Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

Trailer Trash
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 plus stars

Fuck you, and fuck David Lee Roth too."

This was my first Marie Sexton. And I loved it.

Closing the book, I was filled with '80's nostalgia and craving a cigarette (and I don't even smoke). Sexton captured perfectly the land of 1980's high school in small, rural, white America (trust me I know - though I have to concede my school wasn't to the extreme of Walter Warren High). From the swatch watches, Sony Walkmans, Converse, Levi's 501's, Benetton sweaters, Depeche Mode references, the rise of MTV and declarations of love via mixed tape - I remember it all. A school experience without internet and cell phones and how walking was your only option if you found yourself stranded without coins for a payphone. I was never a kid to sneak a smoke during lunch period behind the gym (or literally across the tracks at my high school), but those kids are memorable too. And though I was only 8 in 1987, I do remember AIDs being a constant headline. I probably didn't fully grasp the impact of the disease until years later, but I remember its ever looming presence in the news and awkward Health class lessons. No one knew anyone with AIDs, but we were all being scared stiff that it spread like cooties and was just as socially alienating. I'm sure those in high school during that period of time probably have a clearer recollection, but I can attest elementary school at that time wasn't spared ignorance to it.

For me, Ms. Sexton captured vividly a lot I could relate to in this book and I was as fond of the trip down memory lane as I would be reminiscing with an old friend. However, she also captured very well a lot I couldn't relate to, but in the recesses of my mind was well aware of even at that age.

Poverty. Despair. Prejudice. Though these are often themes in coming-of-age stories, Sexton conveys them with a raw brutality more comparable to What's Eating Gilbert Grape than a John Hughes film. After stating that, I would like to add that there is an HEA in this and despite the somber mood threaded through most of it, hope lingers amidst the pages as well.

For anyone wondering this is not a GFY, (view spoiler). It is a coming-of-age. A friends (who by the rules of the social jungle should be enemies) to lovers tale despite all odds being against them. This is not a tear-jerker, though an incident in the book blind-sided me as it did Nate and Cody, but if anything felt genuine to those stark moments in life.

This is a five star story, but it is getting four from me. I am going to admit to doing something that I don't normally do - I took away a star because of the editing. I paid full price for this book on the day it came out. This is a professionally published work. And yet as I read it, I highlighted every few pages grammatical errors, typos, malapropisms and two instances where a word was simply missing from a sentence. It took me two days to read this book with a full schedule of real life; an editor should have proof read this in a matter of hours - if they actually did, they should be ashamed, because there are some sloppy errors that were allowed to slide to print. Though this is a Riptide published book, this is a trend not contained to their books. I have purchased a number of books - coincidently (???) from primarily M/M publishers - and have sat and highlighted all the errors an editor missed throughout them. I am not understanding why sloppy editing or lack of proof reading is an upward trend in this genre currently. Personally I haven't had the same experience with books in other genres, though maybe it is everywhere. Sexton's book I greatly enjoyed and for that would easily give the story itself 4.5 to 5 stars. But I was so annoyed at reading "is" where "in" should have been and sentences such as: "Anything you've craving?" (location 4093) or "He said I can drive it Iowa." (location 4366) that it has propelled me to this little rant. The errors weren't glaring and didn't disturb the conveying of the story, they are trite in the grand scheme of this book - but still, ... professionally published book.

All in all this is a five star story which I wish the editing of it had allowed me to give it. Typos aside, I highly recommend this book. Especially to fellow Generation X readers who won't miss the cultural references of growing up in the '80's.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3)Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As gratifying as I hoped it would be and well worth the wait.

Kings Rising Fulfilling a Trilogy

Picking up exactly where Pacat left us in Captive Prince: Volume Two at Ravenel, we are swept into the whirlwind of action, intrigue and romance at a stallion’s pace. Feeding into his archetype, Damen is as gallant as ever as he continues to trust blindly the ever shifting equation of Laurent. Readers better make sure they are secure in the saddle as the pages don’t just engage in this installment – they grip. I read this in a frenzy - heart pounding, butterflies fluttering - and after closing the last page, I had to come down from the “high” of this epic ending for a few days.

Indeed this might be the most successful third installment in a trilogy that I have ever read. When I read Captive Prince: Volume One, I wasn’t sure this was going to be “my thing” – but it’s ending made it appear that all the pieces to the puzzle were starting to fit together. It grabbed me. So I grabbed Volume II. Volume II then rearranged all the pieces on the board making me realize that the puzzle in Volume I was not the picture I had thought. Kings Rising stepped in and went and rearranged all the pieces in Volume I, AGAIN, that I thought Volume II had made fit, into one cohesive beautiful work. Leaving me in awe for being so blind from the start.

After I closed Kings Rising, I went and reread Volume I as if seeing it for the first time – seriously, after finishing Kings Rising, Volumes I & II became new books to me. As if I had originally read them in the dark and someone finally turned on the light.

And a big surprise - I laughed while reading this third and final installment more than I expected. The cheeky humor is wittiness at its best. I raged at the villains. I longed for sweet kisses and gentle understanding for our heroes. I even sniffled at the epic man-pain. And when it all came together to a most fitting close, I felt the satisfaction of a battle long won.

I had questioned for the past three years, if during this wait for the third installment, my imagination would ruin it with my own head canons or if I had set my expectations too high for Pacat to ever meet. I didn’t. Kings Rising is a success.

The Captive Prince Series – Beautiful by Design

Captive Prince is a trilogy in perfect symmetry. In symmetry from start to finish across the map of their fictional world. In symmetry in story arc and character fate. In symmetry in design and layout – even much of the wording is reflected back on itself. The first half of the trilogy is like looking at the negative of a photograph, while the second half is the photograph coming into focus.

Pacat masters the power of the prose throughout the trilogy. Pacat’s talent at multi-layering meaning in the prose continues to be exquisite. Sentence structure kept simple, word choice and phrasing deliberate. There is not a single line that is boring or mundane. Every word is relevant and wording is key. And as I mentioned in my review of the first two volumes – watch for the symbols in objects and color. The novel details are threaded through all three volumes.

An underlying commentary is just beneath the surface. This is the story about the victim of abuse - and also about a man who was victim to his ignorance of it. This is a story about two princes who must fight for their thrones to become the kings they were born to be. This is a story about learning to trust based on instinct rather than deed and that maybe what is least trustworthy are your own perceptions. And threaded through it all is a subtle commentary on what it means to be a slave - literally and figuratively. That being free of restraints doesn’t mean we are free of constraints. And that despite the free agents we perceive ourselves to be, the only choices we really have are what we are slaves to. For whether we be kings or queens or anything in between we are all slaves to our hearts.

This series is not without its flaws as none of us are, but the brilliance of the work as a whole outshines any imperfections. To the readers who own the original Gatto books: Jokaste’s hair color is …?

I don’t know how many times I will reread these books over my life-time. But I do know that I will reread them. They will be entertaining every time. And I won’t be surprised in the least if in future reads I continue to fit another piece into the puzzle that I didn’t even know I was missing.

C.S. Pacat

The Captive Prince series documents something readers not often get to witness. It documents the evolution of a writer and the launching of their career. C.S. Pacat (formerly S.U. Pacat, formerly Freece) started posting chapters of a slave fic as a free work in progress on LiveJournal. She started writing as many of us do – alone and inspired, on our own dime. As her audience grew, she interacted with them and her skill grew with the work. Then Penguin handed her a paycheck and a support team and her work became pristine. The opening chapters of Volume I will always be not quite as polished as the closing ones of Kings Rising. And I appreciate that. Over the course of this series, Pacat wrote alone, wrote with an audience and wrote professionally. For those who stumbled upon this WIP on LiveJournal a number of years ago, it’s not just Damen and Laurent’s end point that we are in awe of – it is Pacat’s as well.

For many of us with LiveJournal or Archive of Own accounts and the like, Pacat’s success tied with Captive Prince’s represents hope, achievement and recognition. Many of us who have LJ and AO3 accounts have backgrounds in fandom – which is often perceived as a tawdry start, even if our original works demonstrate otherwise. Pacat started as one of us. Once in awhile online writing communities need a shout out. Her acknowledgment of her roots with us and continued interaction with fans that she cultivated from the start to fans that are just now finding the series, is one of her most endearing attributes (besides this totally awesome series she wrote).

