Title: True Blue
Author: R J Jones
Series: Out of the Blue #3
Release Date: May 13th 2016
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
When being true to yourself means denial is no longer an option.
On the heels of a tragedy, Brandon White shaved his hair, adorned his body with tattoos, and concentrated on his attraction to the opposite sex. Fifteen years later, Brandon is a protective son and a loyal and respected member of the San Francisco Fire Department, bedding anything in a skirt that promises not to stick around afterward.
When his past and present collide in his dreams—including his best friend and fellow fireman, Mason—Brandon knows things are never going to be the same again. He starts to recall that fateful day years before, and the long-forgotten feelings that preceded it. The most important thing he remembers—he’s not as straight as he’d thought.
With help, Brandon learns to accept who he was always meant to be. But when tragedy strikes again, Brandon must reconcile his past and present and deal with his grief if he is to ever be true, not only to himself, but to Mason as well.
True Blue is different from the previous two book in R J Jones’ Out of the Blue series, in that it is written entirely from Brandon’s point of view. However, R J Jones still manages to capture the deep emotional quality of Out of the Blue and Black and Blühe, making True Blue another consuming story.
True Blue begins with Brandon leaving the apartment of a nameless woman, after another drunken one-night stand, and heading straight to fellow firefighter, Mason’s home. Immediately the reader understands that Mason is like a comfort blanket for Brandon and despite Brandon’s firm insistence that he is straight, he still finds himself masturbating in the shower at the thought of Mason giving him a blowjob.
Brandon’s epiphany comes after he is assaulted with memories from his past. He remembers the tragic death of his best friend and the feelings he had long since buried because of fear, hence his tattoos, buzz cut and joining a gym. R J Jones captures Brandon’s admission that he may be gay in a beautiful scene with his mother, in which I felt tears prick my eyes for the first time in this story.
The important element is that the impact of Brandon’s confession, and subsequent actions, validates Brandon’s feelings that he is not bisexual, even though he has slept with women although he seems desperate to label himself. Instead it is the trauma of watching his first love die and in a sense, his cowardice, which have forced him to become someone he isn’t.
The reader sees that Brandon and Mason are a perfect couple, even before they do, but it is mistrust which holds Mason back. Watching how they overcome their issues, and how Brandon finally accepts counseling , means that we connect with these characters on an even deeper level – and this is one thing which makes R J Jones’ stories such a joy to read.
I love the way in which R J Jones includes characters the reader knows from Out of the Blue and Black and Blühe. For me, as a reader, this brings a familiarity and continuity to the series and also means the ending of True Blue is a real tear-jerker.
True Blue is as close to perfect as any book can be, in my opinion, and after reading this series I have one-clicked all of R J Jones’ back catalogue!
AFTER WORK, I rode my bike around the corner to our neighborhood bar. Gray and Jet were seated at a table near the window with another guy I didn’t recognize. After grabbing a beer, I approached the table and the stranger seated with the brothers stood up and held his hand out for me to shake. “Mason?”
Jet stood quickly. “Ah, no, this is Brandon, sorry. Hi, Brandon, where’s Mason?”
“Still at the station. He’ll be here shortly.” I assessed the guy I assumed to be Mason’s date.
“Oh, sorry about that. Jet told me Mason was tall and built—I just assumed it was you.”
The stranger smiled at me, but when I didn’t smile back, it faded and he sat back down. Mason’s date was tall, blond, and not good enough. I didn’t like him. He was wearing a pink shirt with the collar popped, for fuck’s sake.
Jet broke the silence. “Brandon, this is Andy. I work with him at Magz. He’s meeting Mason tonight.”
“Uh-huh.” I sat across from Randy and glared at him. He looked like he was going to shit himself. I straightened my shoulders and pushed my sleeves up, making sure my tattoos were visible, then folded my arms across my chest. I was intimidating to some—shaved head, tattoos, and biker’s leathers did that. For others it was a turn-on. Like the brunette at the bar who kept looking at me, flipping her hair.
“You can’t help yourself, can you?” Gray growled at his brother. “You have to play matchmaker with everyone.”
