Sandra @ My Fiction Nook

I like romance and boys loving boys in my books. 

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Lou Harper
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M.J. O'Shea, M.J. O'Shea
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ARC Review: Set the Night on Fire by Shannon West / Remy Deveraux

Set the Night on Fire - Shannon West, Remy Deveraux

Gosh, this could have been so good.


Alas, it suffered from plot line overload, tried to do too much within the number of pages and needed a serious editor/proofreader to fix the numerous issues I had with this novella.


First off, the POV switches - that didn't work for me. I found it difficult to follow the mindset of Michael's first person POV to Blake's third person POV. An omniscient narrator would have been better for this to give this book a bit more coherency. 


Secondly, the characterizations for both Michael and Blake were uneven and choppy, with some whiplash-inducing changes that didn't always make sense. And while the abuse and PTSD from his childhood would account for Blake's personality switches, there's nothing in Michael's past, other than his heartbreak, that would explain why he is trying to dominate Blake and force him into submission. Hence the dub-con tag on this - I couldn't help but feel that Michael was in a position of power over Blake from the start and that any intimacy that happened between them wasn't fully consensual, especially not in the beginning. 


Thirdly, the whole plot with Chad's group going into Blake's father's camp to 'free' the boys - while it sounded cool on paper, logically it failed to make sense. First off, most of the boys they rescued were over 18, legal adults. If I was supposed to believe that they were being held against their will, that wasn't explained very well. I realize that psychologically, they were beaten down by the dear Reverend's teachings and methods, and certainly afraid, but if one of them wanted to be dropped off at his dorm on the way out, what made him stay in that camp in the first place? 


Le sigh...


I can see where the authors had a great idea for a novella, and with a good edit to address coherency and consistency, this book could be great. I would also recommend expanding on the overall length, and delving more deeply into the relationship between Michael and Blake, instead of rushing this reader into sexual situations that at first felt a little dubious as far as consent was concerned. 


In quite a few cases, commas were either missing or misplaced in sentences, and I eventually stopped highlighting those areas. Dialogue felt forced and stiff on occasion, and the supporting characters weren't well fleshed out. While this made sense as far as the Reverend Tom Lewis is concerned (who is the villain of this story), the rest of the cast could have used a bit more characterization. 


I did like the relationship between Michael and Blake, and I liked that it wasn't all vanilla and insta-love, but that they had to work through some issues of trust and hurt. What I didn't quite get was the time frame - it wasn't clear to me how much time passes between the 'rescue' and the confrontation towards the end, which was slightly over the top. 


The writing itself is good and flows well, within the POVs. 


This is apparently a re-publication or possibly a re-write of a previously published novella called "Sins of the Father". As such, I expected more from this. I do believe this book has potential, within the plot and the overall idea, but should be revisited to address the issues outlined above. 


I received a free ARC from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return.