With the Captive Prince series fast becoming a cult classic, my biggest fear for her currently is that she will never out do herself. Is it possible for her to continue to draft works as profound as this series? Does she need to or is the fan base secure? She has achieved writing a series as smart as her inspiration to do so – Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings. Ending it here at the zenith of the series might be a smart move, but maybe capitalizing on the momentum already established with the series and – like Dunnett – adding more volumes to this verse might be the smarter way to cut it. Either way do not fear, it has already been revealed that three short stories from the Captive Prince world will be released – so at least not all is said and done.

The symmetry that ruled both their lives had brought them here, at the end of their journey.

Kings Rising was the very first book added to my “TBR” when I joined Goodreads in 2013. Captive Prince Volume I was my first ever book featuring an M/M pairing. The series introduced me to a whole genre – and I’ve gained much from that genre - friends, books, hours spent in a blissful escape and many more spent discussing them. I thank Ms. Pacat for this stunning series and the creation of two heroes I adore. Though, it is Damen that I would ride off into the sunset with any day, it is Laurent who deserves him.

For more discussion, digression, analysis and fangirling/fanboying of the Captive Prince Series, Please join us in the Goodreads group: Captivated.











Monday, January 18, 2016

In Allegiance by Kate Islay

In Allegiance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everyone in this city seemed to be conspiring against one other.

I read the original version of this story on Live Journal three years ago and found it to be a solid four stars in its unedited state. In fact, second to Captive Prince, it was probably one of the best crafted original works posted on Live Journal. I think if Ms. Islay had pulled it to publish as it was, it would have done just fine. However, when she released this new version, she stated she had wanted to make some “significant revisions that (I think) bring out the romance more, as well as flesh out some character and plot points. I've also added an epilogue, for a bit more closure.” And I have to say she delivered on all fronts, producing a very fulfilling novel that is contextually the same while adding depth to the plot, characters and romance.

Revolving around the central theme of choices – and the freedom to make them no matter how confined your circumstance in life may be, Islay provides fully fleshed out main as well as tertiary characters that are laid out on a political game board. Everyone hides their intentions while playing their roles. At the center is Mathias, Commander of the Cortesian Army and Reve, a prince conquered and gifted as a pleasure slave to Mathias by the Cortesian King. For me, Mathias is the star of the show. He does not embrace the snake pit atmosphere of the royal court, but he knows how to play the game. Unwilling to engage in court antics, but adept at deflecting them. However, as the empire expands the game begins to change and his loyalty to the king is challenged by his loyalty to the people and to make matters more complicated for him, he must solve the mystery of a rebellion brewing in the North and a growing attraction to his newly acquired northern slave prince. He navigates the field with a level head, a composed fa├žade and a sharp mind.

Reve struggles with his new submissive role, the fact that his father bargained his life as a political pawn and his reluctant admiration of Mathias. Brash, prideful, but aware of his faults and frustrated by his change in circumstances, Reve vacillates between playing his subservient role (and begrudgingly acknowledging the leniency he is given by Mathias) and clinging to his pride. He emerges as an unwitting player on the board who, despite his status as a slave, is in essence seen as a powerful threat by the empire or an asset to oppose it. He comes to realize he must trust someone, if not himself to choose wisely.

There is a lot of plotting in this story. So much so that I hesitate to toss it in the category of “M/M Romance”, but if anything it features a love story between two men that is as understated as it is integral to the plot. I dare describe it as a well contrived historical AU centered around political machinations with a number of wild card players on the fringe, a mystery circling it’s center and at it’s core - every possible outcome for all involved hinges on whether Mathias and Reve’s affection is merely duty bound or more. A number of chapters even feature Mathias and Reve apart, but Islay keeps their dynamic and influence on the unfolding story remaining as they try to calculate each other’s motives and moves from a distance, clinging to the hope they haven’t misjudged or misplaced their trust.

Islay uses not only Mathias and Reve’s alternating POV to tell the story, but also that of an unbiased narrator, Luca, who is playing at his own game on the board as well while keeping a careful eye on all of it’s players. Supporting cast are fleshed out just as fully as the protagonists, two of which stand out – Reve’s father, who struggles with the choices he has been faced with to sacrifice his sons for his people and later ultimately one son for a slave so another son may succeed, and King Arturus, whose descent into obsessive insanity gives depth to the motivations of his villainy. The world building from the mountains of the North to the countryside of the south, the court life of Cortesa and the subtle societal homophobia of the times are adeptly painted.

