Make it a Double, by Sawyer Bennett

4 Mar

Sensual coupleThis week, Kristie(J) (who is back, blogging! yay!) talked about reading a bunch of Ms Bennett’s books and loving/liking most of them, so I thought, what the heck, let’s give her a whirl. And wouldn’t you know it, this one was a freebie, so I grabbed it.

There is some swearing and some graphic sex, and a bit of stalking, so…reader beware.

Make it a Double, by Sawyer Bennett

This is the second in the Last Call books. It is also young adult, narrated alternatively by the two leads, in first person present tense. Honestly, if I had known that before doing the one-click thing, I probably wouldn’t have grabbed it. Yes, I’ve liked a few of these, but it’s not something I particularly enjoy unless done really well.

Last Call is a bar, owned by our protagonists twin brother, Hunter, who is the main character in the first book. Brody has recently been released from prison after serving five years for vehicular manslaughter. Understandably, he’s having a hell of a time trying to integrate to life outside.

Here, have a blurb from the author’s website:

Brody Markham has endured a nightmare, spending the last five years in prison and losing everything that was dear to him. Now he’s back home, trying to survive in a world he doesn’t recognize anymore. While his family and friends desperately try to reach through to him, he shelters himself further and further away from their love.

Alyssa Myers has worked her entire life to distance herself from the luxurious and privileged lifestyle in which she was raised. Running her non-profit agency, The Haven, she is content to spend her days helping abused animals find sanctuary, which fulfills her in a way that money just can’t buy.

Maybe it’s that she recognizes in Brody some of the same characteristics she sees in her homeless wards, but Alyssa is powerless to stop her personal quest to make Brody whole again.

While Brody struggles to surface from the darkness, Alyssa tries to protect her heart in case he’s not willing to accept the light that she offers him.

The story starts with our brooding hero, Brody (yes, I couldn’t resist) working as bartender at Last Call. He has been out, on parole, for a couple of months now, and he’s happy to have finally moved out from his parents house and into a small studio-apartment. He is otherwise not particularly enthused with life in general.

Being out means interacting with people, and right now Brody would much prefer the life of a hermit. Unfortunately, a condition of his parole is that he integrates into society as much as possible, which means…well, socializing. Another unwelcome condition is community service, with Brody’s parole officer very much on his case about it.

Alyssa has been a close friend of Casey, Brody’s younger sister, for many years. Her family has always been wealthy, and as an adult, she now controls her own money. Which she has put to use by opening and operating a no-kill animal shelter near the town.

This decision has created more than a few issues with her parents, who cannot understand why Alyssa should need to throw her money away like that, when she could easily live a life of luxury. Then there’s the privileged ex boyfriend with stalker tendencies Alyssa shed a few months before.

Before the crash that changed Brody’s life, these two were as friendly as anyone else in his family’s circle. Now that he’s out, Brody can barely stand the sight of her–simply because she comes from money. Of course, there is a reason for that.

I will say that, despite some issues with the writing voice, I was liking the story well enough at the beginning. It is a little formulaic, and I could see a lot of the plot developments from about a quarter of the way in, but hey, it’s all in the execution, right? So I kept reading.

The characters mostly ramble in a sort of stream of consciousness manner which can be a little annoying to me. Worse, the rest of the time their internal voice is expository–not quite the annoying “as you know, Bob,” but close enough. This inconsistency meant that I never got a good handle on either of them. Sometimes, they sounded a lot younger than they are supposed to be–particularly Brody, considering he spent five years in prison, for crying out loud! And at other times, they sound ridiculously like a detached observer.

I understand that the first person narrative, coupled with the stream of consciousness style rambling is supposed to allow the reader to understand a bit more about how the characters feel and think, but in this novel if felt more contrived than natural. As a reader, I prefer to see things than to be told they happen; by the time I hid the mid-point in the novel, the excessive navel gazing had worn thin for me.

So far we have predictable plot and so-so characters. Then we get to editing issues.

I don’t know if this book is self published or not, but I can tell you that some necessary editing didn’t quite happen. There were a number of misplaced comas, plurals instead of possessives, the dreaded ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’ (and vice versa)  etc. However, what really got on my nerves was the random word usage. ‘Idealized for ‘idealistic’ was pretty jarring, but the repeated use of ‘catastrophic’ for  ‘cataclysmic’ was more than I could take. I mean, “the kisses we shared were catastrophically phenomenal,” really?

Yeah, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the novel. It wasn’t so bad I dropped it and forgot about it, but it wasn’t good enough to truly keep my attention–I kept sneaking bits of re-reads of a couple other books, which is never a truly good sign.

Make it a Double gets 6.00 out of 10

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