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JJ Harper: Reunion Series

I tried this series because I was in the mood for a series and I was hoping for a light read, but what I got was a halfway decent plot executed poorly.

J J Harper--Reunion - Book 1Reunion

When Ryan and Nico were in high school, Nico disappeared. With their 10-year high school reunion coming up, they both plan to see if there’s anything worth salvaging. Their reunion comes a bit early when Ryan, who is now a police officer, arrives on the scene of an alley way attack to find Nico is the victim. Once Nico is discharged from the hospital, Ryan takes him back to his place. They go through this and that, revealing pieces of their missing years to each other; particularly of note is the fact that Nico’s parents disowned him when he came out to them. But before anything is really settled between them, they can’t keep their hands off each other.

There’s a lot of sex, most of which I skipped.

Ryan left to go to the Army after Nico disappeared. He was only leaving his memories behind, because his only family, his mother, had moved out of the town. And I can barely recall this without rolling my eyes–Ryan’s mother moved not because he was gay, which would be stupid enough, but because he was dumped by Nico. I don’t understand that logic at all. I don’t understand how that is supposed to make me feel for these characters; it’s the most ridiculous thing. Nico’s father killed himself and his mother is now a drunk, but she still thinks that he’s a sinner and he’s going to go to hell and he should have not come back to the town–this I can believe.

Anyway, they run into this guy Marcus who was geek back in high school, now he’s a very attractive man. Not that they said that he wasn’t attractive before, but Harper makes sure to mention that his body has filled out nicely. He’s also married to a man named Tate. Even though they weren’t close in high school, thinking he’s a happy gay man, Ryan and Nico invited Marcus and his partner out to dinner. I imagine it’s nice to know someone who might see the world as you do. It was nice for a minute, but when Tate cancelled because of a migraine, I knew immediately that he was going to be someone that Nico knew from his past.

And this is where the first book ends. Sadly the best part about this book was when Nico said his former bully/present attacker looked like a capital D. Overall, this book was rather unbelievable, but not terrible, so I continued.

J J Harper--Reunion - Book 2 - ReunitedReunited

So what I thought was going to happen did happen. Tate, is the person I though he was going to be. That was too easy. What wasn’t easy was some of the conversations that went on at the beginning of this book. At the reunion, Ryan and Nico were seat with Marcus, Tate, and some people they got reacquainted with earlier. So, they’re all talking and then they started getting really personal, like about deNico imagining Ryan naked when they were still in high school and how when he actually saw him it was so much better than his imagination. Who talks about that kind of stuff? Well I guess people do but that’s just so… I don’t want to hear anybody talk about that, especially people I haven’t seen for 10 years.

Okay, so right after he says that, a woman, Melody, starts talking about how she heard some gossip about one of Nico’s attackers. She goes on to say that she knows what she heard is true because her sister is married to the guy. The nonsense continues as she divulges that her sister was being pushed around and treated badly by the guy, but the fact that he attacked Nico, who the sister used to have a crush on, was the last straw for her and she left him. What kind of convoluted BS is that? And why is she telling her sister’s business?! That is just too much information being shared between these people who haven’t seen each other in 10 years. Honestly, I don’t understand how these people who either have never met or haven’t seen each other in 10 years talk about their sex and family life to such extents like it’s okay. I don’t think sex should be all hush-hush, but I seriously don’t think where the first time somebody had sex was or that someone who wasn’t at the table was a victim of domestic abuse is appropriate dinner conversation between strangers. What is wrong with people?

The conversation moves on and now I realize they’re playing something like The Newlywed Game because Marcus and Tate get asked the same question–when exactly did that happen?! Anyway, Tate starts describing something that turns out not to be his and Marcus’s first time, it was Tate’s first time with somebody I suppose, but not Marcus. But this is why you don’t talk about this kind of stuff with people. Seriously, this was just bad, just bad and gross and I don’t know why I kept reading. It was nothing but nonsense.