The added depth of characterizations, a steady pace of action, fleshed out plot holes and a much more satisfying ending with an HEA over an HFN makes this story well worth purchasing, though I am happy I got to watch it evolve from it’s free version on Live Journal. Recommended to readers who enjoy a well crafted story to accompany their romance.







Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Subs Club by J.A. Rock

The Subs Club by J.A. Rock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis:

A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.

A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.

But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.

Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.

I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.

—Dave


Review:

This Tumblr right here collects stories of all of the terrible Dominants out there that give Dom/mes everywhere a bad name.



On the surface it’s a hilarious collection of convos gone wrong with faux Doms, but beneath the surface it’s a pretty miserable affair. People are such assholes.



So this kind of stuff is exactly why the MC in The Subs Club, David, sets up a website where subs can rate the Doms they played with, and call out those who  didn’t play safe. Ever since one of David’s close friends died during a breath play scene in a club, he and his other friends are trying to find a balance between making BDSM into a safety school special and playing as wild and vicariously as they'd like. Complicating factor is that David’s ability to trust Doms died along with his friend. His favorite club deciding to give the Dom that he holds accountable for that death a second chance, doesn’t help either. So yeah, He’s pretty much through with all of it. Except he can’t help but notice...

PORNSTACHE.



“The less sophisticated parts of my brain had latched on to the least appropriate, most obviously heterosexual person in this club and had decided it was this man’s destiny to bend me over and scrub my asshole with that mustache.” 

Pornstache doesn’t have much eye for David though. So it’s a good thing that the "Burt Reynolds starring in Boogie Nights" guy has a FetLife profile. In it he boldly states that only fit boys under 30 need apply (when Pornstache is not either of those things!). On top of that, when David contacts the man he also has the bloody nerve to lowercase david's name in his reply, and requests that he wears tighty whities upon their first meeting. It takes a whole lot less to lure out David’s recalcitrant side...

So this book is a lot of things bundled into one, and my rating reflects that. David’s narrative is absolutely the most brilliant thing about The Subs Club. He’s witty, sarcastic, hilarious, and so very quote-worthy. I couldn’t stop snickering!

I was digging the long-sleeved polo, jeans, and loafers in a yeah, daddy kind of way. He caught me staring, and his pornstache twitched slightly. 

As interesting as David’s sessions with Pornstache are though, the underlying plot-line of what it means to be part of the BDSM scene, and the handling of aspects like privacy, trust, social judgment, finding the D to your S and vice versa, and SSC play are equally important.

I think J.A. Rock did an awesome job exploring these aspects. The death of David's friend could easily have headed into melodramatic territory, but thankfully it never did. Not once did she climb on a soapbox to become all preachy through her characters (there’s little I hate more!). Instead she incorporated various concerns and dilemmas in the plot in an entirely natural manner, making The Subs Club into so much more than your 'hot little BDSM read next door' by yet another author who brings out the whips and cuffs, but is entirely lost on the essence of BDSM.

Now for David’s attraction to Pornstache, and him embarking on a domestic discipline adventure with the man: their scenes were neatly woven through the aforementioned bigger picture. I was excited to find out if and how David and his new Sir would hit it off. Not even because of the hot spanking and DD scenes (with a dash of humiliation, mmm, my fave!), but mostly because both David and Pornstache were ‘real’ personalities with their own insecurities and hang-ups.

David wasn’t the ‘Imma sub and a sub is all I am’ type I’ve grown weary of. The same goes for Pornstache, who wasn’t portrayed as the Alpha male Dom that the guys that are featured on the 'Too Dom For You' Tumblr sadly seem to think is the ideal. Perhaps it’s sad that J.A. Rock's characterization made me buzz with enthusiasm. After all, I wouldn't have been this impressed if the MM genre didn't appear to feature stereotypes as a rule. But, yeah, a tiny example:

I studied him. “I’m gonna go with yes. But you’ve said before that marriage is the last refuge of the insecure. So I’m gonna say... married to a nice woman before you realized you liked guys? Messy divorce?” (...)
“Actually, my first boyfriend was in high school.” 

