“He had Derek, and Derek loved him, and Lane believed that.”
In a word: Read the thing. This book picks up a few months after where The Good Boy left off, continuing Lane and Derek’s relationship and adding in even more drama with Lane’s family situation. Lane seems to be in a much better place now, but that’s not saying too much since he was in such an awful place for most of the last book. Lane has quite a few issues, and those issues aren’t going to go away just because Lane now has someone to love who loves him back. Lane is still on the road to recovery and, even with his mother interfering and throwing in roadblocks, he’s slowly getting to a place where he can feel comfortable with who he is as a person, and that it’s okay to just be Lane. Derek can’t do this for him, but he is a great help. A lot of this book deals with heavy subject matter, as Lane and Derek’s relationship definitely isn’t an easy one. Luckily, all the heavy angst is broken up by humorous scenes featuring a colourful cast of side characters to lighten things a bit. A colourful cast which includes everyone’s (but Derek) favourite foul-mouth macaw Mr. Zimmerman.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Trigger Warning: This book contains emotional abuse, mentions of past abuse, mentions of conversion therapy, mentions of suicide, spanking in a sexual context, anxiety, and kink.
The Naughty Boy: I bought the print version of The Boy Who Belonged, which includes part 1.5 of the The Boy series: a short story called Naughty Boy. I didn’t know about this beforehand, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Naughty Boy takes place during the events of The Good Boy, during Lane and Derek’s first date, but it concentrates mostly on Brin and Ferg. I wasn’t really interested in reading about them, I wasn’t a really big fan of Brin while reading The Good Boy, so I wasn’t planning on reading Naughty Boy at all. I only ended up reading it because I suddenly found myself with a copy of it. I was actually surprised by how much I liked it. The short starts with Brin dressing Lane up for his date with Derek (which is mentioned in The Good Boy) and Brin ends up discovering Lane’s scars from his time with Acton. Lane and Brin have actually become quite close friends, but Brin is worried that he isn’t a very good friend, and that all people think of him as just a shallow, flamboyant stereotype. The short is very Brin-centric and gives us more insight into his character and his relationship with Ferg. It ended up being a lot sweeter than I was expecting a story focused on Brin to be (which probably just proves Brin’s point, really) and I’m glad that I ended up reading it. It doesn’t feature Derek and Lane’s relationship much at all, Derek isn’t even in it, but it does explore Brin and Ferg’s relationship and Brin’s feelings about himself if that’s of any interest to anyone. I don’t think you’d miss out on much if you don’t read this before reading The Boy Who Belonged, but it’s bonus content worth reading. [available for purchase as an ebook from Loose Id, also included in the print version of The Boy Who Belonged]
The Series: This is the second (last? as of this writing there isn’t a continuation) book in Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock’s The Boy series. It takes place a few months after the events of the first book in the series, The Good Boy, and continues Derek and Lane’s story, focusing on their romantic relationship and Lane’s mother trying to use Lane in a bid to cut down on her prison sentence. There are a few mentions of events that happened in the first book, but it doesn’t go into great detail. Reading The Good Boy first would provide a better background for this book.
The Couple: Lane Moredock and Derek Fields are back as the main couple. They’ve been together about six months by now and, despite all their issues, they’re happy in their relationship. They both seem more comfortable now than they were in the first book, but they’ve still got a ways to go. Lane still struggles with anxiety and self-esteem issues, and that’s not something that’ll go away just because he has a loving partner. Derek, for his part, is definitely the more emotionally and mentally stable half of the relationship, but even he has his ups and downs. It’s not easy trying to make a living with only low-paying jobs, and that kind of stress affects a relationship. Add that to Lane’s emotional and mental issues and the sudden reappearance of his mother and it makes for a pretty stressful situation. Derek and Lane aren’t perfect, and their relationship isn’t perfect, and they did get their happy ending, but they still have to work for it. Lane is a lot better off than he was when he first met Derek, but he’s still an anxious mess a lot of the time. He’s working hard to build a better life for himself, but his mother trying to insert herself back into his life threatens to ruin whatever progress he’s made. No one says it outright but Lane’s mother is emotionally abusive, and her getting her claws into him would be the absolute worst thing for him. There’s also the issue of the age gap between Lane and Derek, which is about 17 years. It was never really a problem for the two of them at the beginning, but the more people comment on it, the more it becomes an issue. It certainly doesn’t help that Lane seems to need reassurance and coddling a lot of the time, and with his anxiety flaring up particularly high Derek feels like he needs to put his own needs aside in order to properly care for Lane. Their communication skills outside of kink negotiation need some work, but they do manage. At the end of the day, these two men love each other very much and they’re both willing to put in what’s required to make their relationship work.
