Patty: Remember when we read that witch-hunter/slayer/chakra book and we bitched about how it was basically a mish-mash of every PNR trope ever troped? You would think this would be like that but no. I mean, there is m/m romance, GFY, alcoholism, a social class divide, SEC regulations, paranoia, kidnapping, family dysfunction and yet somehow, it all worked.
It should be all:
But it ends up being being all:
Katie: Ruben is really struggling – with life, his place in the world, what he wants to be when he grows up, etc. In his early 40s, he’s had a hell of a wake up call and is imposing on his brother in every way while trying to make a fresh start.
Andy is a financial advisor (or ninja, or something) and has decided he is in need of a bodyguard after some unsettling events. Ruben is assigned to him, but right away feels like he isn’t being told everything.
Patty: Andy is a hedge fund manager. He’s also old money, trust fund wealthy. Like, personal-shopper-at-Barney’s wealthy. He holes himself up in his penthouse and lives a very extravagant but secluded life.
Reuben’s brother owns a low budget security firm and Andy hires them because he thinks he’s being targeted by… someone… because. Something. The walls have eyes.
Patty: Suede has a way with words. You often hear “show, don’t tell” but he takes it one step further and feels, doesn’t just tell. He can pen a character’s internal monologue so that it completely and totally puts you in sync with where they are and what they are going through emotionally. He has a quirky way of writing which incorporates onomatopoeia brilliantly (which is not an easy feat) and he is never the Eye in the Sky: a narrator who knows better than his characters. He lets them work through their messes organically and with no assumed or inferred plot goal.
Katie: I can’t swear to this – never having been – but I get the feeling that Suede is doing a bang-up job of describing the Big Apple. His descriptions of the different parts of the city are so well-crafted that you practically feel the hot sidewalks under your feet while being surrounded by hundreds of people. I practically had a panic attack just reading them. The City itself is definitely a character in this book.
One thing that Patty and I absolutely agree on is that Suede has done an excellent job of portraying a recovering alcoholic and the struggles that entails.
Patty: He was very respectful and precise. He never dove into dramatics which would have been easy, turning Reuben into a sad-sack, After School Special stereotype. The way he chronicled his recovery was morbidly interesting and authentic.
Katie: It’s true, Suede is very good about giving you inner dialogue and thoughts for his characters, but the way he drops it in the middle of someone else’s verbal dialogue without any cues is very disconcerting and confusing. It was way too easy to lose track of whom was speaking or thinking at times. I think this was probably intentional, to make things more confusing for the reader (the Mystery is given almost equal weight to the romance here), but I was just aggravated by it.
Here’s the real problem for me: I didn’t like Andy. At all. That could be me, though. It could just be my feelings about Wall Street are imposing themselves where they don’t belong. THEY’RE NOT. HE’S A STINKER.
Patty: What?! Why? I liked Andy. He used his power and wealth for good, giving obnoxiously wealthy assholes the proverbial finger and Reuben a kick-ass makeover.
Katie: No, honey. He was a con man. And not in a friendly, Hollywood way. It wasn’t a Robin Hood take from the rich, give to the poor con with no consequences. It was an I’ve been doing bad things to bad people, but it’s still catching up with me and I want out so I’m going to do these things in this plan no one else knows about even if it means my personal assistant gets slapped around for working late or my boyfriend gets beat to hell and back for no good reason. Andy wants you to think he’s a good guy, but he really just wants things to go in his favor. If the bird gets flipped at the super wealthy, that’s just a perk.
Look, I don’t mind a bad boy. You can’t enjoy romance novels if you do, for God’s sake. What I do mind is one who isn’t willing to own it.
Patty: Hmmm. OK, I’ll half-heartedly agree with you on that. And yes, the dialogue was sometimes hard to follow and I found myself re-reading certain passages trying to figure out who was saying what. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that even though it’s written in the third person, you got the sense that it was really a first person narrative. When a character spoke or thought, they took over. Like I mentioned before, Suede isn’t a puppeteer: he may be putting the words down on paper but these characters are telling their story.
One niggle I had was the use of certain Spanish phrases. Though Reuben had Colombian parents, he himself didn’t speak a lick. Andy did and would toss phrases around, trying to ‘teach’ Reuben. Here’s the thing: there’s informal and formal speech and a phrase like “Se siente cachondo”, without directly referring to the subject, could mean you feel horny or he/she feels horny or it feels horny and it would have been been better to employ the personal and say “Estas cachondo” (the verb estar vs ser) which would have made it obvious who Andy was talking about and I know BUT I CAN’T STOP MYSELF and run-on sentences aren’t a thing in Spanish so feel free to take a breath now because I’m done.
Katie: I didn’t hate it – there were parts I actually really appreciated – but I didn’t love it like Patty.
Patty: I loved it like I love pie. And I really, really love pie.