On top of all of that, they are at their high school reunion and they are horny and Ryan he says he would really like to be all over Nico–who’s not about to deny him–but, as a police officer, bathroom trysts really aren’t a good idea. Barely a conversation passes and then he gives in and basically says, “eff it, let’s go.” I have a serious problem with people abandoning their morals and principles and just the things that they set up for themselves for somebody else and for that person to tempt them away from such things. It’s not sexy or cute. It’s rather disturbing, to be perfectly honest.

And this is where it gets stupid–well, it’s really too late for that, but anyway…  Nico ran into his ex-something of another, Ethan, who is now Tate, who is now married to Marcus, who is the former schoolmate of Ryan and Nico. This is where we are. Before the reunion the encrypted files on Nico’s archive–never made clear if they were on his computer or the cloud–had somehow been decrypted and Ryan saw pictures of Ethan. Nico notified his tech guy, Cole. So this is strange and Ethan resurfacing is strange, okay whatever. Days later Nico gets two text messages with images of himself and Ethan/Tate. His thoughts are interrupted by a phone call from Troy, co-owner of his gym franchise, before he can do anything about those pictures. I guess it slipped his mind because he never said anything to Ryan about it. I’m just playing along at this point.

Then he gets call from an unknown number and it’s just breathing. Next day he gets six calls and two voicemails from this unknown number with somebody saying “ready” as if they are asking a question. With everything going on, he tells Troy to make sure that he gets their computers checked. The story seems to have forgotten that Ryan is a cop. I just don’t understand why they are dismissing this–there’s too much stuff going on that you just can’t ignore. I don’t understand, these are the stupid decisions that writers have their characters make in order to lead them to whatever situation the writer is trying to achieve. Rather than making maintaining their competence and allowing them to skillfully navigate their circumstances, they make them make stupid decisions to take the easy way out and avoid having to actually write a story.

Things happen and Nico needs to call his lawyer, Mason, but his lawyer ends up calling him and he tells him that he spoke to Cole and the whole decryption thing is not a fluke. Mason says that he’s going to get his cousin–a tech and security guru or something–to look into it. And I wondered if his cousin was going to end up being Marcus. This was the first moment of intrigue in the entire story so far.

If I could just detour for a moment: For real, what is the deal with penises standing proud? I don’t get it, that does not conjure up hotness or sexiness. It’s not even vaguely appealing.

Since there’s so much going on, Nico decides he would rather settle out of court with his attackers and his lawyer agrees. However, the lawyer said that even if they went to court they would have won, but the attackers wouldn’t have gotten any jail time, but with this way they might get a few raps on the knuckles and a hefty fine and he supposed that should be enough. A slap on the wrist and paying a fine for assaulting and raping someone and that should be enough? Harper is really bad at this if she can’t think of some other way to put this plotline to rest. I think she knows and tries to smooth out the wrinkles by having Nico decide that he wants a few stipulations added in order to settle. He wants his attackers to be part of an outreach program for runaway LGBTQ kids. He wants them enrolled in an anger management class. And he wants a full written apology with photographs in the local paper and restraining order. Nice, but I see it for exactly what it is.

And there’s still the stalking/hacking threat to deal with. Goodness, this story… There are so many things that make no sense, especially with Ryan being a cop. So many stupid decisions. Why do writers sabotage their stories like this? Is it due to a limited imagination or is it just laziness? Or are they underestimating the readers? Well, maybe that’s not the case; this second book is a 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon. I’m not expecting the next great American novel, but at least have a solid story. I mean, the writing doesn’t even have to be all that great–see Aimee Nicole Walker–but don’t make your characters stupid. ANW’s writing is really flat, but the story is good. I don’t agree with everything, but at least most of the decisions the characters make aren’t completely contrary to what the story has been trying to convince the reader of in regards to what they are to understand of the character’s personality, their thought process, and how they function.

