Eclectic, cross-genre mood reader (but of late, mostly erotica, romance & para/UF—including m/m & ménage). At times, the realities of life & work tend to dictate how UNreal a world I choose for an escape.
Fair warning: I may walk like a lady but I cuss like a salty sailor. ^.~
Ambivalent. That's the word which best describes how I felt at the end of RED by Kate Kinsey, a NTM author.
Part of my ambivalence about RED is that it seemed to try for too much so that the sum of its parts ultimately diluted the individual elements. So as much as I wanted the "WOW", it didn't quite get there.
But there are many aspects about RED which appealed to me and I snickered at certain banter and asides. And I particularly loved the various quotes and excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. (I would never have had BDSM and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the same thought!) So I would recommend RED to anyone who enjoys suspense mixed with a bit of romance and/or kink. I look forward to the next book by Ms. Kinsey, a smart and refreshing writer with much promise. Definitely like her style and philosophy.
First and foremost, RED is not erotica, despite a few erotic moments and the frank and explicit words used to describe sexual activities and events. I point this out only because some readers may be bothered by such language in books, even if I'm not.
RED is a murder mystery—specifically, a police procedural told from the male protagonist's POV (think James Patterson's Alex Cross series)—about a serial killer whose victims appear to have only one common denominator: the BDSM lifestyle. (In this sense, the plot loosely reminded me of Evangeline Anderson's “Dangerous Cravings”.) This revelation creates the opportunity for Tom Hanson to re-connect with Gina Larsen, his former partner and lover, for help in navigating the local BDSM community. As expected, past feelings are resurrected during the course of the investigation. I pretty much guessed most of the plot twists but was engaged enough to finish so to learn the how and why.
RED works in an "Introduction to BDSM", pinpointing certain stereotypes, misconceptions and behaviour primarily through the various characters (some better drawn than others), as well as insights into what happened with Tom and Gina in the past. While I understood the author's intent, I felt that some of the discussions weren't critical to the main goal of solving murders and only served to slow the pace of the book. Tension would build up with each new lead or twist in the investigation and then deflate as the "action" derailed temporarily to focus on the BDSM aspect.
Lastly, the side plot of the renewed relationship between Tom and Gina further weakened the book for me. What I assumed was meant to be the pivotal turning point didn't work for me because there wasn't enough before or after it to document and substantiate the change in mindset and resolution of past/current hurdles. Based on what was provided, I think that I would've more easily accepted Tom and Gina simply resolving past hurts. As for the end scene... well, I'll have to see if my suspicion is correct.
TECHNICAL: Very well-written. But odd and single-sentence paragraph structuring impeded smooth reading in many places, especially when the speaker and the actual dialogue were in separate paragraphs. At times, kept having to pause to confirm which character went with which dialogue. A final, more aggressive editing pass may have produced a much tighter story.
* ARC provided by NetGalley on behalf of the publisher/the author.