Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Love Those Men In Blue: "The Night Is Darkest" by Jayne Rylon

Some secrets refuse to stay hidden.

Lacey Daughtry's perfect weekend is interrupted by tragic news of her brother's murder in the line of duty. Plagued by a rash of mysterious phone calls, she turns to her brother's best friends and fellow officers for protection-and comfort.

Spending time in close contact with Mason and Tyler, the two men she's dreamed of since her first girlhood crush, seems like the answer to a prayer. Especially when they begin to explore the desire she's harbored for so long. But the partners are holding out on Lacey. Determined to suppress the most extreme facets of their lust, they agree to settle for sharing the woman they crave while concealing their desire for each other. Until Lacey cracks their resolve, unleashing a torrent of emotions that threatens to distract them when they can least afford it.

Their blossoming relationship is complicated by secrets. And the only way to evade the killer threatening their lives is to bare their souls in the darkest hours of the night. Or everything will come crashing down, just before the dawn.

I recently read a couple of books written by Ms Rylon in collaboration with Mari Carr (The Compass Brothers Series: Northern Exposure, Southern Comfort) and really liked the style and content of the stories. So I looked up this author as an individual writer and discovered some additional books and this series entitled Men in Blue. (I had read and reviewed several of her books previously from Ellora's Cave for The Book Binge.) This first book was released in 2009 but is one that is very much rooted in contemporary times and places, is really about three people who have been friends for years, who are mourning the death of a much loved brother and friend, and who are keeping secrets from each other--at least they think the others are clueless. Like so much else in their long-standing association as friends and lovers, that assumption is wrong also. Mason and Tyler have been secret lovers for quite a while, have "wanted" Lacey as their third for even longer, but have agreed that their pursuit of her will be conducted as if they are just best friends. It's a small town with some fairly accomplished gossips and some highly judgmental people. Add in Mason's unwillingness to accept his attraction to Tyler, and you have a pretty good level of conflict on every front.

Lacey knows that she is seen as "the little sister" of their friend who has just been killed in the line of duty. She can't seem to get them to see her as a grown woman with a serious love for them and the need to have them in her life. They also don't realize that she has been aware that their friendship is closer than just "best friends" and that this reality certainly doesn't "turn her off." That is one of their greatest fears. She is being stalked but hasn't shared that with them either as they seem to be avoiding her.

This is not your simple boys-meet-girl kind of story. It isn't a simple menage tale where two men grab the girl and they are off for hot sessions of threesome sex. It is a story that is full of the conflicts the men feel over their attraction to each other, their worry about being open in acting on that attraction, their worry that Lacey might run from them if she knew, their conflict over her being their friend's "little sister," and their most urgent concern that Lacey won't be able to deal with their "dark" and kinky needs. There is also the mystery about who might be stalking Lacey, or perhaps the slowly emerging clues that the death of Lacey's brother might not have been accidental at all.

At its most basic, this novel is about discovering the depth and breadth of relationship--the grandeur that Mason and Tyler need to discover in their own love for each other, the maturity and acceptance that Lacey has for them both as lovers and her own dark needs that they can fulfill, and their need to come clean with each other and live in the open as honest lovers and friends. There is also an entire circle of "men in blue" that form a kind of extended family for these three, all of whom are accepting of them as individuals as well as a triad. As they discover each other they are going to be challenged to discover the authenticity of their friends' caring for them as well.

This novel is really beautifully written as the strands of each of these people's lives are woven together alongside the mystery that has engulfed them. Their discovery of the perpetrator, their sense of betrayal at who this is, their recognition of their ability to move beyond a very limited view of life and relationship are the factors that shape and form the context of a story that is full of surprises and which never leaves the reader bored or at loose ends. It is a worthy beginning to a trilogy that will draw the reader into the lives and experiences of a circle of friends--all of whom are different but equally talented, whose own experiences make the reading just that much more interesting. I loved the book and was so pleased to know that the experiences of these characters would continue on through books two and three. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

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