Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
*UPDATED 10/8/15 w/Book Review
*UPDATED 10/8/15 w/Book Review
It was heartbreaking.
It was something that was forbidden in that time, and in that place."
Once the Savages were national darlings, undisputed Hollywood royalty.
But that was a long time ago.
Today we are broke, scattered and ruined, nothing but a cautionary tale and tabloid fodder.
However, we’ve been offered a chance to redeem ourselves. All we have to do is open the door and let the cameras in.
It's everything I've tried to escape from.
I know our sh*t will be laid bare. Yet I can’t say no to family.
There’s another complication as well.
He’s not my blood. He’s more. He is forever intertwined with my soul.
No one knows why he disappeared years ago.
But I do.
I just don’t know why he’s back...
Loren “Ren” Savage is the oldest daughter and second oldest sibling of the current generation of Savages, once Hollywood starlets, now Hollywood has-beens or, for this generation, never-was. Oz Acevedo used to be Oscar Savage till his young world was spun on its axis once again and he was “disowned” by the family. They once converged in a dusty, desolate, desert location just outside of Consequences, Arizona. And five years later when reality television comes calling, a series of new events are spun in motion.
The book pulled me in from the start. The author does a fabulous job painting a picture of a Hollywood legacy family and their scandalous history. (Think more the Barrymores than the Kardashians). Now I’m not typically someone who follows real celebrity gossip, and I can see through the contrived and superficial nature of reality TV much like our heroine so the premise of this story wasn’t necessarily the appeal. But the scenario for this second chances/love-hate relationship was a nice break from other more familiar plot troupes.
The Savages are a family of diverse characters with colorful ancestors and histories.
“Nobody who spends twenty-three years on this earth is a blank slate. We are the sum of our pains and trials, joys and heartaches.”
Both Oz and Ren have intriguing backgrounds that are fairly original as far as contemporary romance characters go, Oz’s personal background developed slightly fuller than Ren’s. But then some of what is not divulged about Ren is what’s over divulged about Oz.
“‛What’s that mean?’”
“‛Means you talk like a man whore sometimes.’”
While there are thankfully no scenes depicting his manwhore ways, lord are there enough references to it, as well as to her brother, Monty’s, in almost every chapter. This type of male characterization is becoming pretty trite, and I felt like it took away from the “romance” at hand. When Oz isn’t monologing his tendency for meaningless and unmemorable hook-ups or hurling reminders at Ren, he’s a fairly engaging character with distinct hints at gained maturity and the desire to look beyond past wrongs and win the girl.
“Once I told the girl I loved that she’d never have to see me again. That’s a promise I should have broken a long time ago.”
Statements like that made we swoon, but I wanted more moments like those. We hear about their heartache, but are never much shown their romance. I could feel their hurt and pain, but it was a struggle to feel how they came together or what made their connection so intense. There is a slow build to their confrontation in the present, but not enough build up of their original falling in love. I had moments where I couldn't put it down and other moments where I wanted to skim.
A part of the failure in this may lie in the development of the five chapters set in the past. Those parts only provide a glimmer of their initial relationship and not much substance for why it was special. These sections also break away from the alternating first person POV via Ren and Oz, and are told in third person. It’s a distinct change; the voice detached and the sentences choppy. I felt like a weird voiceover had taken over. Admittedly I’m not a fan of 3rd person in a romance book so if you read them frequently than perhaps it won’t cause as many difficulties. But it definitely took me out of the story, a stark contrast to the other chapters’ narration.
Overall, the bones are here for a real five star novel. An eclectic cast with colorful ancestry; conflict both internal and external; the setting well described and fairly unique for this genre; the symbolism inherent in the town names as well as the family’s and the irony of a reality show set in a fake town.
“We would say fuck the consequences together and then suffer the moral wounds of our own stupidity when we learned that reality is far messier. In reality, consequences fuck you.”
Most certainly it’s an interesting story with melancholy overtones, but as far as a love story goes it misses the mark in the areas of steam/heat as well as sweet swoon-worthy moments. That’s not to say there aren’t some of them there, there just isn’t a lot. Or enough to excel the story to a higher rating.
Born Savages is a standalone, but more books about the Savage family saga are planned. At the end, the author poses a question to readers about which brother to feature in the next one and readers can cast their vote for Team Spencer or Team Monty. This wasn’t a hard choice for me. Spencer, the lonesome cowboy, has potential, and there are far too many references to Montgomery Savage’s manwhore ways for me to find any love in a story about him. Aside from one brief reference to some integrity he had as a child, his portrayal in this book makes an interesting supporting character to some degree but as a romantic lead or potential book boyfriend he’s totally gross! But give this first story a whirl and decide for yourself…
He’s nothing but casual as he steps from the far side of the truck. He sees me but doesn’t seem surprised.
I, on the other hand, am quite surprised. Even though I’ve fantasized this meeting six thousand times I’m still stunned. I shouldn’t have been.
“Loren,” he says and his voice cuts me in half. He knows it. His grin is as devastating as it ever was. I can see in an instant that he’s both different and the same. His mouth still tilts into a mocking smile automatically.
But there’s a wide chasm of time between us. Somewhere in that deep gulf we went from being soul mates to being strangers. I know nothing about the way this man’s body would feel under my hands. Whatever agonies he endured after the terrible night he left, the night I coldly ordered him to leave, belong to him alone.
“Oscar,” I whisper and I don’t miss the way he stops walking, or the way his face freezes. Maybe he has an entirely new identity and the sound of the old one is unpleasant. Or maybe he’s hardened by the sound of my voice. It’s probably easy for him to hate me. This could be the start of some elaborate revenge. Obviously it’s no coincidence that he’s here now. While I’ve been wondering how I’m going to make cleaning horseshit look interesting for two months, Gary Vogel, knowing more than he ever hinted at, was scheming behind the scenes, ready to drop a bombshell. The only demand I’d ever uttered was ‘No Lita’. I should have figured out what else was up for grabs.
The cameras are here, ingesting every second. I have to say something. I have to do something. I have to not fall to my knees or run into his arms. Especially because he’s done nothing to invite me there.
“Welcome home,” I finally manage to say and it sounds strange even to me because this was never home, not really. It’s just a place. That’s all it ever was. It only matters because of the things that happened here.
Oscar Savage stares at me from ten feet away. He looks me over shrewdly and I wonder if he sees more than a pathetic woman who has signed her private life away.
“Are you staying?” I ask him, clasping my hands behind my back to keep them from trembling.
“I am,” he answers and there’s an edge to the words, like he’s daring me to argue. He watches me, all six foot two inches of bristling, resolute maleness.
I couldn’t move him if I tried.
~About the Author~
I love wild romantic stories, grunge era flannel, my vintage Kenmore sewing machine, embroidered dishcloths and absolutely everything that has to do with 1980s pop culture (i.e. leg warmers, scrunchies, big hair, early Madonna, boom boxes, wood paneled walls, stonewash jeans, etc).
If you believe in Happily Ever After and the unique magic of a John Hughes film, chances are I'll love you too!!
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