Title: Guarding January
Author: Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages
At a Glance: Guarding January is a sweet romance that just needed a bit more originality to make it a great novel.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Lord January is at the top of the charts, only comes out at night, and is usually covered in blood. Say what you will, but the man knows how to put on a great show. But when the Vampire King is let out of rehab, the last thing he expects is someone forcing him to eat real food, hang out in the sun, and generally be a human being.
Rye Sommers, the best bodyguard in the business, has been hired to babysit a rock star whose biggest threat surprisingly isn’t all the hard drugs, desperate groupies, and crazy fans—it’s Lord January himself. But the closer Rye gets, the more LJ turns into sweet, gentle, caring Jeff Smart. He may still be the super-skinny, pierced and inked genius Lord January, but he is slowly shaking his death wish as he sheds the loneliness and exhaustion his stage persona saddled him with.
But as Rye falls in love with the real Jeff, he finds himself in over his head. He knows he can keep Lord January away from the drugs and the groupies, but saving Jeff might force Jeff to choose between his career as Lord January and his very life.
Review: Famous, hard rocking Goth Lord January is in actuality a very small, tortured soul who hides his anxieties and sorrow inside a pill bottle or a line of coke.
Jeff Smart is an artist who has the weight of the world on his shoulders: no father, a mother who has turned away from him, and is surrounded by a mix of sycophants and those who want to control him—somewhere along the way he lost himself. Now, fresh off several months of rehab, he timidly reenters the deadly world he left behind, with a new bodyguard alongside him. Rye Sommers approaches this job with just a bit of distaste, hoping January is not some spoiled rocker with an incurable taste for drugs. When he finds a wounded, near starved innocent hiding inside a harsh and macabre façade, he begins to loosen his own rigid standards and does the unthinkable—falls in love with a client.
But work looms and Rye barely has enough time to help Jeff restore his strength, much less get emotionally well. A tour looms and with it, 50 weeks of music, sweat and drugs. Will Jeff survive it is the only variable in front of both of them.
Sean Michael definitely has a trope all his own. It is the Dom/submissive, and it works well for this author. Unfortunately, however, sometimes it does feel as though slight variations in plot and some name changes are all that set each story apart. Despite that occasional problem, this was an intense and moving story of healing and redemption in many ways. This was all Jeff’s story, Rye was merely along for the ride, protecting and slowly falling in love. While it might have seemed like insta-love, many months do progress as the two men lean more and more on each other.
Getting inside the mind of a submissive is gold for Sean Michael. There are very few authors who do a better job of drawing you into the innermost thoughts of a character, and showing you what makes them tick. This is the real strength of Guarding January; that we see, know and understand how deeply wounded a person Jeff is, and just how difficult it is for him to get out of bed and move through the simple tasks of each day, like eating, bathing and playing his guitar. Each step is so difficult, and Rye’s unending patience is just the prescription Jeff needs to begin to live again.
Unlike most Michael’s novels, there is very little BDSM here—actually, none, if a bit of biting is considered playful and light foreplay. But the rich tapestry of love this author can, and does, weave into his stories is definitely there and is lovely as usual. Guarding January speaks of healing, love and finding your destiny. It is a sweet romance that just needed a bit more originality to make it a great novel.
You can buy Guarding January here: