Can you tell that Instagram has been fueling my TBR pile? Or did I just give myself away?
This week, we’re cracking open A.L. Jackson’s, “Give Me A Reason”. It’s the first in the Redemption Hills series.
I would like to preface my review by acknowledging some of my own biases. There are some things that were not to my specific taste – I share my opinion because I know there are other people out there who feel similarly. However, my own biases did not come into my overall rating and “assessment” of the book.
The story surrounds Trent, the brooding club owner with a dark past and Eden, an elementary school teacher with a sunny disposition who is down on her luck. That’s how they happen upon each other. Eden is desperate for a job that will get her quick money, and he is desperate to get her to run as fast and as far the Hell away from him as possible. Trent has a history riddled with bullet holes and body counts, and enough baggage to build a mountain to the moon. Even still, Eden can’t help but see the good in him. Especially when he’s around his son, Gage. Before long, their instant physical attraction blossoms into something more. Dragging the innocent Miss Murphy into the crosshairs of something far more sinister than the once-was MC VP.
First things first, credit where credit is due, the writing in this book is absolutely stunning. The flow was gorgeous, the cadence was magnificent. The voice was raw and real. I love when you find an author whose style is so unique, you can pick their writing out of a line-up. That’s what I found in “Give Me A Reason”.
Trent’s and Eden’s story was a slow burn, but with the book being such a page-turner, I hardly noticed the hours I spent devouring every word. I was sad to see the final page but delighted to get the ending I had been rooting for. They were lovable. Heartbreakingly beautiful. It’s virtually impossible to read this book without feeling something for the cast Jackson created.
I will caution those who dislike nicknames. I, personally, have a vendetta against “princess” and “kitten”. Nothing makes me want to toss my lunch more than that. I almost put the book down after the first few pages, but I told myself it wasn’t fair, so I closed my eyes really tightly and pretended that no nicknames were exchanged in the novel. At all.
The only reason I am not giving this book a five star review is because I took issue with two things: the episodic scenes and the dialogue.
I don’t mind episodic scenes (scenes in which the writer will show you another place at another time, seemingly in the middle of a scene or overarching narrative). In fact, some of my favorite books of all time rely on them heavily. What I didn’t like about this particular use of them was how Jackson switched from first person to third person tense. I had grown accustomed to reading in the, “I watched as the car rolled down the street” and then was slapped with, “Trent watched as the car rolled down the street.” It pulled me out of the story entirely, and every time I had to refocus on the scene. I also didn’t understand why the tense would switch at all, given that we are still following the same characters. These were their memories we were reading about and I was left wondering if we were meant to assume that Trent/Eden were having a sort of out-of-body episode as they recalled it. I was lost as to whose lens/narrative I was meant to be observing through and it was enough of a head-scratcher that it took away from my experience as a reader.
Next, the dialogue. At this point y’all are probably tired of seeing me complain about the same thing. But seriously. I, as a reader, have always needed the characters to feel real for me. And if their speech sounds like they’re an actor from Medieval Times or William Shatner’s understudy, I just… I’m not here for it. I lose all will to believe these characters are at all for real. I’m talking eyes glaze over, sock puppet hand. All that jazz.
I will say that this wasn’t entirely the case with Jackson, though, I still have a bone to pick. Jackson writes so beautifully and tried to carry over everything into the dialogue. So much so that I was just left watching two lovelorn people shouting legitimate poetry at each other. Which would have been nice if left as little breadcrumbs – these profound moments of impassioned speech. But it was all the time. Nonstop. It just suspended reality too much for me, because all I could think as I read was, “Who talks like this?”
I just wish Jackson would have allowed it to be a bit uglier. A bit rougher. A bit more real. Sometimes it’s the feeling the absence of words makes that makes the scene.
Overall, it was a technically well written book, with excellent pacing, brilliant storytelling, gorgeous characters with an even more gorgeous love story. I could not put this book down from the moment I cracked it open. I would definitely recommend reading for yourself. And I’m greatly looking forward to the installment in the Redemption Hills Series!
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