Oh, and a lot of sex. So much sex. Just sex, all the time. And when one of them hints at more sex, the other will say something like, “No. my ass has had too much pounding” or “It’s tired” or whatever, but they’re right back at it soon enough. There’s just too much sex in the story–it’s making me tired.

J J Harper--Reunion - Book 3 - ElysiumElysium

So, at the end of the last book, they survived the first month of their reunion. Now they’ve moved out of Ryan’s place and into Nico’s. Whereas Reunited was about Nico’s past coming back to bite him, this is about Ryan’s.

I understand I’m reading a story about their lives and that includes intimate things, but I am kind of grossed out by the way they talk about sex and how they talk during sex. It’s strange, but I keep cringing while mumbling TMI…TMI.

Nico heads back to work trying to get back into the swing of things. Ryan comes to visit him at the gym and Nico introduces Ryan to his assistant Mel. She’s really happy about them, she thinks they’re cute, happy that they found each other yada yada yada. She says to Nico that he deserves to be happy and he should forgive himself and then she turns around and says to Ryan that he looks like he’s been living with a lot of demons and he should be happy now too. That just seems strange to me because if it was so apparent, I would think that it would have or should have already been mentioned. Like, “he was handsome, but he looked hunted” or “he was handsome, but he looked troubled.” But no, he’s just handsome, just gorgeous, that’s all. And here comes this woman who’s seen him for the first time and says that he looks like he’s got demons. Where is that coming from?

Too much sex. Just too much sex. But at least the author has figured out how to do the turn the page and then it’s over routine, so we don’t into full detail about every time. Just a little hint that it’s going to happen and then skipping on.

They’ve been through the no more secrets thing so many times and it just keeps coming. Why the BS? I don’t understand what the purpose of all of this is in the story. There are ways to instigate drama that make sense and that don’t require a writer to keep returning to the same well. None of the reasons they’re still holding onto secrets make sense.

I’ve come to believe that Ryan had to be a sucky cop, like seriously, there’s no way he was any good when he keeps making stupid decisions. Same for the Army. How did he survive the way he is? He can’t make good decisions for jack. Also, he’s immature. After he gets half the story on something involving Nico, he dashes off on his motorcycle without protective gear at 120 mph. Sure, put yourself in danger why don’t you? How can you have a relationship when all you do is run away? They were supposed to stop with all the secrets–these guys are almost 30, why are they having these issues? Well, actually, Nico’s calmed down and has managed to get over the whole does he love me with a large and looming question mark, but Ryan is constantly in doubt, he can’t be secure in anything for any significant length of time. He is just one step away from running away all the time. This is like a dime-store soap opera.

I have no idea what this author thinks about hacking, computer networking, listening devices, and other such things, but the lawyer’s cousin doesn’t even know where Ryan and he’s instructing one of his people to do a sweep of the place. How do you sweep a place when you have no idea of its location? So this is supposed to be a remote sweep… Is he employing satellites or something? I’m just disappointed, not entirely surprised, but truly disappointed with how lazy this writer is with integrating tech into the story.

Anyway, Ryan has to go off to do something for the Army even though he was supposed to be done with it all and it’s all hush-hush, you know, high security hush-hush and he tells Nico about it and Nico says he won’t talk about it to anyone because he understands that Ryan could get arrested for speaking about it. So while Nico’s working things out to help with the implausible remote sweep, he tells his lawyer and his cousin that he’ll explain the whole thing to them when they arrive the next day. I’m sure he just said that he wouldn’t. But there he went, spilling all of Ryan’s business, all of the military secrets. How do you just go and do that? How do you… You can’t do that! You can’t. And unless the cousin tracked Ryan’s phone’s GPS, how the heck does he know that he’s in some rehab clinic in the mountains? The remote sweep of course.

During some vague passage of time, some craziness happened, but they all escaped and then everyone was safe and sound. Life went on and then they got married and adopted a kid. The end. Why does everyone want a kid?

I’ve really got to stop doing this sort of thing to myself. I have to learn to say no when I see the red flags at the beginning. The down side of a reading coma.

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