My Dragon, My Knight

My Dragon, My Knight - John Inman Review originally posted at Sinfully.

4.5 stars

Danny and Jay meet when Danny shows up at Jay’s bar, The Clubhouse, with a swollen jaw. The two get to talking and Jay helps Danny tend to his jaw. Danny soon becomes a regular a few times a week, sometimes with his dog Jingles, sometimes with other injuries. Danny tells Jay about his abusive boyfriend, Joshua and the two men bond. Jay urging Danny to leave before it’s too late, Danny waffling between taking blame and agreeing he needs to get out. When Joshua threatens Danny’s beloved Jingles, it’s the last straw and Joshua runs, grudgingly accepting Jay’s help and offer of his spare room. The bond the two already had grows quickly and as the two fall in love, Joshua isn’t far from their minds. They hope it’s over, but we all know it isn’t.

There are some scenes of domestic violence when we are getting Danny’s POV. Joshua is a textbook abuser, striking out and later apologizing, while also making sure Danny knows that it was all his fault that Joshua hit him; controlling Danny’s every move. Danny knows he’s in trouble, but is convinced he needs to ride it out until he can afford to leave. These scenes are not easy to read. Trying to read between the lines in scenes with Joshua’s coworkers, the flashes of something more Danny sees in Joshua’s eyes makes it even worse. Jay’s POV is also included and we experience how he cares about Danny’s well-being from the first time they meet, his fear when Danny doesn’t show up at the bar, and how Danny is affecting him otherwise. Jay’s had a bad year as well and Danny is the first man to make him feel something in a while.

John Inman has a great touch when it comes to suspense/thrillers. From the start of the book, and even once Danny escapes you didn’t know what was coming next. As far as suspense stories go, this one is fairly straightforward: Is the abusive Joshua merely a bully who is content to take out his rage, anger and hate on the closest and easiest target or is there something more underneath it? Will he give up once Danny is gone? Does he have the potential to become a stalker, or worse?

Underneath the calm, beautiful almost dreamlike progression of Jay and Danny’s relationship, I could always feel an undercurrent of tension, waiting for the trouble I knew would come. Will it be a chance run-in or will it be something more sinister? Was he scared off by a show of support for Danny or is he just biding his time? I cringed when Jay underestimates Joshua’s need to possess Danny, even ignores a sign of possible trouble, but as weeks and weeks go by, even Danny is eventually lulled into believing that Joshua just let him go. Not much more I can say, you’ll have to read it yourself.

I’ve probably said it before, but John Inman’s writing puts you right in the setting and the characters’ frame of mind. My Dragon, My Knight is a story with a small cast of characters, mostly just Danny, Jay, Jay’s bouncer Ernie, and Joshua. The intimate setting, as most of it takes place in Jay’s bar or home, really adds to the tension as well.

As far as John Inman’s suspense/thriller stories go this one is not as intense or gruesome as some others, and might be good one to start with. That’s not to say that there aren’t adrenaline-pumping scenes or blood spilled, but there is a good amount of time that is focused on the relationship between Jay and Danny and the two have a lot of fun with each other. The pacing was perfect, with a sense of calm before that final storm and the ending bittersweet as Jay and Danny find their way forward. If you’ve read any of John Inman’s darker books, you know he isn’t afraid to knock off characters on the way to the heroes’ escape.

If you’re a fan of well-written suspense, don’t mind a bit of bloodshed and love a heart stopping, edge of your seat climax where you’re cheering for the villain to get what’s coming, this is one book you’ll want to pick up.