…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
As the first British footballer to come out at the prime of his career, it helps that Ben Jimmer is in a long-term, committed relationship with university student Henry Brown. Even if that relationship is fake.
Question: Which book is at the top of the Goodreads list for m/m Debut Author Novel in 2014?
Answer: Pull Me Under by Zarah Detand.
Truth be told, Goodreads lists can be manipulated with self-promoting voters or their minions; sometimes it’s hard to know if the number one spots are occupied by authors who have a bright presence on social media and at other times it’s hard to figure if your tastes are simply too obscure or particular to match the general consensus or the reading populace.
Following on from that, picking up work by a new author can be risky business. Like a non-fatal version of Russian roulette – it can go either way. So did I end up taking a fictional bullet to the head, or did I dodge the bullet?
Let’s start by talking about the things that I loved about the story:
It’s really very sweet. From the main characters and side characters, to the situations they’re in, or the way their affections are brought to light – it’s all absolutely adorable.
Both main characters are vibrantly depicted. Henry is graced with reverent and blazing descriptions throughout. He is sweet as candy with dimples and a cheeky smile, sinfully long legs and tattoos. He’s also adorable and kind. He’s divine – so, essentially he’s all the things we love in fluffy romances.
But, MC Ben is the drawcard here. It’s his layers which slowly unfold. The way we see his fears and weaknesses, the things that make him tick. He is cheeky, snarky and dry-witted. We see him struggle with his feelings (not the fact that he’s gay) and while trying to negotiate through coming out in the public eye.
There’s a lot of fun to be had watching these two hunks play off each other and play each other off.
Now let’s move onto the bits that I could have done without:
Editing, or lack thereof. There are some scenes that could have benefited with a stern editing hand. It could have been tighter, more focused. Pivotal scenes could have had more direction. And the repetitive nature of the writing (or narrative voice) pulled me out of scenes…It was a killer, like, a real killer, like it could have killed me. Get my drift?
It felt loooong. At 359 pages, it felt more like 759 pages. See editing note above.
While I understand this is YA genre, I wish some of the language was a little more mature. “He contemplates rolling over and going back to sleep, because, like, ugh.”
I could have done without the drama llama, angsty angst caused by lack of communication. Why, oh why must it go this way? Why can’t the tension build some other way?
Sure, this could have been improved but as a debut release I think it did remarkably well. It held my interest, kept me guessing what tricks were up the author’s sleeve and wondering how they were going to reach a HEA.
Where does that leave me in the end? Did I enjoy it? Absolutely, yes. Will I read more of Detand’s work? Yes…
Detand’s second novel No Place Left to Run, is due for release March 24, 2015 through Dreamspinner Press.
After a lengthy world tour, pop star Samuel Gibbs is looking forward to a nice, quiet break—sleep in, write a bit of music, do his own cooking for a change. He doesn’t want his time spoiled by the constant presence of bodyguards, and he is certainly not willing to have someone tail him each time he so much as goes to the shops. No way, no how. It’s a good thing, then, that his head of security relents on the matter—or so he leads Samuel to believe.
The break is starting to look even better when Samuel runs into his new neighbor. Ryan Halston is smart and hot and, quite possibly, everything Samuel wants. However, he doesn’t know that Ryan is part of the rejected security detail, tasked with protecting him from the dangerous attentions of an unknown stalker.