May 2, 2017
Title: A Worthy Man
Series: The Men of Halfway House #5
Author: Jaime Reese
Genre: M/M Romance
Release: May 2, 2017
Photographer: Eric McKinney of 6:12 Photography
A story of two men and the boundless love that forever changed them.
Vannguard Shaw has spent the last ten years serving a life sentence and adjusting to the ache of solitude. He accepts his fate, a sacrifice for the only man he ever loved and the one person who saw beyond his rough edges.
Drayton grew up with a trust fund and pre-planned future, but an unexpected encounter one night forces him to abandon everything and start from scratch. He is now a self-made man and developer of one of the most sought after electric exotic automobiles in the world with a fortune greater than that of his birthright. Yet, he’d surrender it all—again—for the only man who’s still ever-present in his heart.
After a decade and entirely too much distance between them, Vann is suddenly released back into a world that has been nothing but cruel. Drayton never lost hope they would once again reunite and pick up where they left off, but Vann’s stubborn nature and repeated encounters with a heartbreaking world prove to be a challenge.
Vann needs to tap into his fighting spirit’s reservoir of strength and hope life doesn’t punish him for taking a chance. Only then will he realize his own value and feel worthy enough to finally have Drayton’s heart. And their chance at forever.
* Although part of a series, this full-length novel can be read as a stand-alone. *Word count: 124K
Jaime Reese is one of my favorite authors and her Men of Halfway House is one of my favorite series’. This series is full of emotion, angst, love, sexiness and friendship. A Worthy Man is the next book in the series. It’s a second chance romance between two young men who found each other in a world full of hate, ugliness and disrespect. It’s a forever kind of love. A once in a lifetime love. Until one dark night changes their lives. Vann pays for his crime and after ten years, he’s back out into the world. Drayton hasn’t seen Vann in ten years. But he never forgot him. He never stopped loving him. Vann isn’t the same man he was ten years ago. Prison changed him, but he thought about Dray every day and the thought of seeing him again, touching him again… Vann is placed in Halfway House with Matt and J. Drayton saw to every little detail. Made sure everything was perfect for him. He knows the transition is going to be hard, but he hasn’t given up on Vann yet and he’s not about to start now. Drayton has made a name for himself after his life changed forever. He’s rich, famous and powerful. And now that Vann is back in his life, he’s whole again. Obstacles are going to get in the their way. The past is going to come back to haunt them. But, will Vann finally realize they are stronger together? Will he see that he’s worthy of Dray’s love? I loved this story! These two men have tortured souls, but their love is so strong. It’s stronger than anything that tries to stop them. They are whole when they are together. Yin and Yang. Dray and Vann’s story is one of my all-time favorite romance stories. Ever. A Worthy Man gave me all the feels: I cried, laughed, got hot and bothered, swooned, got mad and got more hot and bothered! I loved seeing all the Halfway House friends and family. Yay!
“We sound like a couple of saps.”
“I don’t mind being a little sticky when you’re around.”
“Okay, so we’re horny saps.”
“You have a library of special words.”
“It’s easy where you’re concerned. Because you’re amazing.”
“I know I’m hot. You keep telling me that so it’s hard to forget.”
“That was accidentally romantic.”
“I was going for intentionally romantic.”
A Worthy Man is the fifth book in one of my favorite M/M series’. Jaime somehow makes each book better and better. More emotional. More inspiring. More raw. More everything. Even though this is part of a series, each one can be read as a standalone. If you read A Mended Man then you might remember Drayton. It was a small introduction but I just knew his story would be worth the wait. And I was so right!!!
It’s been ten years since Vann has seen the only man he has ever loved. Being locked away behind bars has not been easy but being away from his Dray has been hell. This is his second chance at a life with him and he hopes to God that Dray will give him that chance. He knew he was worthy of his love but if there could still be a friendship, he would take it. He would take anything to be in his life. What Vann didn’t know was that Dray never gave up on him or them. He knew Vann didn’t deserve to be locked away for ten years. It shouldn’t even had been in there for one day. They can’t change the past but he sure as hell was going to show Vann that they deserve their future. Together. First, he needed to prove to Vann that he is worthy. That they are equal. That Dray wouldn’t be where he was without Vann’s support. Even if he didn’t realize he was giving it.
