Sunday, March 2, 2014

In Your Eyes by L. Thomas-Cook

I approached reading In Your Eyes with a mild case of apprehension, as I was advised in advance about its subject matter.

In this story, we have two highly reputable and respected police detectives, Jay and Sonny. As partners and best friends, they perpetually have each others' backs. To the world, they are perfectly matched co-workers, but they are actually living an enormous lie. In the ultra-macho setting of law enforcement, these two cops are not merely roommates--they have become lovers.

Now, before you run away screaming and predetermine a negative evaluation of this story, let’s chat. Some would ask, “What’s the big deal? Zillions of people are coming out of the closet--celebrities, politicians, your next door neighbor. This has become perfectly common in prime time network television. Viewers are inundated with gay characters, I believe the goal being an attempt to expand the minds of the general public to become desensitized to the inclusion of gay family members and friends into mainstream television. It is a movement to bring normalcy to having a homosexual lifestyle. I know personally from just listening to young family members that kids are deciding at younger and younger ages that they are gay, and I believe that this is partially due to the overexposure of a gay lifestyle in television shows. They haven’t even had time to grow to learn who they are and about their sexuality, and they are deciding they are gay. I have deep concerns about that.

Some folks remain steadfast in their beliefs and Christian upbringing on this topic and say, “If God intended people to be gay, He would have put Adam and Joe in the Garden of Eden instead of Adam and Eve.” And I totally get this point of view. Therefore, I must admit that I tended to skip over some of the more “romantic” scenes between Jay and Sonny. I found myself wishing it was the same story only Jay and Suzie, co-workers trying to hide their relationship from the rest of the police force. That’s just me.

 I felt that Thomas-Cook’s story-weaving skills prevailed, however, as I was far more interested in the captivating narrative rather than what was happening in the sheets. Most of the amorous scenes were far more tastefully written than some that I have encountered in many mainstream novels.

It was intriguing to witness the complexity of Jay & Sonny’s relationship. From Sonny’s struggle to identify his sexuality to Jay’s insistence on their love remaining deeply undercover (sorry!), the reader can easily sympathize with their plight. No way would the guys on the force tolerate these two tough cops smooching and cuddling, loving and touching each other.

The book heightens my curiosity about whether being gay is 1) a choice, 2) learned behavior or 3) a genetic predisposition. It begs the question: If being gay is strictly a choice, why would anyone deliberately and knowingly opt for a lifestyle that potentially alienates families, rips open the seams of churches and denominational theology and even in this decade of alleged tolerance, guarantees disapproval and animosity from many?

In Your Eyes demonstrates the complications of Jay and Sonny’s precarious social and medical standing when Sonny is seriously injured in an accident. As merely “friends,” Jay has no legal rights to make medical decisions for Sonny. This story keeps the reader anxious to know the outcome, and whether or not you believe in gay rights, you want the best for these two sensitive, likeable guys.

One cannot deny that this story pulls the reader into a better understanding of what the gay community faces. And I believe that God loves everyone, but doesn’t necessarily love our behavior whether we are gay or straight. It isn’t my place to be judgmental because there is ultimately one Holy Judge in the end, and that isn’t me.

Book Description

Undercover detective Sonny Santini is handsome, sexy, and charming. Detective Jay Jamison is tall, blond, and sensible. Together they make a great team working in one of the most dangerous cities in Florida during the early 1980s. On duty and up against some ruthless criminals, they are loyal partners dedicated to each other. Off duty, that dedication also includes protecting a private secret about their true relationship. Jay, who for years was conflicted about his feelings for Sonny, one day finally finds the courage to tell the attractive man the truth. After that, they create a life that works for them and with that life comes a promise that no matter what, they will keep the love they share private and then...a near fatal accident destroys it all.

Sonny is the love of Jay's life but once Sonny comes out of the coma, he no longer has any memory of his life or connections to those around him. Jay stands by Sonny's side even through the agony of learning his partner has irreversible brain damage. Jay is left alone with no one to confide in and a choice to maintain the secret about him and Sonny guarding it even from Sonny.

How long can Jay keep up the charade? Sonny is vulnerable, reckless, and lost. He's confused over right and wrong and when a seductive woman sets her sights on Sonny and preys on his innocence, Jay is desperate to do what's best for his partner. But what is best? To keep the secret and risk losing Sonny or tell him the truth and risk losing even more?
Words from the Author

“I was born and raised in upstate New York. Growing up and being educated in New York was nice, but enough with the winters already. So I decided in 2011 to move down south along the Grand Strand of South Carolina. The ocean air and live oaks were inspiring and the old itch to write kicked in. Actually, the itch never left. I have been writing since forever but now that the family is grown, I have the time to really practice the craft. A big fan of suspense, cop shows, romance, and human rights, I decided to combine those things and created the Santini & Jamison series. I also enjoy the paranormal and have written some stories on that as well. Along with my writing, I am a nature photographer, animal lover, beach walker, and history nut. I love to write rich character driven stories with just the right amount of anguish, conflict, and edginess to keep it interesting.”

The Writing of In Your Eyes per L. Thomas-Cook

“I came up with the idea of two men, in love with one another, who would keep the secret of their love even as the odds mounted. People ask me why I chose that story line. Well, I have always been an advocate of people's rights and there is no right more precious than the right to love who you want the way you want. I am also big into anguish. In fact, some have called me the 'Queen of Anguish.' Well, can you think of better anguish than loving someone that many people in the world say is wrong? Plus, let's face it, two very hot men is a turn on and I don't want to compete with another woman. I don't know the psychological reasons why women of a (cough) certain age find gay men intriguing, I just know that many of the audience for shows like Queer As Folk and story lines in some of the soap operas have drawn a significant female population. Okay, I'm going to say it...there is a certain sexuality to it that is erotic. Add that in with a great love story and I think you've got a nice mix.
I don't just write gay love stories. I write suspense romance, psychological thrillers, and science fiction (if you put the paranormal in that category.) What can I say? I have a thing for murder, conflict, and ghosts. I also like dark, edgy stories that read like a roller coaster ride with unexpected turns and twists.”

More About L. Thomas-Cook

Regarding living here along the South Carolina Grand Strand she said, “Close to the ocean and the marsh, nature surrounds me. I truly believe it's as close to heaven as I can get on earth.

I live here with my oh so terrific husband, a man who must be a saint not to have killed me yet, and our best little friend, a dog named Sonny.”

Thomas-Cook is on the Board of Directors with the South Carolina Writers Workshop. She is also on the board of the Murrells Inlet Community Theatre, where she has been Stage Manager, Producer and Technical Director.

Visit the L. Thomas-Cook website at  and see In Your Eyes at
See you soon!
Mary Anne Benedetto
Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!

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