Title: A Matter of Time: Volumes 1 & 2
Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 280 and 298
Characters: Jory Keyes Harcourt, Detective Sam Kage
POV: 1st person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance/Murder Mystery
Volume One: Jory Keyes leads a normal life as an architect’s assistant until he is witness to a brutal murder. Though initially saved by police Detective Sam Kage, Jory refuses protective custody—he has a life he loves that he won’t give up no matter who is after him. But Jory’s life is in real jeopardy, especially after he agrees to testify about what he saw.
While dealing with attempts on his life, well-meaning friends who want to see him happy, an overly protective boss, and a slowly unfolding mystery that is much more sinister than he could ever imagine, the young gay man finds himself getting involved with Sam, the conflicted and closeted detective. And though Jory may survive the danger, he may not survive a broken heart.
Volume Two: Three years ago, Jory Harcourt changed his name and shut the door on a past full of pain, only to emerge stronger on the other side. He has a new career, a great working partner, and a satisfying life—except for the hole in his chest left behind when police Detective Sam Kage walked out with his heart.
Now Sam’s back and he knows what he wants… and what he wants is Jory. Jory, who doesn’t know if he can survive another break up or losing Sam to his dangerous job, resists returning to the arms of the only man he has ever truly loved. But when a serial killer with a score to settle targets Jory, he will have to decide if love is worth the danger as he tries to solve the case and keep Sam safe.
Mary Calmes’ A Matter of Time: Volumes One and Two ought to come with a variety of warning labels cautioning readers that beginning this series will cause extreme bouts of anxiety and fatigue, (because you’ll be up till all hours of the night, reading) will have you laughing and crying alternately in a case of emotional whiplash, will keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of betrayal and danger, but to top it all off, this book will make you fall irrevocably in love with its narrator, Jory Keyes Harcourt and his on again, off again, on again lover, Detective Sam Kage.
Dreamspinner Press has rereleased this series (originally published in 2009 as four separate books) and condensed it into a two volume set. If you didn’t read books one through four in ’09, read them now. Just do it. Now. Seriously. Don’t wait. And a word of advice: go ahead and purchase both volumes at once because you won’t want to miss a beat in the continuation of this thoroughly consuming tale that begins the night Jory witnesses a cold blooded murder, nearly blowing a police sting operation, and meets the surly detective, Sam Kage, all in the name of helping his friend Anna, who is escaping an abusive husband.
From the moment Jory’s presence is exposed by the rambunctious pup he’s in Anna’s home to rescue to the moment he escapes to find himself face-to-face with a very angry Detective Kage, the young man’s life changes in ways he could never have dreamt of before, not in his wildest of imaginings.
At twenty-two, Jory’s managed to carve a good life for himself from the remains of a childhood that might have damaged a slightly weaker man. An unknown father, a mother who abandoned him, and a grandmother who raised him but died while Jory was still young enough to be thrown into the foster care system could have sent him down a far different path in life, but if you learn anything at all about the man as you read his words, you’ll learn that he is nothing if not tenacious and utterly impetuous, which succeeds…sometimes. Sometimes it just comes back to bite him in the ass.
Encouraged to enter the witness protection program to avoid the sure danger he’s in now, Jory adamantly refuses, much to the consternation of Detective Kage, who, let’s just say, perhaps doesn’t quite know what to do with the younger man.
Sam is straight, you see, and Jory is obviously not, which immediately handicaps poor Sam. Why, you ask? Well, let me fill you in; here’s lesson number two: everybody loves Jory, whether they want to or not. (With the exception of the people who want to kill him, of course.) But to everyone else, Jory is utterly irresistible. He is beautiful, both inside and out. He’s charming, funny, intelligent, dead sexy, charismatic, quirky, compassionate, magnetic, and perceptive. Jory is the consummate friend; he’s the man that everyone inevitably gravitates toward; it’s simply unavoidable. Jory makes himself indispensable, as though it’s imperative that he be somewhere within your center of gravity, so for Sam? Yes, you can see the dilemma.
