Title: Looking for Jesse
Author: Lisa Worrall
Publisher: Self-Published/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 217 Pages
At a Glance: Essentially, this was a thrilling mystery with an ending that seemed tacked on to satisfy the m/m element needed to make it qualify as an m/m novel. I like this author’s style and will go back for more of her stories, no doubt, but this one fell just short of perfect for me.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Life is full of decisions and it’s the split-second ones that change your world forever.
Nick Shepherd made such a decision on the day his son, Jesse, was taken from a Christmas market in Naperville. The woman looked normal and had a son of her own, and he was only going to be a minute. But that minute was all she needed. His son was gone.
A year later, the task force is being downsized and they are no closer to finding Jesse than they were the day he disappeared. At his wits end, Nick is given a number and a name by the lead on the case.
Ex-detective Frank Ford has issues, several of them. Two steps shy of a full-blown alcoholic, all he wants is to bury himself in the bottle. He’s doing a pretty good job of it, too, when Nick Shepherd asks for his help. Does Ford want to help? No. Is Ford going to help? Hell no. Until four words resonate deep within him.
“She took my son!”
Review: I normally don’t like to begin a review with a warning, but I struggled with this for a few days and decided it should be noted that there are on-page instances of child abuse in this novel that may indeed be triggering for some readers. While they were brief and definitely needed in order to fully project the evil that the character Penelope Lawrence embodied, they were also disturbing to read. Having said that, I felt the author dealt carefully with the subject of child abduction, and never sensationalized the subject matter just for the sake of a “good story”. But, make no mistake, this story was traumatic both for its characters and, at times, for this reviewer, and because this aspect of the novel was so well written, I felt very much a part of the action.
In a split second, Nick Shepherd loses his son to a horror of a woman who has stolen children before. Trying to assuage his son’s despair at losing a mitten his deceased mother had knitted for him, Nick asks a stranger to watch his son, who is in line to see Santa, while he darts across the hall to look for the lost article of clothing. When he returns, his nightmare begins–and lasts for over a year–as police fail to find his missing son. Already reeling from the loss of his wife at the hands of a car thief, little Jesse is all Nick has left, and he will stop at nothing to get him back. So when the police detective in charge of the case suggests using a private detective, former cop Frank Ford, Nick leaps at the chance. Frank is a borderline alcoholic who is haunted by demons of his own, and less than amenable to taking on the case–until he discovers Nick has lost his son. Now, the two men race against time to find the woman who has taken Jesse. Along the way, they will discover a closeness that neither of them have ever experienced before, and Nick will learn the secret Ford keeps that has haunted the man for six long years.
I will say that the mystery and pursuit part of this novel was outstanding. The entire time Nick and Ford are tracking Penelope and the boys, I was on the edge of my seat and simply unable to put this book down. With my heart in my throat, I read as they closed in on this woman, and the chapters where the children were the focus were just gut-wrenching to read. The fact that she had not only renamed Jesse and Danny but also made Jesse act and look like a little girl was just terrifying. Her madness coupled with her brutal, hurtful actions was nauseatingly real and horrifying. She was always one step ahead of the two men, and that made this novel so thrilling. Had the romance aspect been so adeptly handled this review would have been a solid five star, but, unfortunately, the relationship between Ford and Nick was a bit of a mess, to say the least.
It began strangely with a joking kiss from Ford to break the tension, and then was mainly seen through Nick’s confusing thoughts about why he would even be attracted to a man—something the author is quick to point out was never on the horizon before for Nick, not even a passing glance at other men. From there, it was more of an afterthought for both men as they pursued the kidnapper and the boys. Then, we suddenly get an epilogue eight months into the future that has put a definite spin on where these two guys end up, and the nature of their attraction to each other is defined with such a sudden about face that my head was spinning. Honestly, it just made no sense. There was no buildup, no sense of passion, no analyzing how two admittedly heterosexual men were now involved, and then some. The ending of this novel just had me scratching my head in disbelief, and that was such a shame because every chapter leading up to that was so very well written and amazing to read.
Essentially, this was a thrilling mystery with an ending that seemed tacked on to satisfy the m/m element needed to make it qualify as an m/m novel. It was so poorly done that I had to verify that the same author, Lisa Worrall, had written it. She had crafted a really topnotch story until the last chapter, and that was unfortunate. All in all, Looking for Jesse was a thrilling, action packed story that left me breathless but confused at the end. I like this author’s style and will go back for more of her stories, no doubt, but this one fell just short of perfect for me.
You can buy Looking for Jesse here: