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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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Maybe I’m Just Too Anal

Posted May 23, 2007 by Holly in Discussions | 15 Comments

I had Barbara Freethy‘s Taken TBR, and decided to try it, since I’ve heard great things about her and I need to get out of this slump.

The Prologue was pretty good, and had me really curious about the book. Then the first chapter started and I was dumbfounded.

You see, Kayla marries a man, Nick, after knowing him only three weeks. We’re told it’s because for once in her life she wanted to do something daring, something impulsive. Only, Kayla just seems dumb. After reading 122 pages I’m not at all surprised she married a man after knowing him such a short period of time. Not to say that doesn’t work for some people, but this particular man, the one calling himself Nick…well, he’s not really Nick at all. His name is Evan and he’s a sociopath who excels at stealing other people’s identities and fleecing unsuspecting victims of money and possessions.

But Kayla, our very smart, dedicated, straight-laced, overly cautious heroine, she doesn’t see any of the red flags he throws out. She simply sees a charming man who loves her…and well, she loves him too.

Nick (Evan) leaves her on their wedding night. 2 weeks later she stops by his house to see if he’s finally come home and surprise, surprise..he’s there. Only the Nick who answers the door isn’t the Nick she walked down the isle with. And this is where I had to suspend all disbelief.

Here’s how it plays out:

The Nick Kayla married is really a guy named Evan who knew the real Nick in college. Evan got tangled up with Nick’s sister and ended up going to jail for it (I didn’t really understand this part. Either I would have had to go farther in the story to get all the details, or the explanation we were given just plain sucks. But from what I understand, Nick tried to warn his sister away from Evan but she didn’t believe him. Then something happened and his sister got stabbed and Evan just left her bleeding on the ground while he saved himself. Evan went to jail because of Nick’s testimony…for what? I have no idea, no one ever said) and now, 12 years later, Evan stole Nick’s identity, spent a ton of his money, and married Kayla using Nick’s name.

Nick calls the police but they tell him they can’t really do anything for him. They’re unconcerned. So he decides to figure it out on his own. He tracks Kayla down (she ran from his house) and together they start trying to figure out what Evan’s game is.

Now, I’m ready to throw the book against the wall:

1) The police don’t care that Kayla’s husband disappeared. Now, I can believe this of the Tahoe cops (that’s where they got married) because a lot of people cruise up there to get married and I’m sure a lot of men run out as soon as they realized what they’ve done. But once Kayla got back and reported it to the San Fran police (where both her and her hubby-of-one-day live) they didn’t care either. They threw her report into a stack of thousands.

Now, maybe I’m a bit biased because I have insider info here, but if someone was reported missing and they’d been gone 2 weeks with no trace, I’m pretty sure the police would have at least contacted their family. In this case, that would be Nick’s sisters (I think he has three) and his parents. But they were never notified. The cops never bothered to run his name or see if he had family or anything. This wouldn’t have happened.

Same with Nick’s complaint about his identity being stolen. Again with the insider info, but when a fraud report is made, the cops have to log in every single account that was stolen from (i.e. credit cards, bank accounts, etc). They have to spend hours writing reports with all the info listed and the victim of the theft has to then report it to their insurance company and respective credit card companies/banks. But when Nick reported it, the cops just shrugged it off and said they had other things to worry about. Which is just bullshit. But even beyond that, Nick never even bothered to see just how much was stolen. He didn’t spend days going over all his account statements looking for fraudulent charges. He just rushed over to Kayla’s house and started badgering her about her relationship with Evan and some pocket watch she gave him, which he believes is the whole reason Evan was with her to begin with. And at first it was “He took quite a bit” and then it was “I’m destitute” only he hadn’t checked to see just how much was taken. And he keeps saying, “I don’t even know what the damage is yet”. Well, dumbass, that’s because it’s only been two days since you got back from Africa (where he’s been for 3 months, building a bridge) and you never bothered to check your accounts to see exactly how much was stolen. Fucktard Which reminds me……

2) The characters are retarded. Nick is convinced the pocket watch Kayla gave Evan on their wedding night is the whole reason Evan married her. He figures this out because Kayla says that’s the only thing she gave him. So they confront her grandmother, who’d given Kayla the watch to begin with, and she basically acts all scared and tells Kayla to drop it. Huh. Cuz that makes sense?

Then we find out the grandma was a stripper back in the day and the watch was given to her by someone other than her late husband (Kayla’s grandfather). Grandma is terrified for her granddaughter’s safety, so she goes back to the strip club she once worked at and asks her former best friend from her misspent youth (who owns the place now) to help her. Only the friend won’t because Grandma acted like she was better than everyone and turned her back. But still she doesn’t say anything to her family and just goes on her merry way.


