Jacob’s Ladder by Z.A. Maxfield
Jacob “Yasha” Livingston had a bad day. First there was the head cold. Then the orgy, the fight, and the hospital. Between that and the bus driver who ejected him — after accusing him of transmitting the Swine Flu — the rest of his day seemed fairly vague. Now he’s stuck in a small town called Santo Ignacio and he has a whole lot of thinking to do.
One thing is, when fate speaks in the form of an EMT, maybe it’s time to listen. One man in particular, EMT, Jason “J.T.” Lentz, with his shy smile and jade green eyes, seems more like an angel than a paramedic. But Jason has a date with a newer, prettier girl every night, despite the fact that he seems to return Yasha’s interest.
If J.T. is afraid of his feelings it might be Yasha’s chance to heal the healer. It’s up to Jacob’s new friends and the magic of St. Nacho’s… in St. Nacho’s 3 — Jacob’s Ladder.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
While the romance aspect of Jacob’s Ladder is not my favorite, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable story to read. Maxfield is a very good writer and she has a way of drawing you into the story, the setting, and the characters so you simply don’t want to stop. While I didn’t find the main romance that enthralling, nonetheless I completely enjoyed reading this story quite a bit and honestly can’t wait for the next installment in the series. The easy tone and crisp, clean prose have the pages flying by while the hot sex and sparking chemistry delivers a good book start to finish.
The story is told in first person from Jacob or Yasha’s point of view. He’s having a bad day when a head cold sends him home only to end up in a violent confrontation with his then boyfriend. Apparently the boyfriend didn’t appreciate Yasha breaking up his orgy and decides to take it out on Yasha’s face. Bleeding, hurting, and still suffering from a cold, Jacob then ends up kicked off the greyhound when the driver fears he’s carrying the swine flu. Not only that but then Jacob’s brother can’t come get him for several days. Here the slightly corny, overly contrived set up ends with Yasha/Jacob stranded in St. Nacho’s for several days.
Yet once you can get past this series of obvious events, the real ebb and flow of the story starts. Yasha meets EMT JT and the sparks immediately fly. JT is deeply closeted, very religious, and likes to lecture. He realizes Yasha has been abused by his partner and immediately wants to set Yasha on a better path. The issue of spousal abuse is handled well but lightly. The story keeps the focus on the romance and lets the abuse be secondary and somewhat distant so as not to depress any readers. This is likely a good choice as the issue is well handled. Various women are shown to be strong, independent, and survivors as they establish better lives after the abuse. Initially Yasha is wary about this group but soon comes to be an important part in many ways. I like that the story isn’t afraid to show this issue but doesn’t dwell and if anything, keeps the issue disconnected and thus a lesser emotional impact.
The real focus is on the romance between Yasha and the closeted JT. JT is a difficult character to like as he flip flops in rather classical ways. He sees Yasha late at night for sex and then parades girl after girl in front of him during the day. Yasha also alternates between accepting this behavior and trying to break it off. Here is where the story lost me some because it’s hard to accept and like either man as they struggle with the relationship. Yasha/Jacob accepts JT’s horrible behavior through a variety of weak excuses and see through rationalizations. The numerous secondary characters almost all advise Yasha to give up and I couldn’t help but agree with them. JT is not a bad character but so clearly scared to be himself that his righteous behavior makes him contradictory. His later final declaration towards Yasha feels too easy and fast to be believable.
Despite the fact that I didn’t fully buy into JT and Yasha’s relationship, the sex scenes are still pretty sexy with smoking hot chemistry and the setting sucks me in every time. I absolutely love the St. Nacho’s town feel and each story set there reminds me of the changing seasons and quirky characters. The easy feel of the author’s writing is offered again and the glimpse into the lives of past characters is always welcome. This series has the feel of visiting favorite friends that you may not always agree with but love to visit anyway. While I didn’t necessarily appreciate the main relationship, I enjoyed reading it regardless. The look into potential new characters (please be Yasha’s brother and Cam next) and the great coastal setting continues to deliver a simply enthralling story.
Another important point is that Jacob’s Ladder is an easy stand alone book. If you’re new to the series or have (gasp!) forgotten the previous books, Jacob’s Ladder catches you up easily and quickly. Most likely you’ll fall in love with the setting all over again and want to read or re-read the previous books, I know I did, but don’t worry about starting mid-series. This is an excellent example of a series you can jump in and out of without fears and an easily recommended series too. The author’s great writing and flare for entertainment really shine despite the qualms I had and no doubt readers will enjoy this offering just as much.
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4 thoughts on “Jacob’s Ladder by Z.A. Maxfield”
Great review, Kassa! I need to get with the program and start this series! I’m glad this can be read as a stand-alone. Maybe I’ll go to it first.
BTW – I’m 200 pages into The Passage by Justin Cronin. Very weird stuff, but definitely a page-turner! I can’t remember the last time I read a mainstream horror novel like this. I think you’ll really enjoy it!
Yes pick this up, it’s a really good starting point. Although, the first in the series St. Nacho’s is by far the best of the trio. St. Nacho’s was one of my favorite books of 2009… it’s really a great, great read.
I hear you re. The Passage!! I started it last night, not as far into it as you are but it kind of gripped me right away. I was afraid I’d really hate the kick ass female superhero since that’s been completely over used and abused in paranormal fiction but so far no qualms. I’m trying to stretch it out though.. savor the experience!
Oh, I see what you mean about the kick-ass female superhero girl. Kind of like Buffy, the girl from Firefly, the “terminator” in the Sarah Connor Chronicles on t.v.
I’m about 300 pages into it now, and it — while already good — gets a whole lot better in the later sections. I know you like futuristics, so I think you’ll have a blast reading this!
I hear you about stretching it out. I just wish I had the will-power to do so. I’ve been staying up way too late with it, unable to put it down, ha, ha! Can’t remember the last time a book made me do this (lose sleep) to this degree.