Jory Keyes leads a normal life as an architect’s assistant until he is witness to a brutal murder. Though initially saved by police Detective Sam Kage, Jory refuses protective custody – he has a life he loves that he won’t give up no matter who is after him. But Jory’s life is in real jeopardy, especially after he agrees to testify about what he saw.
While dealing with attempts on his life, well-meaning friends who want to see him happy, an overly protective boss, and a slowly unfolding mystery that is much more sinister than he could ever imagine, the young gay man finds himself getting involved with Sam, the conflicted and closeted detective. And though Jory may survive the danger, he may not survive a broken heart.
Rating: Narration: B-; Content: B-
Architect’s assistant Jory Keyes is young, gay, free, single and gorgeous – as we’re repeatedly reminded. You could probably make a drinking game out of it; how often Jory is called beautiful (by both men and women) and how many men are falling over themselves to sleep with him or have a relationship with him.
Anyway. When he witnesses a murder, Jory refuses to go into witness protection (is that actually allowed?) and then becomes involved with the gruff, hot detective assigned to the case – Sam Kage, who is strongly attracted to Jory from the get-go, but tries to ignore it because he’s straight (or so he thinks).
Matter of Time Vol. 1 was originally published as two books, and neither ends particularly happily for Jory and Sam. By the end of the second book, Sam has admitted he’s gay and has come out to his family and colleagues and is set for a future with Jory, until a last minute attempt on their lives railroads everything, leaves Jory seriously injured and Sam being assigned to an undercover task force to root out the bad guys. (Although to be fair, he chooses the assignment – and to leave Jory – to go undercover because he can’t afford to say no; after his partner was discovered to be on the take, Sam is under scrutiny and should it become known he was in a relationship with a witness, it would ruin his career. He also thinks it’s the best way to keep Jory safe – and although his mother calls him out on it, Sam nonetheless puts his career first). So to get the whole story of their on-again/off-again relationship, you need to pick up the second volume (books 3 & 4).
I enjoyed the story for the most part, once I’d got past that whole everyone-wants-Jory thing. He’s actually a great character; he’s compassionate and kind and funny, and wants to make the people around him happy – and yes, he doesn’t always act rationally and sometimes goes against good advice, but I sort of got where he was coming from. He’s young – just 22 when the story starts – and it was obvious he wanted to be his own person and live life on his own terms rather than be pushed around and pulled in all the directions people wanted him to go, even if they were doing it nicely. So yeah, he was annoying at times, but he’s such a compelling character that I ended up being completely charmed by him as much as it seems almost everyone else who’s ever read the book has been!
As for Sam. Having recently finished listening to the fabulous Adrien English series, I was prepared for another assholic, closeted cop who couldn’t admit he was in love with a guy, whose words and actions practically SHOUTED he was in love with the guy, who kept trying to keep the guy at a distance but at the same time couldn’t stay away from him. Sam’s a hot mess of sexy, growly and possessive; he manhandles Jory a lot (kept giving him fireman’s lifts and grabbing him by the neck – what was with all the neck-grabbing?) but there’s no doubt he really does care for Jory. It just takes him a while to work out what he truly wants and he hurts Jory while he does it.
But here’s one of the things that makes Jory such a great character; when he realises, in the first book/half, that he’s only a minor detour on the path Sam’s mapped out for himself and that Sam (like Jake Riordan before him) is set on doing the wife and family thing, Jory gets out. He isn’t going to hang around to be used or to be someone’s experiment; it kills him, but he’s got too much self-respect to just hang around and wait for whatever scraps Sam’s prepared to give him. Yes, he should probably have told Sam he was going, but Sam made it pretty clear to Jory where he stood, so I don’t blame him for getting out when he did and then getting on with his life.
Overall, the story meanders a lot and could really have done with some serious tightening up. There are lots of secondary characters and random people dropping in and out (mostly to marvel at Jory’s awesomeness) and the plotline that brings Jory and Sam together is largely absent until near the end. It’s referenced, but it’s very much in the background with little to no urgency about it until the final chapters, and honestly, a lot of the flab should have been cut out of the story, because some of the non-Jory-and-Sam stuff dragged quite a bit.
Paul Morey does a really good job with his vocal characterisations of both Sam and Jory, and handles the large cast of secondary characters really well; Sam has a suitably gravelly tone while Jory’s is lighter, and the essense of both their personalities comes through. His female voices are pretty good (just a softened tone without any massive variations in pitch) and the main supporting roles of Dane and Nick are easy to recognise. My one big issue with his narration was with the pacing, which was a bit on the slow side – but most of all, with his tendency to take long pauses between phrases and sentences, which was incredibly annoying. We’re talking pauses of two or three seconds; long enough to make you wonder if your player has suddenly shut off or run out of battery! I did get used to it eventually, and it hasn’t put me off picking up the next in the series, but the audio experience would have been nigh on perfection (like Jory!) without all the long pauses.