And I’d totally expected, like the MC, yet another guy with a dramatic past.:)

In that regard, I also loved the diverse group of friends and how they didn't drift in and out of the story for the sake of the plot only. The (too often overlooked) small talk between David and his friends sparkled and entertained. As did the general descriptions of people (besides the descriptions of the obviously hot Pornstache, who totally got my motor running. Sue me!:p). Here we have a writer who knows how to write!

Vietnamese, 5’5, hairless, and so thin he could have worn a wedding ring as a belt, Ricky was new to the scene.

But hey, since writing gushing and raving ~~***~~~~ FIVE SIZZLING WIZZLING BEAUTIFULLY SUBMISSIVE ENEMA STARS ~~***~~~~ reviews doesn't come naturally to me, I'd like to end this review on a more glum note, by sharing a few more depressing FetLife encounters. You're welcome!








Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dark Economy by M. Keedwell

Dark Economy by M. Keedwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Love can’t stay buried.

Medical student Cadell Meredith has been known to acquire “volunteers” from the occasional pauper’s grave in order to improve his surgical skills. While the legality of this practice is a bit murky, he wouldn’t go so far as to call it out and out robbery.

His latest acquisition, however, is different. The body on his table was obviously healthy, wealthy—and murdered. Cadell feels compelled to seek justice for the dead man, but while dissection comes naturally to him, crime investigation is unfamiliar territory.

Furthermore, he’s caught the attention of one of those new police officers, Blaine Breton. A handsome, sentimental fool who insists Cadell is a criminal. A criminal! Cadell is the first to admit he’s no saint, but he’s no killer.

A marvelous game of cat and mouse ensues as Cadell seeks to expose the truth while hiding his own secrets. A task that grows ever more difficult as his desire for Breton grows…and the danger deepens.


Review:

You know how with some books it’s hard to pinpoint why it worked so well for you or didn’t work at all? Dark Economy is not one of those books. It has strong pros and equally strong cons.

It starts off as a wonderful debut, and I found myself taking a curious peek at the author’s page to confirm that this is indeed her first work. The writing is witty and effortless, but above all: so enthusiastic! The fun the author had writing an early 19th century mystery about British medical student and part-time grave robber Cadell Meredith, is palpable.

What’s great too, is that you can tell that she did her research: Latin names are thrown around smartly during the MC’s pathological adventures, and the lightly touched upon debate about the ethics of medical professionals practicing their surgical skills on the deceased (and sometimes turning to stealing dead bodies out of necessity), adds a nice touch.

The same debate sparks the cat-and-mouse game between Cadell and cop Breton, who suspects Cadell of robbing graves. This is one of the things that excited me most about the blurb. I love me a story in which the two MCs attempt to outsmart each other and the hunter becomes the hunted! And its execution is promising at first: Cadell outsmarting the ‘hard to read’ cop with his ‘cold smiles’ made me smile. However, they have far, far too little page time together!

Sadly, this brings me to the cons of Dark Economy. The author focuses completely on her mystery, and appears to lose sight of the M/M factor completely. Although their occasional snarky dialogue is wonderful, there is little that points toward a romantic connection or even just chemistry between the MCs.

At times Cadell lusts after Breton for a bit, but only when the men actually share a scene. He doesn’t spare him any thought when he’s busy amateur sleuthing (which is about 90% of the time). To me, these ‘horny daydreaming’ moments feel like they were added as an afterthought in a conscious attempt to create chemistry between the MCs. Something similar happens when the as ‘unreadable’ presented Breton throws Cadell on beds or against walls in sudden bouts of frustration. But most of all, in obvious attempts to force psychical interaction between the two.

On top of that, their already unconvincing pairing is sabotaged by the introduction of another potential love interest? Dude!

Taking this into account, I need to point out what I know will be a deal breaker for some: this is one of those books in which the breeches don’t come off until the 98% mark. And here the author cuts off about the only scene that shouldn’t have been cut short...

Because for me the ultimate con of this book isn’t the lack of great M/M dynamics - although that disappoints – it is its length. The mystery meanders on for 250 whopping pages without real highlights or breathers. Since this is not a whodunit, as a reader you have no choice but to tag along for the ride, at some point not being able to keep track of the names and possible culprits anymore. Since you are not actively involved in solving the crime either, chances are that at some point you’ll find yourself not caring which 'random name' turns out to be the culprit.