“And look how well it worked out for you.” Jet winked. Gray continued to scowl but it softened. Randy was looking everywhere but at me. Good.
Kris and Mason walked in and came over to the table, and when Gray saw Kris, his slight scowl turned into a goofy grin. Like I said, nauseating.
Randy looked at Jet and Jet nodded. Randy stood, holding his hand out again, this time for Mason. “Hi, Mason? I’m Andy, pleased to meet you.”
Mason smiled, all friendly and warm. It seemed he went for the preppy type. “Hi, Andy. Jet’s told me a lot about you. Buy you a drink?” Mason looked at me briefly, his warm eyes landing on mine, but I couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
Randy’s smile was all teeth. “Yeah, sure, I’d like that.”
When Randy and Mason headed to the bar, Randy with a stupid grin on his face, I scowled at Jet.
“Nothing.” I looked back at Mason, who was talking quietly with his date. They were smiling at each other, laughing. It was intimate and, for some reason, difficult to watch. “I’m getting another beer.”
Walking to the bar, I could tell Mason and Randy were deep in conversation as I approached. I put my arm around Mason, squeezing his shoulder while I eyed Randy up and down. “Everything all right here?”
Mason took a sip of his beer. “What do you want, B?”
“Just wanted to say hello to Randy.”
Randy shrunk under my gaze and he looked like he was about to flee.
“Did you need something?” Mason’s tone had an edge to it.
“Like I said, just wanted to say hello.”
“And you’ve done that. Haven’t you got somewhere else to be?” Mason nodded toward the hair-flicking brunette, his eyes hard.
“Fine, I’ll see you later.” Dropping my arm, I headed to the other side of the bar. The brunette smiled as I approached.
Thirty minutes later, the twins were singing and I had a lap full of red dress. Kris sat next me, watching the brothers, a dreamy look about him. Well, he was crap company tonight. Mason and Randy were still at the bar, now standing closer than before, but whenever Mason looked my way, his forehead scrunched up and his eyes flashed. What was his problem?
I watched as Randy ran a finger up Mason’s arm and Mason smiled at him, that slight smile that made his eyes crinkle.
“Why are you watching them?” Red Dress asked.
“Those guys at the bar.”
Kris, obviously hearing Red Dress, raised an eyebrow, which I ignored. I shook my head. “Sorry, babe. I’m not watching them.” I forced myself to focus on the woman in my lap. “I was just thinking about getting out of here. You wanna go somewhere a little more… private?” I ran my hand up her leg to her bare thigh and winked.
“Sure, but I’ve got an early flight tomorrow so you can’t stay.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. Where are you going so early?”
“Home. I’ve been here for the last two weeks on business. My hotel is across the street.”
“Lead the way.”
OUT OF THE BLUE #1 – OUT OF THE BLUE
When everything happens Out of the Blue…
Lt Cameron Cooper has been with the San Francisco Fire Department for fifteen years. He’s seen and dealt with a lot of horrifying situations. He’s always considered himself mentally tough, but when he attends a multi-vehicle accident and sees a dead boy with features remarkably similar to his long-time boyfriend, his mental health takes a hit.
All Jake Montgomery wants is to propose to his boyfriend on their ten-year anniversary. He’s already bought the perfect rings, but when Cameron struggles to look at him after a tragic accident, he has doubts about their future. Cam is withdrawing, and Jake doesn’t know why.
With heated arguments and cold shoulders, Cam and Jake’s life starts to fall apart. Just when Cam thinks he can overcome his issues and finally talk to Jake, memories from Jake’s past threaten to push them apart forever.
There are two sides to every story and in her wonderful dual narrative R J Jones allows her reader insight into both Cam and Jake’s perspectives.
Unlike many of the recent contemporary MM romances that I have read, Jake’s and Cameron’s is an established relationship. They have been partners for nearly 10 years and even though we can see that they are perfect for one another, R J Jones reminds us that relationships can be hard and require effort from both parties to make them work.
Out of the Blue is and emotional story and is less about the actions of the protagonists and more about who they are. Jake and Cam are two people who the reader grow to love and we connect with their range of feelings. This is entirely down to R J Jones’ writing, which has an open and honest quality. Both Jake and Cam speak in the first person and some of the more difficult moments for them are also heartbreaking for the reader.
