Monday, April 15, 2013

Real by Katy Evans

Why I read it:  I was offered a review copy from the author after I got caught up in the Twitter buzz.

What it's about:  (from Goodreads)  A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…

Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .

But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

What worked for me (and what didn't): I'm on a dirty talker hero glom at present.  Remy doesn't say much usually, but he likes to talk dirty in bed, or the shower or ... well, you get the picture.  Remy is also a bit superhuman when it comes to sexytimes (- his stamina rivals that of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, get me?)

Remington Tate is an interesting character, physically very strong and imposing and, in many ways, ruthlessly disciplined.  In other ways, Remy is out of control.  He is emotionally extremely vulnerable as well and that combination does tend to make a particularly yummy hero.

I was a little uncomfortable with the way mental illness was portrayed in the story.  I can see that Real is the first in a trilogy so perhaps my some of my concerns will be addressed in future books (where the 'medication' comes from and whether it is supervised by a doctor, being one example).  I have a friend with the same mental illness and I'm not sure it was a healthy or accurate portrayal. (But I admit I'm no expert here.)  

As to the healthy - well, Remy isn't healthy - emotionally that is (his body is otherwise a temple) and his messed-up-edness is part of the story arc.

From the moment he lays eyes on Brooke, Remy is hooked.  Brooke is instantly attracted to the face and form but resists the lust because she doesn't know the man.  I liked very much that Remy wanted her to know him before taking things to the next level - even though, after not very long, this is a huge source of frustration to Brooke. 
He grabs my wrists and angrily yanks me forward, pinning my arms down. “Why’d you want to have sex with me? To have a fucking adventure? What was I supposed to be? Your one-night-fucking stand? I’m every woman’s adventure, damn you, and I don’t want to be yours. I want to be your fucking REAL. You get that? If I fuck you, I want you to belong to me. To be mine. I want you to give yourself to me—not Riptide!”
The sexual tension builds and builds until it is not only Brooke who is frustrated.  For me, it went on just a titch too long and briefly crossed the fine pleasure/pain line.

When they finally do get down to it, oh boy.  It's messy and intense and compelling.  All that frustration released in a huge cloud of steaming steaminess.

For the most part the sex scenes were hot as all get out but there were some words/phrases that made me wince a little - "little kitten", "fissure" (this is not a sexy word in my opinion) and "he scrapes my inner channel" just sounds painful (- scraping being something I associate with a pap smear and hence, ouch and not sexy).  These are small niggles though.  (Also, biceps is always plural /end niggle).

At the end, I both did and did not understand Brooke's actions.  I don't want to give away any spoilers but after all the build up, I thought Remy deserved more from her.  On the other hand, things are messed up.  With a capital messed and up.

Brooke's protectiveness of her little sister Nora was powerful but I found it difficult to connect with Nora as she wasn't a very well realised character for me.  And her turn around seemed remarkably speedy.  Again - this might be further addressed in the second and/or third books.

Remy is such an alpha-carer that when he decides Brooke is his to care for, that includes her friends and family too - and I liked that as much as he wanted Brooke to be "his" and only his, he didn't try to cut her off from her loved ones - in fact, he went to considerable effort and expense to do just the opposite.

The fight sequences are gritty and raw and visceral and mirror in many ways the relationship between the two protagonists.

Still, Remy has darkness in him and I think Brooke's relationship with him is not without risk and I don't think she has a handle on it at all (which I thought showed her immaturity).  Could make for interesting reading in the future!

What else? Brooke is employed by Remy as his sports rehab therapist person.  I'm a little unclear on the ethics of the relationship from a medical perspective.  Maybe it's not a problem and it was more my lack of familiarity with sports rehab - I pictured Brooke as a sports physiotherapist and I think if that were the case, getting it on with your patient (employer or no) is probably frowned upon.  But if a sports rehab person is more of a personal trainer and less of a physiotherapist, maybe it's okay. But then, she has a Master's degree, so she's very qualified, which makes me lean toward medical professional.  I would have liked to have seen this addressed in the book.  Perhaps it will be in future installments.

There were parts of the book which bothered me a little (particularly the portrayal of mental illness) and parts that were compelling - Remy's need for Brooke is palpable even though there is only a brief part of the story from his POV right at the end.  I did feel his overwhelming desire and need for her and, as they did take some time to know each other before having sex, I did think there was more than lust that drove them.

I really liked the way they communicated through music.  Remy doesn't talk a lot.  He finds it hard to express his emotions.  He has spent a lot of time alone and closed off and music is his escape.  By sharing his music with Brooke and asking her to share hers with him, the characters explore their emotions without direct conversation.    And Remy's song to her (Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls) is particularly poignant as his secrets are revealed.  There is conversation later in the book - Remy gets downright talkative at one point but music remains a powerful communication tool for this couple.

Grade: B


Mandi said...

I didn't like this one really. Brooke was too immature for me and I don't think Remy's illness was fleshed out enough. And the whole sister thing? huh?

I dunno. Maybe I need a second book to understand things more.

Kaetrin said...

@Mandi - There were parts of it that worked really well for me and other parts not so much. I didn't like the way the mental illness was handled - that just seemed unsafe and unhealthy to me but I'm no expert. The sister thing needed a lot more exposition IMO. But I did like the connection between Remy and Brooke.

I am getting a little tired of the latest style of 3 books to tell the one story (a la 50, Crossfire, etc.) But I'll probably read the next one in this series and see how I feel from there.