I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Way Down Deep by Charlotte Stein, Cara McKenna
on June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
An erotic romance…told entirely through text messages.
The words he typed were never meant to be read, yet they found their way to her. Two wounded strangers, prisoners of their own lives, brought together by a wayward text.
Without ever hearing each other’s voices, a friendship blooms between them. Without ever seeing each other’s faces, an attraction grows. Without ever touching, the two become lovers.
But when words suddenly aren’t enough, will this bond be able to tear down the walls that keep them apart…or was it only ever fantasy?
I’m a sucker for epistolary novels. So when I heard about this new book by Charlotte Stein and Cara McKenna, I knew I had to try it out. I wanted to see if the authors could make an entire erotic romance novel work using just text messages. Did they succeed?
Well, sort of. Malcolm and Maya meet through a wrong-number text message and the relationship grows from there. They both have the requisite tragic backstories, and for various reasons aren’t in a position to actually meet each other, even though they seem to live in the same city. The messages go from basic “I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to” texts to really personal to erotic very quickly. Quickly in terms of actual days Malcolm and Maya are texting, not in terms of the text messages themselves, which… Wow. These text messages were like no text messages I’ve ever seen. Each text went on for pages and pages. I didn’t expect an erotic romance told in text-speak and emoji, but these were a little difficult to accept as text messages. Email, sure. Hand-written letters between lovers in the time of carriages and wax seals, definitely. It was a little difficult to believe that these were text messages, especially in the beginning when they were strangers. And it’s not about full sentences with correct grammar and punctuation. I send text messages like that. But no matter how grammatically correct my text messages are, I feel guilty if they’re more than a sentence or two. They’re text messages. If you need to be longer than that, take it to a different medium.
This style of story-telling also didn’t allow for anything else. No internal dialogue, no descriptions of the characters, no idea what they do for a living, no way to get to know them beyond what they say in their text messages to each other. I never connected with either of them.
The tragic backstories provided a reason for the two of them not to meet, but the underlying issues are never really addressed, and Malcolm and Maya end up being crutches for each other more than helping or healing influences. When it comes to psychological issues and mental illness, lover does not conquer all, and I came away from this book with no faith that these two could make the relationship work in the long run, whether they ever meet in person or not. Their individual issues are too big and there’s nothing to indicate either of them are getting any help. If anything, it’s the exact opposite.
Bottom line, this was good it wasn’t great. The sex was hot, but for me it lost a little bit of the heat because I knew it was just text messages between two people who had never met. Something about that was a disconnect for me. I understand sexting, I know it can be hot, it just loses a little bit when I know they’ve never even met. Sexting between people who also sex is one thing. I’m quite sure there are people who will disagree with me, but that’s ok.