R J Jones breaks down some of the stereotypes of PTSD and masculinity in Out of the Blue, which makes this an important novel in its genre and we watch Cam change and grow as a person.
I think I was initially less sympathetic towards Jake but as I got to know him better I felt I understood his words and actions, which makes the ending of the novel so beautiful.
I finished Out of the Blue way before I was ready to say goodbye to the characters, though luckily I can now start Black and Bluhe straight away! Out of the Blue is a story that really touched me and I think it deserves a place on anyone’s bookshelf.
OUT OF THE BLUE #2 – BLACK AND BLüHE
Grayson Black has never forgiven himself for not saving his identical twin brother, Jet, from a savage beating at their father’s hands ten years ago. Jet’s near-death never would have happened if Gray hadn’t been so focused on his boyfriend at the time. He has sworn to take care of his brother ever since. Gray can’t afford a distraction from his self-imposed mission, the type of distraction presented by the gorgeous blond showing up at their gigs.
Kris Larson is a firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department. Since splitting from his girlfriend, his favorite way to spend nights off is watching the Black Brothers play in the bars of the Bay Area, especially the guitarist. But it’s not until the brothers are left homeless after a fire at their apartment building that Kris has the opportunity to know the real person behind the brooding façade.
Gray fights his attraction to Kris, but with a meddlesome twin who just wants him to be happy, it’s a losing battle. Before Gray and Kris can have a lasting relationship, though, Gray must learn to forgive himself, let go of the past, and lay more than one demon to rest.
In her author bio it says that R J Jones writes “emotionally charged, character driven romances” – and this is never more evident than in her novel, Black and Blühe. Reading this was like being on an emotional rollercoaster. One minute I aww’d, the next I gasped and then there were tears dropping onto my Kindle – and I cried a lot!
Any reader who has read Out of the Blue, before this second book in the series, will have already met Cam’s firefighting colleague, Kris, and there is a brief mention of the Black brothers and the fire which leads up to them staying with Kris.
In Out of the Blue we witness Kris’ struggle with his sexuality and though he identifies with being bisexual, in Black and Blühe he has decided that he wants a committed relationship with a man. Kris is a lovely character; kind, caring and unselfish. Kris has a fairly straightforward past, but despite his lack of emotional baggage, he is still a character who we take to our hearts.
Kris has spent weeks watching the Black brothers at various pub gigs and is infatuated with the quieter of the twins, Gray. Little does he know that Gray has been watching him too. When the Black brothers are forced to leave their apartment after the fire, Kris offers them a room and the sometimes turbulent relationship between him and Gray begins.
Unlike Kris, Jet and Gray carry physical and emotional scars of their past. Whilst Gray is sullen and guarded, Jet is friendly and gregarious. Jet’s connection with Kris is purely plutonic, but I loved the ease of their friendship. However, Gray is immediately suspicious of Kris and refuses to let the physical attraction he feels towards Kris interfere with the fact that he wants to protect his brother.
R J Jones gives the reader clues about the twins’ past but it takes longer for them to admit the truth to Kris and even more time to reconcile themselves with the events which have shaped them.
The romance between Kris and Gray flourishes slowly but R J Jones expresses the emotions of her characters beautifully, though sometimes painfully.
Black and Blühe is heart-wrenching, intense and passionate and, in my opinion, even more exquisite than Out of the Blue. If I could award it a 10 star rating I would!
About the Author
RJ started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men popped into her thoughts, insisting on telling her their story that she started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.
RJ’s initial thought was if she could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow her to concentrate on other aspects of the day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work. But they didn’t shut up. They told her their entire story and she didn’t sleep for days. Sometimes she couldn’t keep up with what they were telling her and she had to keep a notebook by the bed.
Whilst RJ was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.
You see the problem? If RJ ever wants to sleep again then she needs to write.
RJ is a wife and a mother to two boys. Even her dog is a boy.
She is surrounded by males.
RJ writes emotionally charged, character driven romances. Her guys will always get their HEA, but it will never be easy.