Saturday, August 2, 2014
The Companion by Lloyd A. Meeker
Author: Lloyd A. Meeker
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: DWS Photography
Genre: contemporary, mystery
Length: 220 pages, 70k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print
Shepherd Bucknam hasn’t had a lover in more than a decade and doesn’t need one. As a Daka, he coaches men in the sacred art and mystery of sexual ecstasy all the time, and he loves his work. It’s his calling. In fact, he’s perfectly content—except for the terrors of his recurring nightmare and the ominous blood-red birthmarks on his neck. He’s convinced that together they foretell his early and violent death.
When Shepherd’s young protégé is murdered, LAPD Detective Marco Fidanza gets the case. The two men are worlds apart: Marco has fought hard for everything he’s accomplished, in sharp contrast to the apparent ease of Shepherd’s inherited wealth—but their mutual attraction is too hot for either of them to ignore.
Shepherd swears he’ll help find his protégé’s killer, but Marco warns him to stay out of it. When an influential politician is implicated, the police investigation grinds to a halt. Shepherd hires his own investigator. Marco calls it dangerous meddling. As their volatile relationship deepens, Shepherd discovers his nightmares might not relate to the future, but to the deadly legacy of a past life—a life he may have to revisit before he can fully live and love in this one.
There’s so much packed into this novel that I wasn’t at all sure the author could tie everything together, but I shouldn’t have worried. Lloyd Meeker did a great job of solving mysteries, concluding investigations, and finding hope and a future for two men who aren’t always on the same page.
Shepherd’s job is a tough one for a cop to make peace with, especially since the more spiritual aspects of the tantric practices elude Marco. Whoring he understands, the functions of a Daka, not so much. It’s just one issue they have to work around to make a future. More immediate is Shepherd’s insistence on being involved in the investigation of his friend and protégé’s murder. The cops have hit a stone wall, and a civilian isn’t supposed to intervene, especially when powerful special interests are hovering in the background. Family is a deep and strong presence in Marco’s daily life, but Shepherd’s history is more grim, lonely, and full of betrayals. Sisters getting protective is completely out of his experience. After one particularly lively phone call, I imagined him clutching his crotch and eyeing the door lest an avenging fury burst through to make good on her promise.
We get the story in Shepherd’s voice only, first person, and he’s strong enough to carry the whole story. Marco comes through loud and clear too, where he agrees with Shepherd, explores him, and can’t cope with him. Both men have to grow in order to be together, and Marco has no trouble showing us where he’s changed.
We get to be inside Shepherd’s head for some serious spiritual growth, which I can’t exactly identify with on a personal level, but do applaud. Finding his peace with his pasts, all of them, is no easy thing. Being in his head for the last couple of chapters is an interesting (in the good sense) experience.
The book has some warnings at ARe, but the incest warning is for something in the past and off screen, thank goodness. It’s necessary to understand why everything afterwards rolled out as it did, but is not a lot of screen time. A plot point related to this had a bit of deus ex machina flavor, but okay. I found the dreamed/recalled violence much harder to stomach, but it too explains what Shepherd needs to understand in the present.
The writing is very fluid, with vivid passages showing how Shepherd moves through his world and what’s holding him back from being truly happy, and how he can get past it. I enjoyed this book even while occasionally wanting to shake the Kindle and everyone in it. 4.5 marbles