Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jaded by EM Lynley

Title: Jaded (Precious Gems #3)
Author: EM Lynley
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Genre: contemporary, thriller/mystery
Length: 250 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print


Gay-romance writer Trent Copeland finds his life in a rut while his boyfriend, Special Agent Reed Acton, is away on an undercover mission. After attending a special course at FBI headquarters in Quantico, Trent’s eager for another challenge. He jumps at the opportunity for a trip to Japan to oversee appraisals of two art collections to be sold at the gallery he co-owns. But the trip isn’t all cherry blossoms and Hello Kitty. When one of the collectors he meets—rumored to be the head of a Yakuza gang—turns up dead, Trent is accused of the murder and thrown in jail.

Reed drops everything to help find out who really committed the crime. He's in unknown territory in Japan, forced to navigate Tokyo’s sex underworld to unravel the truth and save Trent. He poses as a “host” at a seedy late-night club. When Reed’s undercover activities place him at a ruthless Yakuza leader’s sex party, he must be willing to go to any lengths to secure Trent’s safety and freedom. But trusting the wrong people brings both Reed and Trent to the Yakuza leader’s attention. If they’re ever to have a happy ever after, they’ll first have to call on every skill just to stay alive.


Regulars here know EM Lynley gets to the top of my TBR pile frequently: she’s clever, she’s consistent, and she tells a good tale in a variety of settings. So getting a third installment of a series where I enjoyed the first two made me very happy. Trent the romance novelist and inadvertent agent, and his lover Reed the Secret Agent are back for more adventure and a deepening of their relationship.

Trent’s found, or placed, himself neck deep in two of Reed’s missions in the other two books, and is likely to do it again, they fear. Both of them figure he’ll survive much better with some actual skills rather than dumb luck. He’s not silly enough to think that one course at Quantico will make him Reed’s equal in the field, but he’s much better prepared to cope.

Getting left behind while Reed goes undercover is an all-too-regular event. Trent’s filling the gap with renewed interest in the art gallery where he’s silent partner, and an art-buying trip to Japan with his fluent BFF sounds like a great way not to mope. Given that Trent is a trouble magnet, of course the clients are yakuza, something is fishy, and it ain’t the sushi.

The art-buying trip (fiasco) moves fast and pulls Trent ever deeper into the mire. Reed’s there in a flash, desperate to do what it takes to exonerate Trent, since the legal system is less interested in guilt than a quick solution. His own undercover operation has a peck of trouble for him in the form of a very sexy agent who knows the lay of the land, and isn’t above using the lay of Reed to solve the case. The adventure aspect of this book is nail biting material.

The relationship between Reed and Trent isn’t fully solidified after two years. They’ve been apart too much and can share too little to feel totally confident with each other, and they misread more than one situation. Even so, I was a little perplexed by Reed’s reaction to Shindo because even if he’d be noticing on his own time, this is business, and business with Trent’s well being at stake to boot. The complications provided by their undercover roles still made sense, though some of Reed’s reactions at other times made me want to smack him and redirect him, because YAKUZA.

Both men come to a greater understanding of what the other one faces in their relationship, whether it’s professional or personal, and I enjoyed coming along for the ride. Trent’s insights and observations and Reed’s craft are both needed to resolve the mystery, even if solving it takes a toll on them privately.

The author knows Japan from personal experience, which shows in the detailed setting and vivid sensory experience. Little details like which type of indoor shoes to wear and tiny fish for breakfast bring the adventure alive. Lovely. This is third in the series, and the author has done a great job of making it stand alone, so if you're starting here you won't be lost, but Rarer than Rubies and Italian Ice are too good to miss. 4.75 marbles

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