Dark Economy is therefore not a book that - despite the lovely writing, plot concept and gorgeous cover - I can easily and instantly rec to a whole bunch of peeps. Perhaps it's a good bet for historical lovers who are kind of fed up with MCs fucking up their mystery with their penises?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Unnatural by Joanna Chambers

Unnatural by Joanna Chambers
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Synopsis:

James and Iain's story - offshot of the Enlightenment series.

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Review:

Fans of her Enlightenment series will be delighted: Unnatural is a typical Chambers. It’s a mellow, inoffensive romance that thrives on gay taboo fueled UST and guilt, and is set in the Regency era. What’s more, our old friends Balfour and Lauriston make an appearance in this book. They may even be important for the plot!

I feel like prefacing this review by mentioning that I was probably one of the very few people that had a somewhat lukewarm reaction to the Enlightenment series. Although I did enjoy it as the Harlequinesque experience that it was, my perks were the same as with that popular M/F genre: the lack of originality in the story-lines and the bland, inconspicuous characters.

In that regard, Unnatural wasn’t a spectacular read either. But it has angst and longing, sweep-you-off-your-feet love declarations and all that other sweet vanilla fudge with caramel swirls stuff that will warm your heart, and make you root for the haunted heroes.

With the focus entirely on the obstacles that the MCs must overcome to find happiness, not much else is going on plot wise. The pacing is nice and unhurried, and although the story is told through flashbacks – something I’m usually not keen on – the back and forth’s between past and present were handled smoothly and skilfully.

It wasn’t until the 75% mark that I grew slightly tired of the repeated chorus of small bouts of ‘we mustn’t, but the flesh is weak’ released sexual tension resulting in guilt trips and a deepening wedge between the MCs. At times I think Chambers headed into fairy tale territory as well. I have to mind potential spoilers so I will just mention a tiny fragment as example, namely a certain passionate kissing scene in a boathouse that felt a little too mushy given the circumstances.

I had also hoped for more than the recycled ‘M/M dirty talk’ during the sexy bits. Especially considering the historical era, I was more than a little disappointed with the uninspired prose in these scenes. Had I hoped for swollen manhoods and battering rams instead? Not really. What I do wish though, is for Chambers to develop more of a signature style, an uniqueness to her prose, that would make her works stand out. Everything I’ve read of hers so far is pleasant enough, but not particularly memorable.

But like I said, her books are absolutely sweet and enjoyable and Unnatural was no exception to that rule!

PS We haven’t seen the last of Kit Redford. Who agrees?;)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Irrevocable (Evan Arden Series No. 5) by Shay Savage

Irrevocable (Evan Arden, #5)Irrevocable by Shay Savage


ARC kindly provided by author in return for an honest review

DNF

For Shay Savage fans looking for the quality of story telling, writing and character intrigue as found in Otherwise Occupied, look elsewhere. Unfortunately I have to stick by reviews for the first three books in the Evan Arden Series that cite this series as a failure with the anomaly of the second installation peaking with quality.

My perspective is that Savage tried to do too much with Irrevocable - appease fans that love Evan, appease fans that want this to be a romance, appease fans that were sucked in by Otherwise Occupied - but this newest edition simply didn't appease me and I have broken up with Evan Arden for good.

Personally I was excited to see one-dimensional Lia get scrapped - good riddance to her. However, she was replaced by a cookie cutter version of herself that is, *gulps*, even blander than she was. Alina brings nothing to Evan or the series and cements another of Savage's attempts at fleshing out a female character to fall flat. The mafia drama lama arc nearly put me to sleep - completely unengaging. And worst of all - Evan seemed to be having an identity crisis - he (nor I) wasn't sure if he was PTSD, schitzo, depressed. Evan failed to be interesting. Evan is the whole point I read the series - but I couldn't find the Evan I knew on the pages in this book.

So even though I was smitten the first two installments in this series, a break up is what is best for Evan and I.

* On a side note: Shay Savage is a class act. I am a highly analytic, hard to please reader and she engaged and considered my chatter. Which tells me she is a truly devoted writer able to reflect on her strengths and improve where needed. Obviously Irrevocable just didn't work for me and I know she is capable of more than how this series dwindled - I have glimpsed her potential previously in this series. I wish her well in not losing sight of accomplishing the quality and goals of where she wants to take her writing.