Vann has a lot of break through to get his life back. To make his life better than it was even before that night that took him away from his only constant. Drayton. He has be in isolation for so long that sensory overload can break him down. He has to find his happy place. He also needs to believe in his skills. He is a hard worker but doesn’t think his talents are anything special. But after years of being worthless, stupid, waste of space then you start to believe it. It’s hard for him to believe Dray’s special words but he trusts and loves the man something fierce. Can Drayton prove to Vann that he is worth everything to him and more?
I loved that this isn’t just about Vann’s Journey after ten year of imprisonment. Drayton has his own set of emotions to go through as well. His own insecurities. It’s wonderful to see them grow over just a few months. To be upfront for this ride was amazing. The story flows perfectly. The characters are raw, strong, sexy, and talented.
Overall…Their story is beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, sexy, and moving. I am not sure if there is going to be more to this series but I am hopeful. It was great to see what the rest of men of the halfway house are up to now but there is one character I want to know more about. Him and his stuffed bunny.
“Sometimes, you just need one person to make you feel like you fit in this world.”
“You…me…we’re a team. Got it?”
“But I’m not the same anymore. I’m working on trying to put myself back together again, but I don’t think I’ll ever be that guy you fell in love with.”
“Next time, lead the conversation with your reasoning.”
“Then I don’t get to see this pushy, dominant side of you I’ve missed.”
“I think you gave me another gray hair.”
Vann grew silent again, rubbing his thumb along Drayton’s hand. “I’m tired of life kicking my ass all the time.”
“Then maybe it’s time you kicked back.”
“Um, I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of shit that would land me back in that hell.” He patted their clasped hands with his free one. “You’re supposed to be the smart one in this relationship.”
Drayton chuckled, thankful the teasing side of Vann was still present. “What I mean is…don’t let this shit hit its mark. You’re not this tough guy everyone thinks you are.”
“You’re supposed to tell me how badass I am and how you’ve been fantasizing about me every night.”
Drayton threw his head back and laughed.
“I missed hearing your laugh all those years,” Vann whispered.
He sighed as he tilted his head toward Vann. “I need you to listen to me. Okay?”
Vann nodded, staring at their clasped hands.
“You’ve got a good heart, and I’ve learned that’s both a strength and a weakness. It’s the reason you are the most caring man I know, but also the reason you feel this pain so much.”
“You’re getting better at this whole reading people thing.” Vann tilted his face toward him, his eyes pleading as if making an effort to absorb his message. “I’m not the same guy I used to be.”
“You’re still my Vann.” Drayton reached out, placing his palm against Vann’s chest. “In here.”
“I feel as if I take one step forward then get kicked ten steps backward.” Vann softly thumped the back of his head against the wall, another tic that seemed to linger after all these years.
“You’re a fighter.”
“That’s what Four Finger Fred said.”
“Never mind,” Vann mumbled.
“You’re not a quitter, so don’t you dare start now. You always find a way to make things work.” Drayton quieted, hoping to convey every ounce of love he felt for the man staring back at him. “That relentless fighter, he’s the guy I fell in love with when I was a kid and he’s the guy who had the strength to pull through the last ten years. And he’s the guy staring back at me right now. Who I love. Back then, now, and always.”
“You’re a romantic fucker,” he said with a weak chuckle. Vann ghosted his fingers along Drayton’s jaw, his focus following his fingers as they traveled down his neck. Drayton’s chest tightened when Vann looked up and gave him a lopsided grin—one that bore a hint of youthful innocence Drayton hadn’t seen in so long. “I’m supposed to be the strong one, standing guard while you change the world. Now…I just feel so fucking lost.”
Drayton leaned in and pressed a kiss to Vann’s lips. “You and me, we’re a team. Don’t ever forget that. I’ll stand guard for you until you find your footing again.”
Vann wrapped his arms around Drayton’s shoulders and held him close. “Thank you.”
He slid his arms around Vann and sighed. He stroked the back of Vann’s hair and hoped his message had been received, and that his words had enough power to cast out the evil demons trying to imprison Vann’s spirit.
Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.