GOING DOWN by Jayne Lockwood is definitely one of a kind. Within the first few pages, we find ourselves trapped in an elevator, watching Valentino Santini, Tino for short, and Richard Mason, his boss, CEO, and billionaire having one of the hottest man-on-man makeout sessions I’ve read to date.
From the very start, I felt endeared to Tino, a young man working in a corporate environment and loving makeup and high heels to go with his suit. He is sweet, kind, has a moral compass and is talented and diligent in his work.
Richard is his stellar opposite, a hard, jaded man of the world who has a double identity as a mobster from the Italo-New Yorker mob. He is a cutthroat not only in business but he possesses a sense of honour amongst thieves and an appreciation for loyalty that sets him apart from the kind of underworld rulers that are merely cruel psychopaths whose word means nothing and whose cruelty knows no bounds.
When Richard seduces Tino, it seems at first that he is using him for sex, one hot night trapped in the elevator. But something about Tino touches him, aside from his stellar oral talents, and he promotes him to the position of his personal assistant. That is, assistant with benefits.
I love how the two men slowly get to know each other, how Richard’s hard shell gradually softens and how Tino gains the confidence to not only stand up to Richard when he is being an asshole but also starts to be able to handle him better.
The story takes us on a wild ride from Manhattan’s corporate world to the New York underbelly of mobster territory. There is action, suspense, lots of dry British humour that I am sure the British author Jayne Lockwood, a.k.a. Lady Jaguar has been blessed with in copious amounts. Her wit and banter between the characters will make you want to scream with laughter!
(At this point I’d like to recommend you also check her social media feeds where she posts questions for her characters and lets them answer in persona. The banter between the two men is just hilarious and I fervently hope Ms Lockwood is going to make a book of the collection of it one day.)
The steamy scenes are hot, raw, sometimes crude, sometimes incredibly kinky, sometimes the raw need is perfectly expressed and at other times, the growing love between the two men who are such opposites is the main tender focus of the scenes. This book has all the bandwidth of human emotions, and just as real lovers would, the current emotions between the two men are mirrored in their lovemaking. Or fucking, as the case may be.
I have to admit that I didn’t like Richard in the beginning but was so rooting for Tino that I followed the story with bated breath and it didn’t take long before I detected the first chinks in Richard’s armour that showed him to be human after all. I cannot tell you the exact moment, I fell in love with him as much as Tino already had but there I was, wanting to hug them both (which Tino might have liked and thought cute but Richard would have totally hated, I am sure).
A great example of the kind of harshness Richard portrayed, in the beginning, is this snippet from the elevator scene, going straight from mum to hooker:
"Yeah, I was out of line. She forces me to see truths I won't face." "That's her job as a mum. You should see her. She'll give you a hug and it'll all be okay." "You're right, she would. But I don't deserve that. I'm an asshole." Another drink. "A fucking asshole. Which is why I was going to spend tomorrow in my apartment, with a hooker with no gag reflex. And now that isn't going to happen either. Happy Thanksgiving."
There are a lot of hot scenes in this book but it never runs into the dangerous waters of being merely erotica. The plot is solid, suspenseful and engaging, at times, I was sitting bold upright, at others, swearing under my breath, or I might have wiped my eyes a time or two as well. Even the supporting cast was wonderful, some characters didn’t appear much and didn’t need a lot of fleshing out, others had more poignant roles and were leaping off the page, each expressing perfectly their own unique character. I think my favourite supporting roles were the couple running the bar. I won’t go into detail because I want to avoid spoilers but those two really touched my heart as well so deeply.
As for Tino, I was watching him spread his wings like a proud Mama Bear and when he “handled” Richard, daring to be bold, despite being scared at the same time, I almost jumped up and down with glee. I loved his character arc, his gradual emancipation and the many moments I expected something else, something less, and he surprised me with his sass all over again.
This book really is #4 in the Closer Than Blood series which I didn’t know at the time when I started it but it totally works as a standalone as well, although characters from the previous books in the series are recurring. Lockwood managed to weave their backstory into the narration in such an expert way that I had all the information I needed at hand to understand who was who to whom and yet, it never felt like info-dumping at all.
There was never a dull moment reading this book from the first to the last page and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A deserved five stars for this masterpiece of gay love, only because there aren’t more to give. I would if I could!
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Jayne Lockwood lives in the beautiful Chiltern Hills and writes under the names Jayne Lockwood and Lady Jaguar (for hot MM romance.) From romantic suspense to erotica to LGBT fantasy sci-fi, the common link between all her books is love, regardless of sexual orientation, race, colour or gender.
Previously she has written under SA Smythe and has been traditionally published as Savannah Smythe for Black Lace Books. She is also one of the founding members of WROTE Podcast, a forum for queer storytelling across all mediums, and reviews the books featured in some of their shows.