Facebook has realized that my kindle account is a vast wasteland of ripped bodices and “Sirs”, hitmen, and redeemed rogues. This has been both a delight and a nuisance. I’ve discovered books and authors that I never would’ve discovered otherwise, for better or for worse. But there’s no way to control the suggestion monstrosity it’s become. I can’t tell it “I don’t like that author” or “yes, I bought that now go away”. It shows me things I’ve seen again and again and it’s gotten more than a little annoying.
Not only does it do that, but i’m not sure if they consult the authors about the actual excerpts on the ads. This makes the second book i’ve read where the summary not only doesn’t match the actual events of the book but that the quotes used don’t happen either. Could’ve actually come from a completely different book, both times. Especially concerning this book, I was lead to believe that the male character was much more interested and possessive of the female lead then he actually was. It was a frustrating realization because while that might not seem like a distinction, in romance it’s the difference between hate sex and sweet words.
But my complaints about giant corporations and disorganized software aside (*growls at amazon*), today’s review is a book that I might not have seen without the ads. It was a contemporary romance novel written by a man. Jackson Kane, who calls his fans Kandy Kanes and I was so compelled to both laugh and cry at that piece of information, I texted it to basically everyone I knew.
Break Hard is the story of Star, a passionate city girl trapped in small town Oklahoma with her apparently horrible relatives. Coming right off of the Courage the cowardly dog set, her uncle apparently says nothing much, yells at her, and reads the newspaper, complete with rocking chair. Their tiny gas station is set upon by the local One-percenter motorcycle gang and chaos ensues, leading the gang to kidnap Star instead of kill her because Remy, our lead guy, said so.
At this point, the Amazon ad would have had me believe that Remy takes up for her and no one gets to her through him. But at no point does he actually do that. At all. In fact, he tries to ignore his conscience as she’s attacked by another club member, only losing the battle at the last possible second. Star struggles to survive in the toxic climate of the club and Remy is struggling as well, questioning the line his club had gone down in the last several years. They’re eventually forced to leave as Remy makes a final decision that is irreversible and has fairly dire consequences. On the run, they fall into more of a Bonnie and Clyde lifestyle and eventually they get to a rather traditional final showdown, with some unfortunate bumps along the way.
As far as motorcycle club romance novel plots go, this one is fairly decent. Family interwoven in a club gone bad, looking to rebaptize it by fire, and pretty dark action scenes with heavy consequences. As far as the plot itself goes and the accompanying action fight descriptions, I’d be hard pressed to give this book any less than five stars. But the characters and their momentum ruin absolutely everything.
**Spoilers Ahead! If you’d like to give this book a fair and unbiased shot, come back and read my critical complaints later on.**
Complaint One: This is a romance novel written by a guy. The ONE thing I needed from this book was a sex scene, with Star, completely from his perspective! I have romance novels filled with ladies writing sex from a male perspective. The one thing that would have made this book flawlessly unique is the inclusion of a scene from Remy’s POV. But the only scene we have of that is with a hooker, early on into the book, while the character’s drunk. An absolute waste.
Complaint Two: The sex scenes themselves. At one point, in the hotel room, Star notices that calling Remy, “Sir”, got him more excited. But then that was never explored and we never heard about it again. The characters themselves display an interest in kinky ideas and exploration, but never explore. It’s like being taunted with something the whole book, waiting for them to be more honest about their sex lives and then being let down. Not to mention at one point, they have weird, mildly uncomfortable sex on a car that’s been sitting out in the Oklahoma sun. Ouch. I’m honestly uncomfortable thinking about a hot seatbelt, whole car to exposed tender skin aside.
Complaint Three: Star and her backstory. Star complains in the first chapter that she’s in Oklahoma because the college offered her class. This backstory later changes for her to be a rich girl who had an affair with a professor, whose wife was now suing her for vandalism after Star, and follow this logic with me, realized he was cheating on her with someone else. And she knew he was married. She was angry when she realized that someone willing to cheat on their wife with a twenty year old was also willing to cheat on that twenty year old with another one. Even typing that out, i’m struggling to see where she has a right to be angry about that situation, except in that she should’ve seen it coming.
Not to mention, not once in mentioning that repeatedly does she ever place a modicum of guilt on herself. About ANYTHING. She repeatedly says she’s different from that spoiled rich girl she was two weeks ago. But A) she’s definitely not and her just declaring so is so aggravating and B) you don’t just wake up after something has happened to you, good or bad, and decide you don’t know the person you were before. You start to change, you assess things differently, you value different things, you grow. You add to them. Or you develop split personality disorder, I guess.
Complaint One Hundred and Nine: GROWING A BACKBONE DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO BE RUDE, GUYS. There are SO MANY instances of this, I don’t know where to start. But the main two that really get me both happen right before the end of the book. The first is when Star decides that she “can’t do normal” like having committed a few crimes makes her the biggest, baddest bitch in the west, and doesn’t want to put up with a coworker who does nothing. So she pulls a knife on her, threatens her, and leaves. It’s so unnecessary and dramatic and honestly unsatisfying. And the second one almost made me close the damn book, but i’d put in so much time, I couldn’t quit. They’re in a Walmart, with one of the only accessible payphones around. And Remy is on it for while and a woman gets impatient and is rude to him. Star says she’ll take care of it and intimidates the woman so as they leave, she’s crouched on the floor shaking in fear. And then, Remy decides that her problems are not life and death, that they’re nothing compared to theirs, and breaks the phone. There is not only no reason to do that, but there’s nothing in the world that can make me attracted to a character who has, at this point, basically settled for Star and then decided that no one’s problems matter but his. There’s nothing sexy about disrespect.
The saving grace of this book is that it’s not poorly written, besides that one minor plot skip with Star, the action scenes, motives, and plot are on point for the book. That doesn’t mean it’s a good plot, but it is solid enough to stand on its own. If you’re interested enough in the novelty of a romance novel written by a man, go for it. Experience it, I suppose. But if you’re not skip the amazon ad and hang with the Hangmen or the Ravens instead.
The Resident Romantic