3) Nick and Kayla start investigating the watch on their own and track the symbol on the back to a local jewelry store. The agree to meet at a church before going to the shop and Kayla sees a nun who has Evan’s eyes and is wearing sneakers walk by, then she’s knocked on her ass by a bible that was thrown from the balcony where an organ mysteriously started playing. But she convinces herself it was “just an accident” and they proceed to the shop like nothing happened.

Once they reach the shop it’s obvious the owner knows something, but they just shrug that off, too, and go have lunch together.

4) Nick’s sister was fucked over by this Evan dude and ended up stabbed and left for dead because of him (or by him, or something) and yet, she still “loves” him, twelve years after the fact. And there’s still “good in him, you just can’t see it”. Evidently Evan calls her out of the blue to wish her a happy birthday and she tells him her brother is doing well, which is why Evan is back all of a sudden. So now she’s terrified Evan is going to hurt her brother (because of several phone calls with Evan she tells no one about) but she just wrings her hands and says, “Oh no!” What.the.fuck. A man who was responsible for you almost dying 12 years ago suddenly pops back into your life and is fucking your brother over and you DEFEND him to said brother and then PRIVATELY worry about his safety? I don’t think so. TSTL anyone? But I don’t want you to take my word for it. Have a look-see:

She put up a hand, reading is mind. “Okay, maybe I was naive once, but I was a kid then. I’m an adult now. I know that Evan is a thief. I also know that he has a weird code of honor that you couldn’t possibly understand. And,” she added with a touch of defiance, “not everything or everyone is as black-and-white as you like them to be. Evan did have good traits. He wasn’t all bad. He treated me very well at times. I think his childhood had a lot to do with the kind of person he became. It wasn’t his fault that he was abused and abandoned, that he had to grow up on his own in a very tough world.”

“You don’t know how bad is childhood really was,” Nick argued. “Everything that came out of his moth was a lie. How do you know what the truth is? He told you what he wanted you to believe.”

“Not everything was a lie. I knew him better than you did, Nick.”

“You think a man is going to tell you the truth just because he has sex with you? God, Jen, that’s when most of the lies are told.” He saw the hurt on her face and almost regretted his choice of words, but she was caring him. Knowing that Evan was back in their lives, knowing how close he’d come to ruining her once, Nick couldn’t bear to see it happen again. Jenny was weak where Evan was concerned. “You can be so smart about everything else; why can’t you see Evan for who he is?”

“I think we’re done,” she said with a sharp, irritated edge to her voice. “you’ve made your point.”

Before she could get to her feet, he put a hand on her shoulder. “One more thing, just in case you’re thinking this is all some attempt by Evan to get back into your life. You should know that he married someone else using my name just two weeks ago, about the same time he started sending you gifts.”

“What?” she asked. “What did you say?”

Nick frowned. Jenny seemed more surprised by this piece of news than by the fact that Evan had robbed him.

This is a man who was responsible for you almost DYING and that FUCKED YOU OVER. Not yesterday, not a week ago, but TWELVE FUCKING YEARS AGO…are you REALLY that stupid? Seriously?

5) After the church/jewelry store incident, they go back to Nick’s house to do some research on the internet and then Kayla decides she’s had too much excitement for the day and wants to go home. Nick follows her to make sure she’s safe and once they get home she sees her house has been broken in to. They don’t call the police, though. Instead, Nick goes to search the house to see if the perpetrator is still there and Kayla gets attacked by some big guy….

Who turns out to be an FBI agent Nick went to college with (this FBI dude also knew Evan). Only they don’t ask to see his ID. They just go, “Whoa, really? I thought the cops didn’t care about our mess” and FBI dude says, “Well, that’s before they knew it was Evan. I’m on the case now, though. I’ve been tracking him for years.” But uh, with the stupid shit he’s done so far, I could have freaking caught him. So yeah, I’m not buying it.

This is where I stopped. I checked the Amazon reviews for this book and 90% of them were golden (with the exception of one which just pissed me off and will probably spark another post down the road). I also found a review at The Romance Reader and although the reviewer didn’t just rave about the book, she seemed to enjoy it for the most part. Crystal really seemed to enjoy it, too.

So, I ask you, is it just me? Am I too anal? Am I the only person who notices the things listed above?

Because I’m curious, I’m willing to send you my book so you can read it. If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I’ll ship the book to you.

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Edited: Taking A Break From Romance…

Posted May 21, 2007 by Holly in Discussions | 1 Comment

..to bring you this literary masterpiece.

I have no words…but that’s alright, because a picture speaks a thousand of them…

Edited because the links weren’t showing. You really need to see this…children’s book for yourself.

*Special thanks to KateD of Damned Scribbling Women for bringing this wonderful book to my attention.

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