The Story: The ending of The Good Boy saw Lane saved from going to prison by his father making a deal with the FBI, which ended up with both his parents behind bars. The trials to determine their sentences seem to have happened in the months that happened in between books. The end result seems to be that the Moredock parents are going to be in prison for quite a while. This suits Lane just fine. He can really only benefit from his parents being locked up at this point. This, of course, doesn’t really sit well with Laura Moredock, Lane’s mother, and she soon develops a scheme to get herself a reduced sentence. This part of the plot of The Boy Who Belonged really kicks off when Laura reaches out to Lane for the first time since her initial arrest to ask him to visit her in prison. Lane is conflicted about it, but he still craves his mother’s love and approval so he agrees to a visit. It doesn’t really end up surprising him that all Laura wants is to use him as a prop in a plot to gain sympathy from the general public in the hopes that it will shorten her time in prison. A lot of Lane’s anxiety in this book, anxiety that has apparently been getting easier to deal with over time, is due to his mother trying to claw her way back into Lane’s life. Or, more accurately, to try to reclaim her control over Lane’s life. Lane’s father isn’t in this book at all, so we don’t really get to see his take on things. As I understand it, the deal he made to keep Lane from prison means that he’ll be stuck in prison no matter what. Either way, he doesn’t have any contact with Lane at all during the story. I really can’t stand Laura Moredock, and I especially can’t stand the way that she tries to manipulate Lane to do her bidding. Her actions in this story really drive the point home that she doesn’t care much for Lane, if she does at all. She certainly doesn’t love him, especially not as a mother should love her son. Most of her interactions with Lane are spent with her tearing him down for his life choices that she thinks are ‘beneath’ her. And Lane, of course, just takes it all because his self-esteem is on life-support most of the time and a part of him still just wants his mother to love him and be proud of him. He eventually stands up to her at the end, after he’s jumped through most of her hoops, but really the entire situation is out of his hands. We ultimately don’t find out if Laura’s plans for a reduced sentence actually succeed (the story leaves that open ended), but we do know that it probably made some sort of impact on the general public’s consciousness and that it very well might throw Lane back into the spotlight. (Also it’s possibly left things open for another sequel WHICH I WOULD BE TOTALLY IN FAVOUR OF FYI.)
The Side Characters: This book is a direct sequel so a lot of the side characters that show up are ones we first met in the previous book. There are a few new faces; we see more of Laura Moredock this time around, and with her comes her team of PR people to deal with Lane. Though we don’t actually get to know them much, I don’t even remember their names. Along with his job at Taco Hub, Lane is a full—time college student, so there are a few people he routinely interacts with at both places. He’s friends or, at least, generally on good terms with his coworkers, though he doesn’t seem in any close at all to any of his classmates. These characters are a good way to judge how some of the public now see Lane. His classmates, more specifically a woman named Bronwyn Tabbart, recognize him as Landon Moredock, and treat him like an outcast. His coworkers just know him as Lane, and are more buddy-buddy with him, treating him like one of their own. It would’ve been interesting to get more scenes with them, especially in terms of Lane’s character development. Lane is no longer under investigation for his parents’ crimes so the FBI agents from the first book don’t make any appearances here. There are no more reporters, since the story seems to have died down some since the previous book. The side characters we all really remember from the first book definitely are back though. Derek’s mother Erin and sister Christy (and her new boyfriend Paul) aren’t really in the story as they all seem to be on vacation, only popping in now and again via phone calls and texts. Brin and Ferg have mostly the same roles they had in the first book. Brin seems to have gotten a bit more depth this time around (I don’t know whether or not this changes depending on whether you read Naughty Boy, which is told from Brin’s point of view). They have their own subplot involving Brin celebrating his birthday for the first time in years and Ferg trying to guess his age. Ferg is pretty much the straight man to Brin’s flamboyant personality, which brings in its own kind of humour. And I really like Brin’s interactions with Lane. My opinion of him has really gone up since I first read about him, which I suppose means that I’m just more used to him now. His being a really good friend to Lane really helped though. And I of course can’t forget to mention Andy and Mr Zimmerman, who also make a reappearance. Lane and Derek have adopted Andy, one of Christy’s rescue dogs, who has really come out of his shell and is much more settled now than he was when Lane first met him. Mr Zimmerman is a foul-mouthed macaw and also one of my favourite characters ever. He’s staying with Derek and Lane while Christy is on vacation (because no one else will take him in) and the scenes he has with Derek and Lane are hilarious. He is such an asshole, it’s great.
The Sex: I don’t wanna say that Derek and Lane’s sexual relationship hasn’t changed since the first book, since it sort of has. They still definitely do BDSM, and they both still enjoy it, but Lane’s anxiety and Derek’s new insecurities have forced them to take a good look at what they really want from each other. Lane still struggles with his desires (his mother certainly doesn’t help matters), and Derek doesn’t want to push him into things, so communication is a big must for both of them. They do work on this a bit when they’re together, and it seems to do them some good. There are a few sex scenes in this book and they aren’t carbon-copies of each other or the scenes in the previous book so it keeps things interesting. There is even some discussion of adding more serious BDSM implements into their scenes. So far it seems that they’ve mostly just done spanking and the puppy play and light bondage. In this one there is more bondage (though, having said that, the cover features a man we’re to assume is Lane tied up with rope, that doesn’t happen at all in the story), more spanking, and less puppy play even though the collar makes an appearance. New in this story is flogging, wax play, clamps, and a whole scene dedicated to sounding (and possibly overstimulation).
The Writing: This book is written pretty much the same way as The Good Boy. It’s great writing, very emotional and very easy to read (wording-wise, the subject matter can get fairly heavy). Also, like in the first book, there was no third-act breakup nonsense for which I am most delighted. There’s really nothing I can say beyond that I love the writing, I love the story, I love the characters, I love the tone.
[The Boy Who Belonged was published on December 17, 2013, by Loose Id LLC, it is available both in print and as an ebook]