Review: The Way Things Are by AJ Thomas


My rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ plus.


I loved this book. I loved this book for more than one reason.

With an author I don’t know or haven’t read before, there is always a few moments of trepidation before opening to the first page. I want to fall into a well-told story that I can’t put down, that lingers with me even after I’ve closed the book, or the Kindle, whatever. The characters and their emotions, their motivations, their backgrounds and back story, I want to fall in love with it all.

So, I got my wish, my heart’s desire, in The Way Things Are.

I loved that from the first paragraph, I was hooked by the author’s style. The level of realistic, gritty detail and the control of that detail astounded me. Sometimes I skip because some authors use internal details as filler rather than showing what kind of character the MC is, and I found AJ Thomas’ level of detail fantastic to read. It’s tough with two male characters to make them sound like separate people, but with this author, I never had to double check who’s POV I was in or re-read a line to make sure of where I was.

Patrick Connelly works as a longshoreman in Seattle, working the crane high above the port stacking huge canisters. Nothing can touch him up there, and he’s good at what he does. His biggest concern is his son Jay. They moved across country to get away from Patrick’s ex-wife and all the trouble she gave them. Though Patrick should be bitter and resentful, he’s a decent man. Seattle is where he grew up, and he hopes he and Jay can make a home there.

Jay, however, is a troubled teenager, with a long history of juvenile arrests for graffiti. He’s also a talented artist, addicted to his art in order to escape his pain.

At the end of his shift, Patrick learns that Jay has been arrested for the first time in Seattle. On his way to his truck to get to his son, he stops an assault in progress, a young Asian man about to be attacked by three men. Patrick calls 911, comes to the young man’s defense and beats down the three guys. This means since he’s left standing with the gun he took off one of the men, he ends up getting arrested, too.

Ken Atkins is the juvenile probation officer newly assigned to Jay. Though on the outside he is always professional and excels at his job, on the inside he is struggling to control his attraction to Jay’s smoking hot dad, Patrick. Ken’s brother, a policeman, is assigned to investigate the human trafficking and the dead bodies that have been turning up in the canisters that Patrick loads and unloads. He believes the young man Patrick saved escaped from one of the canisters.

Ken and Patrick give in to their attraction in a bar early on and immediately regret it.

I have a fondness for stories and couples who start out that way, and I believe it makes for good dramatic tension. Can they work it out, is it worth it?

But Patrick and Ken are forced to work together for Jay’s sake, and they’re both good men struggling with their pasts. It’s so easy to root for them.

While they are fighting to save Jay, learning and dealing with each other, the plates are going up in the air. Will Ken lose his job and/or face criminal charges because of an affair with Patrick? Together can they save Jay? And who is behind the human trafficking coming in from Asia and Vancouver? Because not knowing the answer to that question puts them all in danger…

Wow. Just wow. Now I need to get me some more AJ Thomas 😀

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