Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
This is only the second new romance/erotic novel I've read, the other being Fifty Shades of Grey, the book that's spawned shelves upon shelves of such books at my local BAM (oh, how I miss the neat, colorful rows of bodice rippers). This was a much better book. By an easy mile.
The story was well constructed and, well, present. There is a story. This alone sets it above a lot of romance novels I've read. Twitch's character development is real, and he's a truly intriguing protagonist/antagonist that I would never, ever get involved with! I wanted, with aching sincerity, to see how his story unfolded. He's a consistent character, even in his inconsistencies, with a real sense of danger to him, which the author never dulls down. Also, hooray for those dark-skinned Mediterranean men! The Greek in me loves that olive skin!
My main problems stems from Lexi. I will go to the mat defending female characters, even the most difficult ones. Anyone who knows me knows this. As long as her experience feels real to me, I can live it through her, no matter how challenging a point of view or personality it is. So take it seriously when I say this: Lexi is stupid. Lexi is actually one of the stupidest characters I've ever read. If Lexi were a real woman, I'd throw my hands up and just give up on my own gender entirely.
Let's go over her crimes. Disclaimer: I am not a prude, and I understand that I'm reading a fantasy. One set very firmly in the real world. It's not necessarily the choices she makes, but her complete lack of awareness that they are colossally bad decisions, despite the fact that she's supposed to be intelligent and responsible. She is stalked by Twitch for... a long period of time? I can't recall if the book ever says how long, but I got the feeling it was six months-plus. Fine. This is the basis of a romance novel, after all. I'm not going to squeal about how unhealthy it is, because, again, this is fantasy.
When she is almost raped, and Twitch saves her from her attacker, she invites him into her apartment. Understandable, by the books standards. She's feeling vulnerable and frightened, and this man has just saved her, and beaten her attacker to death in front of her. Slight red flag, but okay. She invites him into her bed (remember, they've never spoken before then; she's only seen hims talking her) because she's scared to be alone. You know, don't sleep on the floor or anything, potentially crazy, definitely homicidal maybe-homeless person!
But, again, this is just the story. I feel like it almost rushes to the sexy parts, and it wasn't necessary; in the same amount of time Aurora takes to breeze into it, she could have actually spent developing the sexual attraction. But! I am grateful that they (and by they, I mean the both of them, including Lexi) only fall in love, or realize they're falling in love, after their sexual relationship has begun. I like that, and it's unusual; no shaming here!
The worst of it isn't her ignoring the fact that he's a drug dealer with violent associations, despite her respectable position as a social worker; it's not even the fact that she's an adult woman who succumbs to peer pressure and smokes weed which somehow... inhibits her so much she does two lines of coke? Oh my God! I have, maybe, partook once or twice in my life of a little smoke, but never has it impaired my judgement quite that badly! Especially when, uh oh! Plot point! The government has stringent drug regulations and random testing, which she knows will be happening soon. Oh, Lexi.
No, that's not the worst of it. The worst of it is how she stops taking her birth control. No explanation! She just tells us in first-person that she stopped taking it two weeks ago, whoops! Was it an accident? Is she trying to get pregnant? Why does she not start taking it again?
Her friends suck, too. Though they're supposed to be hyper protective of her, they overlook a lot that I would not want my friends overlooking, including the fact that she was almost raped, which sort of just drops after a while. Twitch's friends, amazingly, are the more responsible of the group, worrying for Lexi's safety since they know Twitch, and they know what he had originally intended. Well, except for Happy, but Happy's the kind of sociopath you call when you need to grind up a body and scatter the pieces, so... yeah.
Lexi is frustrating. I kept trying with her, and I kept seeing her make bad decision after bad decision. The stuff with her love/sex life is fine; a woman prefers what she prefers. But her life choices made me cringe.
Luckily, the book has shifting first-person narrations, even within chapters, to see situations from Lexi or Twitch's POVs sometimes at near-the-same-time. Too little Twitch, in my opinion, as his narration is more consistent and more alluring.
I debated the rating for a good, long while. Did it deserve four? Should I give it a half star? Was it more likely a three star read? I read this in January, the first book of the year, and it's stayed with me since. So four it is! Looking forward to the sequel. Yeah, Julius!