Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
Jace O’Neal is slowly rebuilding his life after a disastrous romance with an actor named Dylan Malone in NYC sends him back to Atlanta in disgrace. Living with his mother and his brother, a fourteen-year-old with Fragile X syndrome, one of the known causes of autism, Jace is pursued by Malone, who finally persuades him into another relationship. Then Dylan goes missing and the evidence left at the scene points to Jace’s involvement.
The detective on the case, Will Jordan, is drawn to Jace right away, and learns that Jace’s former lover was manipulative and cruel. Will fights his attraction to Jace as he seeks the truth of what happened to Malone. As more clues emerge and point to Jace, Jordan begins to believe Jace is in danger. A complicated web of lies threatens Jace’s life and he must fight his way to happiness through a maze of romance, murder and intrigue.
I’m just not a fan of this book. I don’t know, maybe it hit me at the wrong time, maybe I’m the wrong audience but I just couldn’t get behind either the characters or this story.
It’s not the author because I’m such a fan of Shannon West’s other series like her Mate of the Tyger Prince series. Or her Dark Hollow Wolf Pack series, both excellent. No, its several elements here that bother the bejezaas out of me. Usually, once that happens there’s no recovery and there wasn’t one here.
It starts with the character of Jace O’Neal. There’s a fine line between domestic violence victim and doormat in characterization. To me, Jace reads doormat. He all but paints a huge V on his forehead and puts a kick-me sign on the back. I had a complete lack of empathy with him (not so in other books with stories with characters who are victims of domestic violence). Its doesn’t help in that the way in which the narrative is laid out we are distanced from that part of Jace’s life. It’s almost told in abstract, it’s that removed from the storyline flashback style. So there’s no immediate effect for the reader other than Jace’s retelling which comes off as less than impactful. His actions continued to confound me throughout the storyline. Smh.
Another element that is also connected to Jace is that of his brother Tyler, a 14 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome. Much is made of this and yet not enough. Tyler is used more to make important plot points and less as someone real and important to Jace. At least that’s how it came across to me. There’s no mention of getting any sort of assistance for him and at one point Jace tries to hug him, surprised when that doesn’t go over well. Tyler is repeatedly exposed to violence, physical abuse and yet, again, Jace is shocked that Tyler is aware that it’s happening in a small house. Jace is treating him as though he’s deaf and stupid at times here. How could you be unaware that someone is being beaten and shouted at in a small house? Yes, Jace is so stunned that he starts crying. I almost stopped reading right there.
There’s the detective who falls for him (and starts sleeping with him while on the case) and the mystery that quite frankly you will have figured out soon into the story. The whole thing just had no credibility for me. This will send me running right back to West’s Mate of the Tyger Prince series to remember why I love her writing so.
Cover art is sort of cool.
Kindle Edition, 177 pages
Published May 12th 2017 by MLR Press (first published May 9th 2017)