Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blindsided by Sayer Adams

Why I read it:  I saw it recommended in a list of rock star hero books and bought it for 99c from Amazon a while back.  I had a hankering for a rock star and Mari Carr's Fix You wasn't released yet, so I picked this up.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Can two people who can't overcome their own pasts help each other move on and find happiness? When a disillusioned rock star is confronted by an anxiety ridden travel writer, he has a week to prove he's not one of the bad boys she's sworn off. But first he has to convince himself and find out why she's running herself into the ground by running around the world.

Chelsea Spencer is a travel writer who has spent the last six years traveling at a punishing pace that leaves little time for food or sleep. When her body shuts down in the Australian Outback, her doctors give her strict orders to stay put for two months. Chelsea complies by staying in Seattle with her brother, but for Chelsea, stopping is more hazardous than running. Old anxiety and panic fueled by feelings of helplessness flood Chelsea when her mind isn't otherwise occupied and the months seem like torture. All she wants is to get back on the road without any further complications; like a broken heart.


SPOILER WARNING:  I can't truly explain my thoughts about this book without giving spoilers.  You are warned.


What worked for me (and what didn't): The premise of this story hooked me.  We have a Rock Star who looks like a bad boy, complete with tattoos, muscle car and Harley but he's sworn off one night stands and hasn't been with anyone for two years.  Chelsea has been burned by bad boys and, suffering from exhaustion from overwork, she's not up for a relationship. She knows a bad boy will break her heart and she hasn't the energy.   Nate has to convince her he's reformed - he has all the bad boy sex appeal with none of the risk.  So, I should have enjoyed it.

Well, there were parts of it which I did enjoy.  Some of the descriptions were sensual and painted a great word picture - like this: 
She ran her hands over his skin as if she was receiving oxygen through her fingertips.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Location 1187).  . Kindle Edition.  

or this
She tried to keep her tone light to hide her fear. She was fairly certain that rock stars, like Rottweilers, could smell fear. Then they’d exploit it and seduce you right out of your underwear, your common sense and your heart.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 258-260).  . Kindle Edition.

The sex scenes were very steamy and I quite liked Nate as a character.  He'd grown up on the streets and realised that his default reaction was often anger.  Because he was trying so hard not to scare Chelsea off, to convince her to take a chance on him, he made serious effort to reign in his anger and to be the man he believed he could be.  His story arc was interesting and (mostly) consistent.

Where the book let me down was with Chelsea's character.  We are given glimpses early on that Chelsea is suffering from some kind of illness (which turns out to be exhaustion - but a very serious version of it) but we don't know the reason for it for a long time.  She's gunshy of bad boys but her worst experience was with an uptight preppie type guy.  And it turns, out that he's the reason (in a roundabout way which I found a little hard to fathom) for her exhaustion.  She hasn't dealt with the trauma of her relationship with Brandon and by the end of the book there is still no talk of therapy or anything which might actually help her.  

When Nate is finally allowed to know what her problem is, his solution (which Chelsea takes up) is, to say the least, a little off the wall.  

Okay, one last spoiler warning before I plunge in.

It's been 8 years since Brandon physically assaulted Chelsea and tried to rape her. There is no physical evidence, any criminal prosecution would be her word against his (and I don't know whether the statute of limitations is an issue either - the book didn't specify) so Chelsea accepts that's not an option for her.  Chelsea says she won't make public (to Brandon's bosses) what happened if he gives her a written apology, acknowledging his wrong doing in glorious detail, agrees to get - oh, you won't believe me so let's get it from the horse's mouth shall we?
“I want a written apology. I want to know you know what it is you did. I want you to donate money to a victim’s assistance program. And I want you to sign up to take a rape and violence prevention course. I want you to learn to respect women, Brandon. Because you’re right, no court would sentence you after all these years and no physical evidence. But I know that you haven’t changed since then, and I don’t want other women to be hurt by you. I want you to include that you will do these things in your apology letter. That’s what I want from you, or I tell the partners about you.”
Of course, Brandon says Hell No.

Then Nate and Brandon get into a fight, Chelsea agrees to forego the apology letter in return for Brandon not pressing charges against Nate and all is okay becaues Chelsea has confronted Brandon and is safe with Nate.  The end.

That whole subplot seemed forced to me and it didn't make a great deal of sense to me.  Chelsea literally worked herself to the point of exhaustion running away from the trauma of Brandon's actions but there was no talk of any kind of counselling.  If Nate's mighty wang of loving hadn't helped (and it didn't because she continued this behaviour after they got together) then surely counselling would be a worthwhile option?  And, really, did she SERIOUSLY think Brandon was ever going to hand her written proof of his assault which she could then use against him to have him prosecuted or to take a civil action?  It seemed like the whole thing was there to create tension but the interesting tension was between Nate and Chelsea and it revolved around bad boys.  And while Brandon was bad in the douchebag sense of the word he was in no way a "bad boy".  So why was he the one which caused all the angst?  Would it not have made more sense for Chelsea to have had bad experiences with, you know, actual bad boys - and for that to be the barrier?  The thing was, there were bad boys in Chelsea's past, but they were glossed over and instead we got sleazy Brandon. 

Much more could have been made of Chelsea standing up to her mother instead of running away but that excellent conflict opportunity was mostly glossed over too.  (Even though Chelsea's running away from her mother was kind of immature, it was a source of conflict).

There was also an unnecessary and very briefly drawn subplot involving Chelsea's brother Tony and his "sometime girlfiend" Jen - they had been dating on and off for 10 years, lived in different states and for the life of me I could not see why Jen had put up with Tony's vacillation for so long.  There wasn't enough of the storyline to really explain it and that page time could have been better devoted to the main couple I think.

One other thing I'll mention which I found a little odd.  The book appears to be set in 2005 (although I had to do algebra to work that out).  Because Chelsea is 27 and was two years older than her 1980 VW Rabbit.  The book was published in 2011 but there were some things which felt a little dated - for instance Nate didn't use a computer.  Nate is only 39 so it seemed a little strange that he wouldn't have anything to do with computers - especially being a musician.

So there were some story and characterisation problems but there were also some really good things in there too.  So maybe a C+.  Maybe I wouldn't have been quite as bothered by the strange Brandon plot if not for the huge amount of grammar, typographical and editing errors  And they were legion. In fact, they deserve their own category.

The editing: There were a lot of typos, many sentences which were missing words and some sentences which were almost incomprehensible.  Here's some of the examples I highlighted.

From his limited experience, he assumed that this would be when she would straighten herself up, but she didn’t. What was bothering her that pulling herself up wouldn’t help her? It seemed to fix everything else for her. Too bad that didn’t work for him. He’d love it if he could straighten his shoulders and she’d come running back to him.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 1366-1368).  . Kindle Edition.

 They had talked for an hour and a half about mostly nothing, followed by ten minutes of tight, angry words. Which was par for the course. Despite having grown up together and knowing almost everything about each other, theystill found enough to talk about, albeit in a kind of verbal shorthand that only the two of them understood. Even their arguments were conducted in a protracted language now.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 1511-1513).  . Kindle Edition.

 If she wouldn’t be leaving for Korea in three weeks, she’d bring Nate over to her mother right now.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 1738-1739).  . Kindle Edition.

Despite Nate’s very obvious temper, every minute she spent with him made it harder for her to right him off as just another garden variety asshole.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 1740-1741).  . Kindle Edition.

He was skillful as ever, his lips teasing hers, tender and unrelenting at the same time, his tongue pressing her lips apart to find the inner warmness of her mouth.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 2000-2001).  . Kindle Edition.

Her face belied her true feelings towards him.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 2619-2620).  . Kindle Edition.

Maddy was beautiful, but the longer she looked at her, the more she could see the hallmarks of her age, a certain wiseness to her eyes, even if there were no crow’s feet, and a certain confident set to her jaw.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 2649-2650).  . Kindle Edition.

Though clearly, his preference for women didn’t keep him from ogling anyone with breasts.
Adams, Sayer (2011-03-16). Blindsided (With the Band) (Kindle Locations 2692-2693).  . Kindle Edition.

Brie from Romance Around the Corner recently talked about readers not putting up with bad editing, particularly in self published books.  This is one of those books which could have been vastly improved by a good editor.  Even if it only cost me 99c, it still cost me my time.  And, really I can't recommend it.   Because we deserve better as readers.

Grade:  D+

No comments: