Joint Review: A Year of You by Adra Steia

Posted September 28, 2007 by Casee in Discussions, Reviews | 13 Comments

Joint Review: A Year of You by Adra SteiaReviewer: Casee and Holly
A Year of You by Adra Steia
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 15th 2007
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The con was supposed to be simple: Get in, get the money, and get out.

When dark family secrets come to light, Mattie must be silenced. Someone will do anything to keep her mouth shut—even commit murder.

Asking for help will cost her as much as keeping silent. When the ones she loves are threatened, Mattie will have to become what she hates most to save them. Will she have the strength?

Casee: After my last review of a book by this author, I was hesitant to read this book, let alone review it as my 2nd review here at Book Binge. Alas, I couldn’t help myself when the other girls asked me to give it a try.

Holly: I want to start out by saying I loved Muse. It was well written and had a great creepy factor to it that kept me glued to the story and anxious to turn the pages. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for A Year of You.

I have one word for this book. Painful. This was like the worst train wreck in the history of train wrecks. As I was reading it, I forged on thinking that the book could not possibly get any worse. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 Casee: Painful is a great way to describe this book. That and confusing.

Let me tell you the plot, then I’ll get to the many issues I had with this book. It might seem a tad confusing…b/c, well, it is confusing.

Mattie Delacourt goes to Florida at the request of her estranged (and very wealthy) biological grandmother, Ruth Ellen McKendrick. Though she had no intention of going, she was blackmailed and threatened into it by her stepbrother. Though she is one of the long-lost McKendrick daughters, she’s posing as the other daughter, Elaine, who disappeared when she was 6. The daughter that she is not. Her grandmother wants Mattie to pretend to be Elaine while trying to find Elaine’s dead body. Mattie will do anything to prevent her stepbrother from harming her daughter, even if it means breaking the law. Desperate to get her hands on enough money to make him ago away, Mattie travels to Florida prepared to lie, cheat, and steal.

Total chaos and confusion ensues.

Holly: That’s an understatement of massive proportions.

The family dynamics here are completely dysfunctional. The reader is warned about this by the author in the beginning of the book. That wasn’t really my problem. My problem started on page 8. While Mattie’s stepbrother (whom she calls “K”), sends her off, we get a little family background. The woman who raised Mattie (whom at that point I thought was her mother), married K’s (I hate this nickname, btw) father 12 years earlier. Then we learn that K raped Mattie for the first time when she was 8 years old. That would make her around 20 years old, assuming that she was 8 when they got married. Not. It’s later revealed that she’s 28. Twenty eight. That’s not the only mathematical error here. You know the daughter? The one Mattie is trying to protect? She’s a product of one of K’s rapes. Still on page 8, we learn that Mattie’s daughter, Molly, is 14 years old. Fourteen. How can she be 14 if she didn’t even meet K until 12 years before? At the end of the book when we actually meet Molly, she’s described as a 13 year old teenager. WTF?

Casee: Really? I thought she was 13 when she got raped for the first time. I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention. Of course, it was kind of hard to pick up on all that kind of stuff when there was so much going on. Moving along…

After Mattie arrives in Florida, she quickly falls for Brant West, her half-sister Emeline’s boyfriend. West and Emeline have been a couple for three years. He is blind to her faults. Completely and totally blind. Unbelieveably blind. While the three of them plus a few of Emeline’s friends are at a nightclub, Mattie sees her getting it on with two guys. West refuses to believe his own eyes, even when Mattie points out that she’s wearing the same lime green that Emeline was wearing. Mattie ends up dragging West out of the club and into the car where (presumeably) they’re going to wait for Emeline. West is in denial. Then Mattie and West start going at it in the car. When Mattie starts performing oral on him, West is thinking “I hope you see this, Em. I hope you see your sister blowing me“.

This is about the time I started getting pissed off at the book. I mean, he catches the love of his life in an extremely compromising position with two guys and he still wants her? And the fact that Mattie went down on him while he was thinking about her sister just set the tone of the book for me….and it wasn’t pretty.

Holly: Seriously, could it get any worse? The answer is yes.


The book description describes West as a “moody musician” when he’s actually a business owner. He owns a nursery and landscaping company. While he does have passion for music, he puts everything he has into his business. So after Em’s father tells West that he’s calling in his loan (which will bankrupt him), he goes and proposes to Emeline. Who flat out refuses him. Says she can’t marry a landscaper that lives in a trailer. That she never intended to marry him. Just basically emasculates him. And he goes back for more. This guy has some serious issues. So he goes to find Mattie and spills out all his feelings. Mattie then offers to marry him. Sprinkled between all the dysfunction that’s going on, Mattie has learned that she has a trust fund of 3 million dollars. If she’s married, she can access the money after three months, thus saving West’s business. She offers West marriage as a business proposition. She also hopes it will help keep the money away from K. After West accepts, they go to tell the family and Emeline (who just refused his proposal 20 minutes before) tells him that he can’t marry Mattie, he is supposed to marry her. West starts changing his mind about marrying Mattie until Em’s father tells him that he will never let his daughter marry a man like West. So West goes charging off after Mattie again.

I can’t believe how hot and cold West ran. He wanted Mattie, he wanted Em. He was hot for Mattie, he was thinking about Em while they were making out. He needed Mattie for her money, but he wanted Em. ARGH!

Casee: During the wedding ceremony at the Courthouse, West stared at Emeline the whole time he was being married to Mattie. The wedding night? Mattie once again performed oral on him and when he didn’t return the favor, she pulled out a vibrator right in front of him. The rest of the book was so wishy-washy, I could barely keep up. One day West would decide that he couldn’t give Mattie up. Then Emeline would call him or he’d run into her and he’d forget all about Mattie. Another day, West and Mattie would be screaming “Bite me!” to each other, some name-calling thrown in between. West called Mattie a bitch at least once a page. Mattie said “Fuck you” just as often. I swear, I felt like I was watching fights between two teenagers. The phrase “Bite me” was used way too much. Way, way, too much.

Holly: I didn’t notice the “Bite Me” thing, but I couldn’t stomach the way West kept going back to Em. Talk about being in denial. Even after he realizes her true nature, he still pretends like she’s the best thing since a blowjob from Mattie. Funny how that worked out, huh?
Casee:Added to all this chaos was K calling Mattie wanting to know where his money is. K sent someone to “remind” Mattie that he was waiting. This guy, posing as a delivery driver, poisoned six of West’s dogs (killing them) and almost killed Mattie. When West got home and found his dogs dead, he immediately started screaming at Mattie, thinking she killed his dogs b/c she was scared of them. Obviously the fact that she had bruises around her throat where someone tried to strangle her didn’t register. Ooookay then

Holly: .Meh, I skimmed this part. Ok, well, I pretty much skimmed everything after this part, too. I just couldn’t deal with West. Or Mattie. Or the rest of the fam damily.

Casee: A few days after that, Mattie was abducted from her grandmother’s nursing home, while waiting for West (who was with Emeline) to pick her up. Beaten up and left by the side of the road, West vows that he won’t leave Mattie alone to be hurt again. Yeah, that lasted about a day. When Mattie is driving home from the drug store after buying a pregnancy test, someone runs her off the road. She crashes through some brush and into a tree. When West arrives, all he can think about is that Mattie purposely wrecked the truck that was all he had left of his dad. Seriously. That night while they’re having sex (after West accuses Mattie of all sorts of wonderful things), West calls her “Em”. Lovely. Just lovely. The next day, West goes back to tow the truck back to his property and finds a disposable cell phone that K gave Mattie. He calls, wanting to know who it is and K tells him that Mattie is his, blahblahblah. Then he goes to Mattie and tells her that he wants answers. She tells him a little bit of what she went through as a child. West was properly horrified.

Holly: Describe “properly horrified” for me, will you? Because I must have missed the memo. Especially after what happens next…

Casee: Though his wife has almost been killed at least three times, all West can worry about is Emeline. When it comes to light that Mattie is a McKendrick and Emeline is, in fact, not a McKendrick, West tells Mattie that her coming to Florida ruined Emeline’s life. This guy really has his priorities straight. He’s also crying while he’s telling her this. Though he just found out that a sociopath is after Mattie and she’s pregnant with his child, he’s worrying about Emeline.

Again with the Emeline. I mean, the woman was a straight up psycho bitch. She was selfish and immature and often threw temper tantrums. She wanted to party – and party hard – and wasn’t concerned at all about West, or anyone else. As long as it made her happy, that’s what counted. I think the worst part of it for me is….West admits to himself more than once that Em isn’t who he makes her out to be in his mind. He admits she’s selfish and immature. He admits she cares only about herself and the only reason he’s so obsessed with her is because he did nothing to save Elaine (if you remember from above, Elaine disappeared when she was 6 and Mattie is pretending to be her while she searches for her body). He feels responsible for what happened to Elaine because they were close and West thought he saw something strange the night she disappeared, but didn’t tell anyone. So it isn’t Em herself he loves, but instead he’s obsessed with protecting her, as he didn’t protect Elaine.

Then the shit really hits the fan. K arrives with his goons and abducts Mattie and West. They soon learn that Emeline has also been abducted. K insists that Mattie pretend that she’s kidnapped Emeline for money. While West and Emeline are tied up, Mattie is gang raped in front of them. West is more concerned about Emeline than the fact that his wife was violently attacked. When Mattie convinces K that there is money to be dug up on West’s property, she goes to say goodbye to West, knowing she’ll never see him again. What does he say to her? You guessed it…”Fuck you”. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?! He just saw the woman he apparently loves, his PREGNANT wife get raped by at least 2 men and he says “Fuck you”? OMFG.

Holly: This is where I completely lost it and said “fuck this, I’m not reading anymore”. Not because Mattie got gang raped. I mean, that sucks big donkey balls, but I wasn’t horrified at the violence. I was horrified at West. Emeline was FINE. There was nothing wrong with her. But Mattie, the woman he married and the woman who is pregnant with his child is brutally raped in front of him and his only concern was for someone he described as selfish and hurtful?

But even worse, IMO, was Mattie. Because through everything, the con, her abuse from K, her constant lying and manipulating, she continued to believe she was being strong, that she would move on with her life and that she was doing the best thing she could. But she never once stood up for herself. She never once said, “fuck you” and meant it. She never once considered walking away or leaving West or telling him to back the fuck off. Not one time. A woman who does that, no matter what she tried to tell herself, it isn’t a strong woman that just puts up with that kind of abuse – and the way West treated her was abuse, even if he didn’t harm her physically – isn’t strong or brave, she’s just stupid. And after she was gang raped, and West was more concerned for Em that he was for her, she just went on her merry way, still accepting him and wanting to be with him. Who does that?

Holly: If you’ve stuck with me this far, kudos to you. I haven’t even gotten into all the subplots or the subplots of the subplots. The inconsistencies in the book were amazing. In one scene, Mattie dressed in jeans and a tank top. In that same scene, while West and Mattie were walking around the property, they started going at it against a tree and West put his hands down her loose gym shorts. I had to actually go back, thinking I’d missed something.

That’s just the tip of the ice berg. There were so many inconsistencies and plot holes I was tempted to bang my head against the wall.

Casee: I would give this book a DNF, but I finished it. Unlike Holly, once I start a book, I’m in it until the bitter end. I actually liked Steia’s book, Muse, better than this one. Though I gave Muse a 1 out of 5, the writing wasn’t bad at all. This seems to be written by a different author entirely. She also needs to get a new editor b/c some of the grammar in this book is atrocious.

Holly: I am giving it a DNF. I just couldn’t finish. I think I ended up skimming to…I don’t know. I know I couldn’t get to the end, though.

I would strongly advise all of you to steer clear of this book. I’m honestly surprised this is written by the same person who wrote Muse. The writing itself seemed choppier, the dialogue lagged and the spelling and grammar were the stuff of nightmares. Not to mention the characters. *shudder*

Casee: 1 out of 5

Holly: DNF


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13 responses to “Joint Review: A Year of You by Adra Steia

  1. Wow you two.

    Although, I somewhat have to agree. I’m still reading and I’m so confused. I keep going back to reread parts thinking, “did I miss something?”

    West going back and forth with his feeling for Emeline and Mattie are driving me batty.

    I say somewhat agree because I haven’t finished yet.. so we shall see.

  2. Ouch.

    Ya’ll missed something…the part at the beginning of the book where it clearly says these characters are dysfunctional. I didn’t mean that as as they are slightly screwed up and end up normal at the end. They are…highly dysfunctional. West is meant to be a stubborn, selfish, asshole who can’t see past his own dick. This is supposed to be that way through the whole book.

    I don’t agree with what you said about Mattie’s character. BUt it’s your perception, so who am I to argue? Same thing about the writing. It’s a ‘voice’ thing. Choppy was intentional.This isn’t the same kind of smooth, sweeping novel that Muse is. The grammar was supposed to be bad, slightly rough, and definitely uneducated. LIke I said, it’s your perception and I can’t change that.

    I can only ask that readers give Year a fair chance. Out of six reviews, this has been the only negative one. Every other review has been five-star.



  3. Me too. He’s an dickwad of the lowest caliber. I’ve never refered to him as the ‘hero’ of this novel, but as the ‘male lead,’ cuz he sure ain’t no hero.

    This is a nonconventional romance. Two screwed up characters with some pretty unredeemable flaws. Mattie’s a victimized wuss and West’s a domineering a$$hole. They’re perfect for each other….

  4. Rowena

    Yeah I’m totally skipping this book because I like to love my heroes…so yeah, not going to touch it.

    Thanks for the heads up, all of you (Izzy you too!)


  5. Wow. I got a headache reading that summary. I can’t imagine how much more confusing the actual book might be, but I don’t want to find out. Maybe some people out there don’t mind having the “male lead” be a jerk, but I’m not one of them. I like to fall in love with my male leads, and West doesn’t seem the loveable type.

    Great review you two.

  6. I think my problem w/ Mattie stemmed from the fact that she was at first portrayed as a strong character that was unable to get out of a situation where she was victimized, then it changed. Then she was a “victimized wuss”. So here I was thinking that she was taking these steps to get away from being a victim, then it would just change. She would just accept that she would never get away from K.

    I really don’t understand how West could be written as uneducated when he obviously grew up in a sort of privledged way. Though his family didn’t have the money that the McKendrick’s did, he was intertwined with that household almost his whole life. So the “redneck speak” just came off as false to me.

  7. Anonymous

    That was how I wrote Mattie. She would never be able to make the final step to get away from K by herself. She had to be forced into it. At the very end, she finally found the strength to do it. She needed West, needed his approval and his dependence on the few things she had to offer. She was so desperate for any sort of acknowledgement from him that she took his crap.

    Ya’ll both said ya’ll skimmed the end and/or didn’t finish it… ya’ll missed a LOT of the subtle things that showed character growth. It literally took until the end of the book for West to see he has something special in Mattie, when he saw her sacrifice.

    Cheap writing trick, but it worked for this story. West is a hard head and needed a swift kick in the balls. West isn’t an asshole all the way through the book. He does have his good moments, and he does show MAttie he loves her. He screws up tragically, like human beings are liable to do.

    He’s not an unforgivable character. If you’d read the entire book either literally or without the firm decision that you hated the book, you would have seen his redemption.

    I really wasn’t going for redneck with West. He talked like…well, the people around here talk. He thought like people here think. His background is public school, community college, and working menial-labor jobs that are generally done by immigrant laborers. He had enough exposure to the lifestyle to be able to coast through fancy situations, but that’s it.

    Through most of the book, Em and McKendrick kept him at arm’s length. Only Ruth Ellen had anything personal to do with him. He grew up in a shabby trailer, and then lived in one as an adult. I wouldn’t say redneck, but definitely not upper crust.

