An Ali Review: Love It Like You Stole It by Ki Brightly

Rating: 2 out of  5 stars

Michael Levine is backed into a corner. He started tearing apart cars for the local mob with the best of intentions—to save up money to pay for his mechanic certifications and impress his crush and mentor, Ben. But Michael soon finds himself in way over his head. He knows stealing is wrong, but it’s only cars, and the insurance will pay to replace them, right? What started out as a small job to make some extra bucks soon turns into a nightmare he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to find his way out of.

Ben Jelen isn’t sure where his life is going. On the surface everything looks fine. He has a successful business, he’s raising his niece into a strong person, and he has a boyfriend most guys only dream of—sexy and rich. But nothing feels right. The only things that really keep Ben’s attention anymore are his classic Road Runner, his niece, and Michael—his Meeko. Ben took him under his wing forever ago, and their love of old cars and fast driving has forged a strong bond. Ben’s days don’t feel right if he doesn’t get to see Meeko at least once. But something seems drastically wrong in Meeko’s life, and Ben hopes he can put the pieces together to help him before it’s too late.

I picked this book solely because of the title. I had not read this author before and was hoping for a new gem. Unfortunately this didn’t work for me at all.

My first issue was early on in the prologue. We meet Ben who is an adult who owns his own business. He sees some teens picking on another teen and goes to break it up. He is immediately sexually attracted to the one being picked on. The one he thinks is about 15 years old. I was immediately creeped out. I’m not down with adults perving on kids. This might have not been an issue for me if we knew how old Ben was. Maybe he was only 18 or 19? I don’t know because the author never told us. We have a story about an age gap romance and we never find out how old one MC is. It messed up the entire romance for me because I didn’t know. When they got together were they 20 and 25? 20 and 30? 20 and 50?? Those numbers make huge differences for me in how I perceive a story and if I’m going to enjoy it or not. I decided  I was going to just make Ben a few years older and go with that. Even with that Ben still felt like a creeper in many places. His relationship with an adult fails because he can’t stop thinking about “his Meeko”.  Even though Michael is 20 when they start their relationship he is presented as frail and dependent and he felt very young and teen like to me.

My next issue was I didn’t like any of the characters. Ben was just so bleh and boring. No depth to his character. Michael was such a victim. Everyone is his entire life picks on him. No one likes him. (Literally no one in the entire book except Ben). There is no explanation for this. It made no sense. Then, I’m also expected to believe he’s going to be able to run a bunch of chop shops? With what social skills?  How could he be the boss of anything when no one listens to him or respects him and when he can’t even meet people’s eyes when he talks to them? The side characters were all really terrible people. Michael’s “friends” were horrible. They were the kids who used to bully him. No logical explanation was made as to why they were now friends. Ben’s teenage niece was such a rotten, disrespectful brat. (His parenting could not have been worse.)  I seriously would have been happy if her character had gotten killed off. And Ben’s ex Grant.  That relationship was also not a bit believable and Grant was a super unlikable. I have no idea why he was even there. It totally took away from Ben and Michael’s romance and it felt like it was just a tool for more drama. A big part of my dislike of the characters was because I felt they were poorly developed. There was no substance to any of them.

Their romance made no sense to me. They don’t talk to each other, they don’t even meet each other’s eyes. Michael because he’s scared and Ben cause apparently looking in Michael’s eyes will make him lose all control and confess his love.  They say they’re best friends yet they tell each other nothing.  Michael didn’t even tell Ben when his grandfather died. Years before. What??? As the plot goes on they start telling each other all kinds of things about their lives but by then I wasn’t buying it. How were they best friends for 5 years yet knew nothing about each other?

The overall plot with the bad guy also made no sense to me.  It was a convoluted and you have to suspend giant amounts of reality to buy even just a little. So, so many things that were unbelievable to me. By the last 25% I couldn’t even take it anymore so I just started skimming.

This story was drama llama drama on steriods.  Soap operas and telenovellas have less drama than this book did. I know this is a personal thing.  Some people enjoy drama in their stories but it is not something I enjoy at all.

The thing that made this book catch my eye ended up making me cranky. The title was catchy and creative when writing about car guys. The author didn’t stop there though. Every single chance they got to use a car reference or metaphor they did. Every. Single. Chance. I thought I was going to throw my Kindle if the phrase “it’s cherry” was used one more time. It just went on and on.  I went from “This is kind of cool” to “Oh my god I will throat punch the next character to make a car pun”.

Unfortunately nothing about this story worked for me.  I did not enjoy it at all.  I’m giving it two stars because some of the things I disliked may have just been me and because the technicality of the writing was fine.  I know I have used the phrase “Made no sense to me” repeatedly but really it didn’t.  I’ve never met people like these in my life and I don’t know anyone who acts like these people so I just couldn’t find any frame of reference with any of them.  This is completely subjective though and other readers may related more based on their life experiences.
Cover Art:  The cover was done by Natasha Snow and I really like it.  I think it’s an eye catching cover that fits the vibe of the story perfectly.
Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 1st edition
Published July 9th 2018 by NineStar Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

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