Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
I have trouble finding new romance that I want to read. A lot of it wanders into taboo territory, and if you're into that, more power to ya! But I'm not, so I actually have to be really selective. Coming off of reading Belle Aurora's RAW, someone recommended this book to me. That book bordered the uncomfortable for me, so it took me a while to pick REAL up. I'm so glad I did.
First, let me say that I'm sort of shocked to see it make a few reader's 'rape culture' shelf on GoodReads as I feel it's about the only romance novel I've read that registers a complete zero on my patented romance review rape-o-meter. It was a breath of fresh fucking air to even see him resist her advances, despite the fact she was asking him for it. There wasn't even that sort of of, 'no, no, YES, GOD YES!' mentality to it that you get in a lot of these books. There's fantasy in that, being overpowered, taken care of; I do understand where it comes from. Implied con/non-con is a big kink of mine, but, sometimes, I just don't want any of it.
Secondly, the fact that Brooke, the heroine, drives the story? Again, novel and heartening. Her backstory matters; it's what drives the story. There is quite a bit of romantic hero angst, which I'll address in a minute, but it's actually Brooke the story centers around. And I seem to be in the minority in this, but I liked the character. Event though it's so far out of my experience, I felt extreme sympathy and empathy for her. And while her narration was a a bit on the repetitive side of HE'S SO HAWT I NEED HIM NOW! I mean, it wasn't like I couldn't identify!
And, ooh, the elephant in the room: Remy suffers from bipolar disorder. I was very cautious of this, because I am, in fact, bipolar borderline psychotic. And I'd seen people say that it's totally inaccurate and semi-offensive. And I... didn't find it to be. It's never strictly been proven that eyes can and do change color with moods, but it makes for effective drama in the book, and I'd hardly call that anything offensive. And here's where I have a problem with people reading about something and then talking about it with authority because Remy operates like I do: his manic upswings are littered with paranoia, jealousy and spurts of pathological anger. This is real, it happens; manic episodes aren't always, for everyone, times of booming creativity and productivity. They're not always the happy to the depressive's downswing.
And a lot of the time, he's just even, with some of the problems persisting, like the paranoia and anger issues. I don't normally like to talk about my personal life in reviews, I've only done so once before, but I wanted to note that, far from being horribly inaccurate, as it's been accused of being, I related more to Remy than I have other, more serious depictions I've read. And I think it comes down to the fact that I feel like anyone who reads this would feel only sympathy; even if they didn't come away with a great understanding of what it actually is, they'll feel for it. and that made me happy.
However, I do have an issue with the anti-meds message used yet again. It's getting tired, guys, and those of us who rely on medication? We're not lesser people for it, and it doesn't actually chemically castrate us. And I feel if Remy was so very concerned that he'd hurt someone during a manic upswing, he'd bite the bullet and at least take something mild. That's the only minor problem I have with it.
And Brooke leaves him towards the end. I understood her reasoning, and sympathized, even though I have literally been on the receiving end of the "I can't take this anymore" with boyfriends and girlfriends in the past. I felt, though, if it had been more focused, it would work better for me. She says he's self-destructive when he's like that, but there's no president. The only other time he let himself get hit, she found out quickly after was just so he had an excuse for her to work him and put her hands on him. She handles his outburst with grace and calm, and it seems to me that she's more upset about being shut out when he doesn't come back to the hotel and Riley basically tells her that he doesn't want to see her. But it's not addressed that way. It's not really a problem, it's just something I would have liked to have seen handled better.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the book, and am now scrambling for the sequels. I think Katy Evans just made a fan for life!