My rating: 2 of 5 stars
**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
This book had so much potential, but sadly it fell really short for me. J.T. Baroni is a good writer, but a bad story-teller - at least in this book. The story of Jack Trotter and Amber Fontana could have been amazing. It had all of the elements: a budding romance, an evil nemesis, an incredibly difficult and imaginative con act. But the plot was ruined by unbelievable situations and a main character that came across as a major douchebag. Plus, there was a huge detour away from the main part of the story that unexplainably went in to minute detail about Jack Trotter's family history. I felt that this was not necessary to the story at all, and in fact just sort of led the reader on a wild rabbit chase.
First, I'll list the positives to this story as I see them: The good twin, evil twin scenario in the book was very interesting. It has been done to death, but this had a fresh spin on it that I enjoyed. I also enjoyed most of the character dialogue. Several times I laughed out loud at a witty line from Amanda or Jack. Once again, I feel like I need to repeat that this story WAS very well written - but smooth flowing words across a page does not a good story make.
Now for all of the things that I strongly disliked about the book. Right off of the bat, Jack is introduced as a meat-head ex-marine that is now a Narcotics detective. He works out all of the time, and has no problem telling himself how hot he is.
"You should be in the movies, you good lookin' sum bitch. I could co-star with Vinn Diesel. He could play the part of my baby brother. But of course we would both fall in love with the same doll, and after a fifteen minute car chase where my Mustang blows off his Charger, I'd naturally have to kick his ass, and ride off with the bit*h!"And then, as if we didn't feel beaten over the head with the fact that this guy is hot, there is the weirdly out of place Judy Sloan. She is Jack's nosy neighbor who masturbates every morning while watching him walk home from the gym. She is only in about three scenes in the book, and never has any real interaction with Jack, besides him wondering why she is always looking out her window at him. She really served no purpose in the story, other than to add a WTF factor.
Another big problem jumped out at me from page one. It did get a little better the further I got in the book, but it was so annoying that it still bothers me even now that I'm done with the book. I can give it to you in one word: ellipsis. They were all over the place, literally. I kid you not, here is a sentence of dialogue from the book, copied dot by dot.
"Hey, uh, if you're free this Saturday, maybe we could, uh, you know...do some benching...We'll put three hundred on the bar for you...And I better have my stuff...by then, or you...are...going down!"**Face-palm.....** (And don't even get me started on the uh's)
One of the other huge problems I had was Jack's homophobia. It came out of left field, was never explained, and was demonstrated very offensively. The first indication that he was a homophobe was in the form of this quote:
If there was one thing Trotter absolutely detested, it was homosexuals. Especially the males. Lesbians intrigued him. He made it very clear to Jonny to stay away. "A man is sick in the head if he wants to suck another man's di*k," he stated matter of factly to the beautician.Then Baroni proceeded to drop the f-bomb several times, and I'm not talking about the "eff you see kay" kind. (And of course he is disgusted by gay men, but turned on by lesbians. What a very stereotypical straight male point of view!)
And the big one, the numero uno reason that this book tanked for me, was the unbelievable and totally unrealistic way that Jack's impotence and Amber's abused past was dealt with and resolved. Jack is a forty something year old man who has had two sexual encounters with women his whole life, and both times couldn't perform. He can only get an erection and ejaculate by masturbating. Amber was nearly raped as a teenager and is still a virgin into her mid-twenties. But yet, we are to believe that mere weeks after meeting each other, Jack and Amber are going to spend about thirty minutes psycho analyzing each other, and then hop into bed and have sex, with all of their very serious issues and hang-ups solved. And bear in mind this was the first time they had EVER been physical or tried to do anything other than be friends. Gimme a break. Not only were my eyes rolling back in my head over the absurdness of this scenario, but I also found it pretty offensive that it was suggested that issues like these can be just hopped, skipped, and dry-humped over whenever the time is right.
I really wouldn't recommend this book unless you have nothing else to read. I'm giving it two stars simply because it had so much potential, and there were parts that I did truly enjoy. (Plus, it makes me feel bad to give one star reviews) :)