittish, has a stutter and panic attacks, however he's starting fresh with his son. Mark is the new head chef who is instantly fascinated by Raven. Mark raised his own twin siblings when his parents died, so he has no problem with the kid issue, nor does he care about Raven's PTSD or stuttering. They start out slow and things are going well until Raven has a bad panic attack and pushes Mark away. They finally get back on track and Raven's ex (mother of Ryan) shows up to case more mayhem, and Raven pushes Mark away. 

While that might seem like eye roll worthy, it didn't come across that way. Raven has been beaten down (in all senses) and his reactions were understandable. Luckily pushy Lark was there to help them work it out most of the time. What was also nice is that while at first Mark comes across as Mr. Perfect and in control, he's not quite so perfect. He's got OCD type control issues and later when confronted, maybe has a bit of a saviour complex as well. So while he's not in as rough shape as Raven, he's not so perfect as to make him annoying.

Also so many times I wanted to slap my hand over Mark's mouth and just tell him to shut up. LOL He assumes Raven has been abused based on his behaviour, and yet the first time he sees burn scars on his chest he goes (paraphrasing) "OMG, What happened?" Right, like the guy is just going to open up now. So again, it was kind of nice to see him screw up and not be Raven's saviour. In the end Raven had to stand up for his son and do the right thing, with the support of his friends. 

I also appreciated that this was not a magical healing dick story. It took weeks and weeks before they even kissed and having sex did not make it all better, in fact it made it worse for a time. The epilogue is many months later and Raven is starting therapy for his issue and while he's better, he's still got a stutter and he still has PTSD issues, so I like when that kind of realism is there. Nothing worse than having disability disappear so that both heroes can be "perfect". I really enjoy this story and there were a few emotional moments, but some cute ones as well. I was happy to see the guys get their HEA even if it wasn't "normal".

There appears to be a set-up for a third story with Dave and Andy, kitchen workers assumed to be friends, when one of them quits suddenly at the end. My only concern, is that they kept making reference to both of them flirting with Jaime, a waitress so, nothing personal author, I just hope there aren't any lady bits involved in their story. LOL Call me a purist, all dick, all the time. :-)


Chris said...

I really liked Raven's Mark, too, for all the reasons you list! :)

Yeah, I have the definite fear of some sort of f in the mm for the next book in the series...

Tam said...

Yeah, I'm hoping it was a red herring to keep us guessing and that Jaime is really a lesbian. LOL

Janna said...

"magical healing dick story" *g* nicely phrased!
I'm glad it's not one of those stories.

I remember Lis recommending the first book to me. Need to find it and start reading.

Jenre said...

I was going to get the first book in this series and totally forgot. You've reminded me I wanted to read it and now I want to read this too!

I usually steer clear of stories with kids in but this sounds good so I should make an exception to that rule.

Great review, Tam.

Tam said...

The first one is also very good Janna. Definitely worth a read.

The kids play a minor role in this until one small incident at the end, but they are often the catalyst for Raven being at the restaurant to babysit Wolf. There's not a lot of interacting with them and they seemed very age appropriate for 5 year olds. They certainly don't overwhelm the story and I think it wouldn't have worked quite as well without Raven having a son that forced him to confront his mental health issues.