Witnessing the attraction grow between the two men, watching their feelings for each other ebb and flow through adversity, and ultimately, heartbreak, is nothing short of sublime. Volume One is a study in endurance for the reader, not because the plot is poorly executed—not by a long shot—but because you wonder, as you’re reading, just how many times you can pull yourself back together after Jory and Sam have torn you apart.
Sam’s story is one of personal revelation, in which he will find the courage either to allow himself to love Jory completely, openly, and honestly; or he will return to the life he led before they met, continuing on with his dreams of marriage and a family, a life that will guarantee his security both personally and professionally. This is the conflict that provides for so much of the agony throughout this narrative. Sam is a massive presence, the consummate dominant male, strong and intimidating—to everyone but Jory, who brings the big man to his knees, leaving him unsure of how to move forward.
A three year time lapse between Volumes One and Two picks up with Jory having reassembled the pieces of his shattered remains after Sam disappeared from his hospital bedside without so much as a goodbye. Sam left to find the kingpin behind the Saul Grant murder, with the intention of securing Jory’s safety, but also to attempt to work out his feelings for the man who’d thrown his life into a tailspin.
For those agonizing years, Jory’s life is a shambles, falling back into his old pattern of partying and one night stands. He eventually finds the motivation to attempt to move on with another man, but even the dashing and wealthy Aaron Sutter is doomed to fail in Jory’s eyes because his love for Sam is now the benchmark by which he will compare everyone else. Though he’s convinced himself he no longer loves Sam, Jory seems incapable of loving anyone else, and it’s a paradox for the man; finally learning what true love is, only to have that love taken away, knowing that whatever or whoever else may come along will only pale in comparison to the one who nearly destroyed him.
His adoptive brother and former boss, Dane Harcourt, has given Jory a family, whose unconditional love and unwavering support has seen Jory through. In fact, Jory has done the same for Dane—they are brothers in every sense of the word but blood, and their bond is as necessary as breath to them both. This parallel storyline weaves beautifully into the romance, as well as figuring prominently into the murder mystery plot, proving that family isn’t always those to whom you are born, but is also those to whom you choose to belong. For Jory and Dane, and Dane’s wife, Aja, their bond with each other will prove dangerous, however, as Dane’s biological family attempts to insinuate themselves into his life.
Sam’s return to Chicago after his mission is completed isn’t one of happy reunions, by any means. He’s back for a full year before the two men run into each other, leaving little doubt that Sam has changed. But so has Jory, and the question becomes, have time and circumstance changed both men so fully that their lives can no longer intersect? Sam makes his intentions very clear, but mistrust is difficult to overcome; his abandonment of Jory was destructive, and Jory must protect himself from the pain that Sam can wield against him.
A serial killer is targeting Jory, as the FBI uncovers the evidence, albeit somewhat circumstantial, that his life is in danger. Protecting Jory, loving him, and convincing him that he’s ready to commit himself fully and forever to him becomes Sam’s obsession. But when Sam is nearly killed in an explosion, it’s Jory’s turn to take charge of his own life and future, to protect Sam, as well as Dane and Aja, from an unknown and insane force bent on murder.
Every once in a great while, a book will come along that absolutely makes me want to shout its praises into the furthest reaches of the worldwide web. It doesn’t have to be perfectly punctuated, nor does it have to be flawless. It just needs to supply me with characters that I can become entirely consumed by, a story that I can become completely lost in from beginning to end. And most of all, it has to end leaving me wanting more, for no other reason that I don’t want to say goodbye. A Matter of Time, both volumes, left me with the overwhelming urge to go back to page one and begin reading them all over again just so I wouldn’t have to.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Watch for Jory and Sam’s story to continue in Bulletproof, releasing on September 26, 2011 from Dreamspinner Press!