I never really understood those Halestorm lyrics until I read these books.
I am not typically a book-thrower. People talk about wanting to throw books across the room at frustrating parts, but I’ve never really had that urge. And I’ve always believed it was because I weather conflict well and guiltily enjoy a little drama in my entertainment.
But, let me tell you, Adrien English and Jake Riordan successfully turned me not only into a book-thrower, but also:
- a book-screamer (I screamed at multiple characters, multiple times throughout the series)
- a book-avoider (I had to stop reading them while I finished my own book because I could feel myself getting sucked in, Captive Prince-style)
- and a page-jumper (as in I would turn the page and skim down to get a preview for what was immediately coming)
I began this series by listening to the first book as an audio book. At first, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was a little dry, a little ‘meh’, but the mystery was good and I was drawn to the main character, Adrien English. So I listened to the second. And then the third. And then I went back and read them as e-books to make sure I hadn’t missed anything crucial before reading the last three books. And the rest is history. Here is my breakdown of the series and how I felt about each book (warning: I am a terrible reviewer, bear with me):
Book 1 – Fatal Shadows: I began listening to the audio book at work. Because of this, I know I missed some things. But I also listened during my commute and that was when I really got into the mystery. Adrien English is a bookstore owner and writer who is suspected of murdering one of his employees – who was also a long time friend. Jake Riordan is one of the detectives investigating the murder. Once it is established that Adrien is innocent, he manages to weasel his way into helping with the investigation, only to find that he may be the actual killer’s next target. I’ll give you three guesses who saves his smart ass, and the first two don’t count.
Book 2 – A Dangerous Thing: In this one, Adrien and Jake are seeing each other. Sort of. Jake is still firmly in the closet, and is also seeing a woman. Feeling less and less like a priority, Adrien goes to visit the ranch that he inherited from his grandmother…and manages to stumble into another murder mystery. And who do you think comes running to his aid again? I’m not giving you three guesses this time. At the ranch, we get to see Jake and Adrien grow closer, even if only in frustrating little jumps and false starts.
Book 3 – The Hell You Say: I loved the satanic cult angle. I loved that the main objective of this story was to save a missing person, rather than solve a murder. Call me an optimist. But on the Jake and Adrien side, this book ripped my heart out. I used to say that Derek from Strong Enough was the most frustrating protagonist I ever had to read. Nope. Jake Riordan in this book. Hands down. After he gets his lady friend pregnant and proposes marriage, I wanted him to go fuck himself so badly that I almost put the whole series down. Fortunately, when I love a character as much as I love Adrien, I need to make sure things turn out alright for them.
Book 4 – Death of a Pirate King: THIS ONE, BY FAR, WAS MY FAVORITE. And why did I love this one so much? Because it keeps you on the edge of your seat right up until the very last line. Not to mention, the murderer in this one was by far the sickest, in my personal opinion. How he corners Adrien at the end, and what he plans to do, literally made my stomach turn. I still get nauseous thinking about it. The ending of this one alone is worth making it this far. And Jake finally does the right thing by everyone in his life, including himself, by being honest about who he is. And you guessed it, he saves Adrien again. Boy, does he ever.
Book 5 – The Dark Tide: In this one, it was time for me to be frustrated with Adrien. Jake figured his life out. Now, I had to wait on my beloved Adrien to figure his out. When Mel, Adrien’s ex, walked back into his life for a second, I literally slumped back on my bed and threw my hands up. Why?, I asked the ceiling. Out loud. Deadpan. Why tho? But I managed to press on and in the end, it was so worth it. So, SO worth it.
Book 6 – So This is Christmas: This felt like a wonderful bonus at the end of a series. We find our beloved Jake and Adrien finally together, finally living under the same roof, finally open with the world about their relationship, as well as being more open and honest with each other. I did NOT see the beautiful ending coming, but man, I was thrilled when we got there. (Note: Technically, this is the seventh book in the series, but the actual sixth book is sort of a choose-your-own-adventure retelling of the first book. I haven’t read that one yet, as I think it would be better if I had the physical book, rather than just the e-book.)
A few weeks ago on Facebook, I posted about the three ways I determine whether or not I love a book or series:
- Did I have to force myself to stop reading so I could get water/food/etc?
- Did I stop to argue with/berate a character, possibly out loud?
- Did I have to stop at least once and hug it – the book or my e-reader, whichever platform I’m reading on – to my chest?
If I did one of these, the book was okay. If I did two, the book was pretty good. If I did all three, then it was amazing and I will likely name it as a favorite to anyone who asks. After reading the first two books, I would’ve said they were okay. After the third, I would’ve said they were pretty good. From book four through to the end, the Adrien English series managed to classify itself as one my most cherished favorites. No one could ever dethrone my beloved Damen of Akielos & Laurent of Vere, but Jake Riordan & Adrien English come in a very solid second.
Props to you, Josh Lanyon. I loved it all, even when it hurt. Although, I am definitely gun-shy about picking up another series by you…
Who am I kidding? I’ve already got the first two Dangerous Ground books on my Kindle. I truly already miss the misery.