Originally published in April of 2014, Stay With Me (The PI Guys #1) by S.E. Harmon immediately dates itself with continuing references to popular technologies (Walkmans,DVDs), on trend brands, Mom vehicles of the day (Dodge Caravans), and new leading edge wearables like head sets, iTouch and Nanos. Every sentence is a pull back into a framework of cultural references that makes one pause enough to consider the source, and maybe the need for a Google moment.
Kevin McCallister and Home Alone?
I know, I know. 😱
How this constant immersion in a dated timeframe affects a reader might depend on their age. Some will feel nostalgic, others mildly irritated, others confused by the ongoing usages of elements they simply aren’t familiar with or don’t understand.
Authors beware the need to appear plugged in or knowledgeable by the overuse of trendy or highly popular technology in your stories. In a few years or more? They and your story are obsolete. Or at best rendered Recent Historic Contemporary Fiction.
Next. Relationship issues with the main characters.
As you can tell this was a problematic book for me. A surprise as I very much like their newer series.
Private investigator Mackenzie Williams has a history of bad relationships. The last one was a “straight “ lawyer he was in love with, they were saving to move in together, even had a dog. Yet no one outside of his family, knew they were together. Mac, a outwardly gay man , was in the closet when he was around the man he was supposed to move in with. Until that man proposed to another lawyer, a female one.
Mac Williams comes off as a emotionally torn individual ,who in relationships, becomes a doormat.
It’s not especially enjoyable to read about someone who tells himself not to fall instantly for a straight guy again, does so, then proceeds to make all the same errors one shouldn’t make in that situation. With a client too.
Jordan Channing is one flag after another. Engaged to a woman who’s also a good friend. Also believes himself to be straight. Charming. Becomes attracted to Mac. Eventually decides he needs a experiment to see if he’s gay. With someone who’s told him not to come after him until he’s figured things out. So there no respect of established boundaries. He’s also sees himself as the arbitrator of what is happening in their relationship.
I won’t go into using someone to figure out if you’re on the Spectrum or not. Nor do I think people should be rushed into figuring out their sexuality.
My issues with the character of Jordan is that he repeatedly lies to Mac about different situations and issues. Gets discovered in those lies, gets angry, then makes Mac feel hugely guilty because he’s discovered Jordan’s lies .
“But I did it because I knew you’d be upset…”
Is this a couple and relationship I’m supposed to get behind?
There is so much more. The supposedly ex fiancé not aware of Mac, Jordan not acknowledging him , that he even had a right to a key. I could go on and on. As I said flags. A boatload of flags.
The relationships Harmon’s written in their latest series don’t seem to have any of these issues. Maybe it was 2014 . I don’t know. But, honestly, whether it was then or now, those things are aspects of a relationship that should be addressed.
I’m going to read the second book in this series to see if it’s the author’s take on this couple and characters or the entire series.
I’m confused as to why someone would write such a relationship. Or one that comes across as such to me.
Maybe I’m the only person seeing issues here.
Add that couple, that relationship, to a story full of old brands, past it’s time technology, and names rarely heard anymore, and it’s no wonder that the smallest issue stood out amongst all of that.
Yes, there’s a happy ending. If you enjoy this couple, then you’ll be pleased by the satisfying manner in which the author leaves them.
Overall, the story moves quickly, with only a few places where it seems to slow for emotional issues to resolve.
I hesitated over the rating. It’s well written but I think the issues for me made it less than enjoyable.
The PI Guys series:
Stay With Me 1
So Into You #2
The PI Guys: Book One
Private investigator Mackenzie Williams’s newest client is everything he’s looking for in a guy—charming, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. There’s only one itty bitty problem—the guy’s not exactly gay. In fact, Jordan Channing is looking for a PI to follow his fiancée. The smart thing would be to thank Jordan for his time, turn Mr. Perfect away (don’t let the door hit you on the rump, thank you very much), and forget he exists.
Of course, Mackenzie has never been accused of doing the smart thing. Being a smart aleck is more his MO. Relationships aren’t up his alley, never have been. So why’s he so inexplicably drawn to his new client?
Jordan has always been the high achiever, a man who lives in a focused, controlled, and carefully constructed manner. But for the first time in his life, he has to admit the impossible—another man is getting his engine running on all cylinders. Despite Jordan’s denial, it’s not long before he can no longer resist the strong undercurrents pulling them together. Now Jordan must decide if he can go against everything he’s ever known to have the only love he’s ever wanted.