A VVivacious Review :The Divorce (Starting Over #1) by Matthew J. Metzger

Rating: 3 Stars Out of 5*
Aled is wallowing at the end of his marriage while his best friend, Suze and her husband, Tom try to get him out of it, be getting him rip-roaring drunk and getting him laid via a Grindr profile. When his one-night stand with angel23 turns out to be something more, it might just be the thing that forces Aled to let go and move on.

Buckle in guys, this is a long one

This book just won’t stop. I can’t, I tried, I really tried but I couldn’t switch my brain off. When I read I mostly dissociate from who I am as a person and I almost always read a character’s perspective which is bad because I borrow the character’s perceptions and therefore are very susceptible to the author’s manipulation, sometimes I can’t pick up harmful stereotyping and words when the character doesn’t pick up on it. I have come to realise that that is why my POV get very limited and I might not be the best person to tell you if a book might have harmful themes but you know what I do. I know what it is like to read a book which has a theme I can’t behind, it is horrible. It feels like a bad threesome starring me, the book and my brain and can I just say, it’s horrible.

This book has multiple instances of unsafe sex, like don’t even ask how many. By the 57% mark, I was still having a breakdown every time I come across this aspect of the book. Romance traditionally has a habit of romanticizing unsafe sex but unsafe sex is against every fibre of my being like the first thing I told myself when I got into romance was that I would not ever overlook this and I don’t.

But, when a book keeps on doing it without at least a veneer of excuse, I just can’t. Like, I will happily take the werewolves don’t get ill excuse as long as you actually give it to me. Anything will do, just give me something to blindfold my eyes. Anything. At this point, I have to say that they have unsafe sex multiple times in this book which becomes increasingly problematic considering that both Aled and Gabriel have sex with multiple partners. Like, that’s just putting salt on my wounds. This is my infidelity, guys, I know some people can’t read a book with cheating in it, apparently I have a hard time getting through books with unsafe sex. And it’s bad, every time they have a sex scene I have to stop reading so I can brace myself for what will in all eventuality follow and because bracing for it doesn’t work I then have to rant to my walls. I keep trying to see those scenes as fantasy and I KEEP reminding myself its just a book but then my brain comes back with the counter-argument that if the book doesn’t challenge it how is anyone reading the book going to know it’s wrong. Also, what is Gabriel’s problems with condoms? I really, really don’t understand how these two to plan to avoid STDs if they continue to have multiple sexual partners. It is so so stupid, I have no words.

This book was a literal experience, I literally can’t say where it goes on the rating scale. There were so many things happening in RL while I was reading this book and also while reading I learned that this book is planned as the first in a series and the author has a series blurb up on Goodreads which is different than this book’s blurb and actually the direction that the series blurb offers isn’t even hinted at in the first book, so I felt like I was being cheated into reading something that might later turn into something else and I’m not sure if I actually have been cheated but it does feel that way.

Aled and Gabriel are rational characters aside from that complete asinine need to contract STDs, they are amazing characters. They are both very gritty and Gabriel did start off on my wrong side but later I really came to appreciate his character though I continue to disagree with his choices during sex. I kind of get him, I totally don’t get his aversion to condoms and I can’t believe Aled gave in without a word? Aled is a good guy though there is a literal asterisk next to the word good which implies just what you though it does.

How am I going to write this review? I liked Aled and Gabriel as characters and the author had me invested in the storyline and I liked where the story is going and I liked how this story starts with Melissa and Aled’s impending divorce and how it comes full circle with that point but I don’t condone unsafe sex. I want to read the next in this series but believe me, I am already dreading the review for that one as well.

How can I say that I liked this book while not agreeing with something that is shoved in your face every few minutes? There is a lot of sex in this book which would have been amazing because I love Gabriel’s kinks but instead it was torture and not at all in a good way.

I wanted to talk themes that were approached in this book but yeah the fact is that I can’t isolate the story from the sex because it is pretty intermingled and I don’t want someone to twist my words because I don’t know how I can get my feelings across in the right measure.

So Melissa and Aled’s divorce was a refreshing topic something that you don’t see much in romance and I liked how it was done and how it was ultimately resolved. It was certainly a very unique take on an occurrence that I have never actually read being discussed in a romance. But, while the book’s title might make you think that this would be the biggest plot point it isn’t. The Divorce is in all actuality meant to be a romance and while the divorce plays a part in it, it remains just that – a part of the story.

I liked Aled’s friends Suze and Tom who are the only vanilla anything in this book. Though I was personally offended by the way they took Gabriel’s transgender status and yeah when it blows up, I was actually glad that it got addressed but I didn’t like the fact that that had to happen at the expense of Gabriel’s feelings.

I like Gabriel and Aled but I have a major problem with the way they are leading their life. How can people have a discussion about polyamory and not talk about ways to keep themselves safe. Gabriel never wanted to use condoms from the very first time he met Aled on Grindr like literally give me something to keep me disillusioned and Aled was even more pathetic in a way because he tries to use condoms and then forgets about them so easily like I was left reeling.

I want a disclaimer for unsafe sex because it is really putting off especially because after a while it starts resembling a train wreck to me.

It was actually also interesting to see an open relationship because Aled and Gabriel have a very unconventional relationship because Gabriel has sex with other individuals independent of Aled and that is definitely something I have never seen discussed in MM and frankly if the discussion on safe sex is going to be bloody non-existent I actually don’t want to read it again.

I find myself in a big dilemma because while I am invested in these characters and their story I don’t know how I can get over this roadblock.

It was a very big obstacle for me. It might not be for others, so in a way, this might be a book you might have to judge for yourself. This is a pretty unique book a lot of what I read about in this book I have never seen discussed anywhere else and it is written in a very engaging manner which was probably the only reason I got through it so well. Overall, I’m going to give it three stars but that comes with a serious disclaimer because I feel this book would have been pretty good if it had some semblance of safe sex. I can’t say that with surety because the whole safe sex thing was such a big deal to me that I might have missed subtler problems that I might have picked up on otherwise, if not for the very distracting reading experience I had.

Cover Art by Erin Dameron-Hill is very aesthetically pleasing and does a good job of illustrating the title.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:
ebook, 245 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2019 by Pride Publishing
Edition Language English
SeriesStarting Over #1

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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