    The end of the book is the kick. Mattie FINALLY triumphs, but just as is seems like she’s goign to slide right back into her bad habit, she does find the strength to make it.

    I’m not saying anythign about your reviewing skills, but ya’ll missed ALL the things that every other reviewer picked up on. The plot’s confusing, yeah, but not THAT confusing. I’ve read mainstream NY books that had my head spinning. I can take a bad review– Casee, I took your review of Muse with grace and humor–That’s just part of writing life, but I don’t understand how ya’ll both managed to miss so much about this book when no other reviewer or reader has.

    Could be the skimming? Not finishing it, maybe? I really don’t think ya’ll gave it a fair chance becuase it didn’t match YOUR specifications of a good book early on. To advise people to ‘steer clear’ of a book is really unethical and just plain mean.

  8. I disagree about it not matching my specifications for a good book early on. I just expected to like it. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out that way.

    I thought West would realize the person Em was sooner, and take charge of his life, not sit around and whine because he hadn’t gotten what he wanted. I thought he’d stand up for himself – and Mattie – and act like a real man. You’re right, we did see flashes of a good man in West. I was rooting for him in the beginning of the book.

    Sure, he was blinded by Em, but as the story progressed and West realized more and more the true person Em was, he should have manned up.

    I disagree that West sounded uneducated. I didn’t notice that at all. But there’s a difference between dumb and just plain stupid. West was just plain stupid. To pine away after someone like Em…that wasn’t smart at all. But beyond that, how can a man, regardless of his personal feelings for the woman he married – or her sister, for that matter – not completely freak out when his wife – his PREGNANT wife – is raped right in front of him? How can he curse at her and be more worried about her sister – who was fine, with nary a bruise to show for her ‘adventure’- than the mother of his future child? That’s so not hot.

    And beyond that, Mattie really just traded one abusive relationship for another. Maybe West didn’t physically harm her like K did, but he was verbally and mentally abusive. And she just took it. I would have been more satisfied with the ending (which I did eventually read) had Mattie just walked away from them all…walked away and never looked back. As it was, the person I thought she would be, well, never materialized. Instead she traded one bad situation for another.

    I do have to say, however, on a more personal note:

    I don’t understand how telling people to steer clear of a book is unethical. Mean? Maybe. But I read the book and that’s my opinion. Unethical, though? Not at all. Once again, this is a review site. Reviews are subjective to the readers opinion.

    In my opinion, this wasn’t a book worth spending money on. It’s all over the place, with constant inconsistencies and grammatical errors. The characters are dysfunctional and show no growth. The plot is just plain ol’ confusing.

    But you know, the beauty of this site – and all the others out there – is that our readers are able to form their own opinions and make their own decisions. I wouldn’t recommend this book, but that doesn’t mean someone that reads my review won’t decide to try it anyway. And there are enough people out there who know me and are familiar with my reading habits to try this just because I didn’t like it.

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much. A review is a review. Good or bad.

  9. I’d like to point out that I read the book from front to back. No skimming. So I would say that I gave it a fair chance since I read the whole thing.

    I disagree w/ Holly. I don’t think recommending that people steer clear of the book is either unethical nor mean. It’s just the truth. It wasn’t said w/ malice. As reviewers, we give our opinion to our readers on whether or not a book is worth their time and money.

    While I was reading the book, I vaguely understood what you were trying to get across. West’s feelings for Emeline stemmed from his relationship with Elaine. Obviously he was traumatized as a child, losing his best friend. So he took it upon himself to be Em’s protector and it went up a step from there. My problem was his total lack of self-respect when it came to her. All she did was emasculate him time and time again. And he took it. I found it hard to believe that a character as proud as West would continue to go back for that. It just didn’t ring true for me.

    As for the ending, I agree that Mattie did triumph. Still, West was party stuck on Emeline which was AFTER he was at Mattie’s bedside for weeks. That is one of the things that was confusing to me. Why would he cry with her, sing to her, take care of her and then when she wakes up, just be gone?

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