Friday, December 5, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Rule by Jay Crownover

So I’ve had the sample of this book on my Kindle for a long time but always held off making the actual purchase. I always read reviews (the good and the bad) before buying, and I’ll admit that the extensive comments about the editing probably kept me from purchasing it sooner. A few minor flaws that can be easily brushed over once caught up in the story is one thing, but it seems that previous editions of this book had major problems that ranged well beyond that.

But when I saw it on the Black Friday sales lists I figured it was time to give it a try as the sample interested me in the story. What I found is that the current edition appears to have been thoroughly edited to the point that the previous issues of readability no longer applySo as I set out to write my review, I knew addressing the editing update was crucial, but with over 5,000 reviews on Amazon and Goodreads combined, I pondered what else I had to offer in a review that hasn't been said before. I still planned to leave one as I enjoyed the book and the author deserved the credit and support with a positive review. So I perused the previous reviews a little deeper and found a few misconceptions about the content floating around that deserves to be addressed because honestly if I had found those reviews before purchasing it might have stopped me from buying and that would have been a shame since they really are non-issues and nothing that inhibited my enjoyment of the story.  Because they may be construed as spoilish, I’ll save them for the end of this review. Till then it's safe to keep reading…
5 Stars

Rule is the story of Rule Archer and Shaw Landon.  Shaw is the only child of affluent, elitist, judgmental divorced parents; Rule is one of three sons in an equally dysfunctional but circumstantially different family struggling with the death of his twin brother, Remy.

Yes they all have obscure, trendy names but hey I give the author points for originality, and it’s better than some I’ve read which I’m not going to name names. (Pun intended.)

Much like their names, the characters are distinct. They are well developed with many layers. Rule is a one-night stand, bed ‘em while he’s drunk, kick them out in the morning kind of guy. Right off the bat you know that his character will have to grow and reform. His behavior isn’t endearing, but it is one part of Rule’s many layers, and it doesn’t take long to see that there is so much more beneath the surface that Rule is afraid to bring out. His lifestyle is just as much about living for himself as it is a wall to protect himself and deflect from dealing with love.

What I wish would also have been updated when the new edited edition came out was the cover. It does not do the Rule described in the book justice.  The guy currently on the front is way too tame looking and not someone that would really stand out if I saw him somewhere, yet Rule is frequently depicted as someone who does. Alternating hairstyles including a Mohawk that changes color; tattoos and piercings from his head to his…ah you can use your imagination; Rule is distinct.

Shaw is an equally complex character. While some will view her as weak, I think at the core she is actually fairly strong for all she’s endured emotionally over the years. She has a very limited support system, and she’s kept a lot inside.

Their relationship is intense. He hasn’t been very nice to her over the years while she’s struggled with a love for him that’s been unrequited.  That is until one night when Rule sees Shaw in a totally new way and it wakes up a few things inside him, his man parts included. There is no insta-love here. They really have to work at a relationship and they make mistakes a long the way. The sex scenes are not graphic and yet they ooze chemistry and feel deep.  
“She kissed me like she had been created to do it exactly the way I liked and matched my rhythm the way only people who’ve had lots and lots of sex together normally managed to do.”
Told via Shaw and Rule’s alternating first person point of view, this is a new adult novel that veers on the angsty side but not over the top angst. Just the struggling to find your place in the world, forge your identity, and be your own person kind of angst that comes with the territory of that age range. And living up to expectations is a huge theme of the novel.
“We were both people trying to live beyond the boundaries everyone else seemed to want to set for us…..We both desperately wanted to be seen for the value we had without other people’s expectations of what we should or shouldn’t be doing,”
Shaw struggles all the time to not disappoint her parents but remain true to herself. Rule disappoints his parents constantly, but he doesn’t give a damn if he isn’t who they want him to be. Yet when faced with the boyfriend role he risks changing who he really is.

There’s a decent bit of back and forth between Rule and Shaw and while it’s a tad frustrating because once invested in their characters and the struggles they are going through, you want to see them work it out. Because there is a strong sense that if they can work out a relationship then they’ll be the best thing for each other. 
“…but if it’s good, it’s gonna be so very, very good.”
The side characters round out the story well and set the stage for future books in the Marked Men series. Rule is lucky to have friends and a brother that tell it too him straight or it would have probably taken him a lot longer to take a chance with Shaw. 
“Rule, any chick who can put up with the headache that is you, well I’d put a goddamn diamond on her finger.”
I enjoyed the banter between the guys, and I adored the moments when Rule's sweetness came through. The story is very engaging; I shifted back and forth from wanting to stop and savor it to wanting to keep turning the pages to see how it unfolded.  I adored Rule’s attitude and how he didn’t let propriety/conventions bring him down.

Both characters come with baggage and working through that fuels the plot.  Will Rule’s mother ever have an epiphany and show her son love and acceptance? Can Shaw stand up to her parents?  Can Shaw and Rule stand together and flip the finger to her parent’s high society life or will her stalker ex get the upper hand? (Oh I really wanted to see Polo Shirt go down).

If you enjoy a deep new adult read with gritty characters including a a motley bad boy, a story that is largely character driven with a touch on the angsty rather than light-hearted, this is absolutely one to pick up. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

1-click a copy of Rule and check out the other books in the Marked Men Series 
Jet (#2)  AMAZON       GOODREADS

Review Continued....*Spoiler Section*

This would be the point to stop reading if you feel certain things are spoilers. However, if you are more concerned with things that may be ‘deal breakers’ when purchasing and spoilers take a back seat, then keep reading.

So what items/comments did I come across in other reviews that would have given me pause if I read them first? Well there were two items that cropped up enough times that I felt it warrants a clarification as I’d hate to see it defer a reader from giving this book a chance.

Non-consensual sex?
I even saw the word rape used a time or two in regards to Rule and Shaw’s first encounter. While Rule’s inner dialogue ponders that he’s taking advantage of Shaw because she’s drunk, it’s firmly established both before and after it happens that it is most definitely what Shaw desires. The alcohol she consumes merely lowers her inhibitions and allows her to go after Rule after all these years. So if you define getting it on with the boy you’ve lusted over since you were 14 while slightly under the influence, a non-consensual sex act then I guess this book has it. But that’s not how I define it.  To be perfectly clear: She’s not drugged; she’s not coerced; and she’s most definitely not forced to give her virginity to Rule.

I was worried about this because Rule’s character is set up as the type of guy who just can’t do monogamy and commitment. And there’s plenty of foreshadowing that it may happen. Again it depends on your definition of cheating. Rule kisses a girl not long after they get together and pretty much immediately owns up to it to Shaw while seeking forgiveness. Is it cheating? To some degree, yes. Do I like cheating in my romance novels? No. Did this sour my enjoyment of the story? Not really. It’s not detailed or drawn out and Rule makes pretty clear several times that he can’t bring himself to sleep with anyone but Shaw after they are together the first time. Now that’s how I like my romance stories. The fact that Rule does struggle internally with the monogamy issue; well I think it goes along with his character as he’s been described.

No comments:

Post a Comment