Justice (Beneath the Palisade #3), Joel Skelton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Legal Case, Friends as Family, Humour, Cooking, Ethics
Length: 298 Pages
Despite a spirited inner debate pitting right against wrong, Owen Grady is lured off a forest trail by a handsome stranger. Just as he is about to surrender to an urgent desire, Owen realizes he is making a mistake and attempts to leave, but the rejected man wrestles Owen to the ground and discloses he is a cop. Wrongly accused of sexual misconduct, Owen seeks legal help.
Ambitious young lawyer Brent Burns is a junior partner at Burns & Callahan, a law firm located within the Men’s Center in Two Harbors, Minnesota. He takes on Owen’s case, determined to prove him innocent. But Brent can’t possibly predict the obstacles on the bumpy road to an acquittal—not the least of which is an ethical taboo involving his heart, which threatens to defeat him before he ever sets foot in the courtroom.
Wow, I think I just found one of my new favourite authors. Joel Skelton writes an intelligent and well-crafted story, complete with equal measures of humour, sweet seduction and truly a more real take on men in relationships. I thoroughly enjoyed the healthy, kind relationships the many characters shared in this story. They were a family, as with many LGBT people and even the wider community for whatever reason alienated by their own flesh and blood, we turn to our friends, the ones who choose to be an active part of our lives. And it’s there we feel safe, loved, accepted.
Owen, this guy was precious. His love for nature and appreciation of his environment rang true with his cataloguing of the species in his birding ventures. I could tell he was the conscious type, authentic and I liked him. Wholesome, he was well the liked Music teacher; respected by his students and the faculty of Jefferson High.
Propositioned by Luke Daniels while on a birding trail, he is flummoxed, then unsettled at the strange vibe the man had spewed. His instincts were right to stop the deed from progressing, but Luke doesn’t take well to being denied. It’s then that he reveals he’s a cop and bent on serving justice (the way he spins it.)
Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He’d heard about men meeting up in remote locations for casual sex, but to actually be involved in something this crazy was a first.
After being arraigned, Owen seeks legal representation at Burns and Callahan. Enter Brent – aka Owen’s knight in shining armour. He is a high achieving new attorney but came with a lot of promise and is partner in the new firm Burns and Callahan established by Harper Callahan at the ‘Men’s Centre’.
The Palisade Beach Resort, successful right from the start, enabled Harper, along with Alex, to open up the Men’s Center after Alex was discovered using a convenience store to meet guys to satisfy his sexual needs. Conceived to provide a variety of services to the entire LGBT community, the addition of a law office within the Center had been a dream of Harper’s from the beginning.
Luke Daniels – what a freak of nature, a despicable loathsome creature. Jet black hair and handsome, he was too perfect. You know the kind? He displayed all the right traits to fit into society, but scratch the surface and you find a creepy little fucker indeed. Nuff said.
Brent was a delight to read, he’s the spunky over-achiever with wit and charm to boot. I loved his sense of humour but his soft side really got me; becoming emotionally involved with a client was not his career winning move, but he was drawn to Owen.
Holding each of them up to his waist, he posed in front of his full-length mirror and presented his “come hither and slather my balls with sloppy kisses” look. He decided on his tried-and-true favorite—the tartan.
This story played a big marching band (I hope you liked that one, Joel) on my heart with one of the most gracious acts performed by Harper and Ian. Their thoughtfulness, their pledge of love toward one of their own: Alex, an act one would only share with family really flawed me. I don’t want to give it away because I think it would rob you readers of the heartfelt emotion that I just soaked up from reading firsthand. I can’t wait to hear what you all think.
These men Brent and Owen and their group of mates really appealed to me and maybe at my age the whole young adult vibe of much het-lit romance is getting a little tired. Or is it the male author? That is one of the things I loved about this story, it wasn’t one of your high-school HEA romances. It was a human, grown—up kind of story where the characters value and respect one another, and come from an age of experience, learnt mistakes. And being a story of male romance (written by a man) meant the dialogue cut to the chase and didn’t waste time on the often tired recipe many authors fall into. The men were real, their stories and characters well developed. It was a pleasure to read, not one I felt I needed to race through, but rather to absorb and really enjoy the scenery. I felt wiser for reading this book, if that makes sense.
The author starts the book with an opening dedication of gratitude to straight people who work toward equality. This is the type of respect and love I felt from the get go.
There were moments where I felt a little left behind with some of the detail of the background of each character but the amount given was adequate to appreciate this story from a stand-alone perspective. And I will absolutely be off to purchase the previous books in this series. I’m eager to see where the relationships of Harper and Ian developed; (they are such a cute couple and Theo and Alex too.) I loved their banter, the healthy mix of cheeky and funny really appealed to me.
All round this was a fabulous read, thanks Joel 4 ½ well-deserved stars.
Review copy supplied by the author in return for an honest review.