Ethan in Gold (Johnnies, #3) by Amy Lane
Length: 350 pages
Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants—comradeship and physical contact on trade—and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it.
Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping to care for his sister and trying to keep his beleaguered family from fraying at the edges. He’s had very little time to work on his confidence or his body for that matter. When Jonah meets Ethan, he doesn’t see the hurt child or the shamelessly slutty porn star. He sees a funny, sexy, confident man who—against the odds—seems to like Jonah in spite of his very ordinary, but difficult, life.
Sensing a kindred spirit and a common interest, Ethan thinks a platonic friendship with Jonah won’t violate his fair trade rules of sex and touch, but Jonah has different ideas. Ethan’s pretty sure his choice of jobs has stripped away all hope of a real relationship, but Jonah wants the whole package—the sexy man, the vulnerable boy, the charming companion who works so hard to make other people happy. Jonah wants to prove that underneath the damage Ethan has lived with all his life, he’s still gold with promise and the ability to love.
A long story that is worth taking your time with to savor the ups and downs of Evan’s and Jonah’s lives. Gobbling it all down at once may seem like a good idea, but may result in a Thanksgiving-gorge-like hangover.
This story runs somewhat parallel to Chase in Shadow and Dex in Blue, and while each story stands alone, the reader would be better served by reading them in order.
First, a warning: The Johnnies stories tend to run long because of the issues that are handled and the number of events that have to appear as the stories crossover. I still feel the stories are longer than strictly necessary, but I also understand why they're so long, and I enjoy them enough that the length doesn't bother me (except when I'm kept up reading when I should be going to bed).
Because much of the same content is covered in each story, it's commendable how Lane handles the plot points that overlap--hitting major points without rehashing everything, but yet giving the reader adequate information if they haven't read the previous novels. She also develops the events from different perspectives, turning events that may not have been as emotional into a poignant moment.
Ethan/Evan is my favorite of the boys so far, because of his reasons for getting into porn, his general personality, and his relationship with Jonah (the first to be outside the business). Plus, his need to be touched speaks deeply to me.
He's a likeable character and dips into some nerdy elements (or perhaps I should say different nerdy elements, since Kane and his reptiles were pretty nerdy!). The conversations about anime and manga was appreciated (although that element faded as the story went on), although I wasn’t familiar with the particular pieces that were mentioned, so they may have been faulty.
Evan’s story, like most of the Johnnies boys, is a tough one (although none really compares to Chase’s). He had a crappy childhood, and although he’s tough, and he recognizes that, he still has a low self-esteem. Or more like he doesn’t want to bother/sully the people around him whom he loves. It’s commendable, although many readers (like Jonah) will want to smack him for it.
And of course Jonah has his own struggles to handle as well, both familial and in courting the stubborn Ethan. These are two sweet boys who grow together and together overcome great obstacles.
Another fantastic Johnnies’ tale.