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.Unraveled by Lauren Dane
Series: Whiskey Sharp #1
Published by Harlequin Books on January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can't have
Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle's sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she's got it good.
But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.
Maybe's blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his even if she doesn't know it. Yet. He can't help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.
But Maybe's fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he's not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe's more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf and he's not afraid to ride the blade's edge to bind her to him."
It hurts me to rate a Lauren Dane title so low. She has some of my absolute favorite romances from the last few years. But this one just didn’t work for me.
First of all, in theory, I like the name Maybe. In practice, it’s really difficult to read. I had to reread every sentence that started with her name, which was frustrating. It was a little easier when her name was in the middle of a sentence because at least the capitalization would signal to my brain to read it differently, but overall, it made for an exasperating reading experience.
Maybe’s name wasn’t the only thing about her character that drove me crazy. She has this relationship with her sister that’s difficult to understand. We don’t get the full backstory here, but her older sister, Rachel, used to be an FBI agent. Apparently she was kidnapped and somehow injured, and has had a long recovery. But she’s fully recovered. Physically, anyway. She’s not working as an FBI agent again, she’s working as a tattoo artist, and she’s clearly still dealing with some PTSD. But physically, as far as I could tell, she’s fine now. Maybe and her parents have a terrible, hostile relationship, and somehow they’ve decided that Rachel’s issues are Maybe’s fault? They refuse to accept that Rachel is physically fine, and keep insisting that move back into their house so they can take care of her. Even though she doesn’t need to be taken care of. They won’t’ listen to anything either Maybe or Rachel say about it.
In fact, they’re so openly vicious and hostile to Maybe that it makes no sense for Rachel not to see it or know how it is. They refer to Maybe as a low-class drug whore, for fuck’s sake. How am I supposed to buy that Rachel just doesn’t realize how bad it is? According to Maybe, it’s because she hasn’t wanted Rachel to know. So in order for her to hide the full extent of their parents’ hatred, she… goes to see them with Rachel? I… I don’t know. I couldn’t really follow Maybe’s logic here. Their parents love Rachel; they treat her like the golden child. Fine. So when Rachel was recovering, Maybe didn’t want their hostility to interfere with that, so she let her parents treat her like garbage. And now that Rache’s fully recovered, Maybe still lets her parents treat her like shit so that Rachel….. I don’t know. Rachel’s the older sister. She’s physically recovered. Her parents treat her like she’s made of glass. So why Maybe things she needs to stand there and take the abuse heaped upon her makes no sense.
Her father is the one we see the most. And he’s a one-note, spittle-spewing, raving lunatic. And yet Rachel and Maybe continue to try and deal with him by explaining themselves and trying to speak to him logically. Which just pisses him off and makes him worse. And at the end of the book, he plays his trump card. He announces that since Rachel is refusing to see reason and move back in with her parents, they’ve consulted an attorney and they’re going to establish themselves as conservatorship over Rachel and her affairs, which…. What? This is ridiculous. Rachel went through a pretty awful ordeal. She’s fully recovered physically. She has a job, she pays her mortgage, she eats, she doesn’t really drink, she’s healthy… I just don’t understand how this entire plot makes sense. There’s no indication that her parents have judges in their pockets or can afford to pay anyone off to make this happen. You can’t just declare that a perfectly healthy, mentally sound adult needs a conservator because you don’t like the choices they’re making. It makes less than no sense. And since it was announced at the end of the book, I assume it’ll be the main conflict of the next book.
As for Maybe and Alexsei, their relationship was fine. It was almost completely conflict free. They decided early on that they wanted to be together, so they were. This was another issue with the book. Their relationship was great; I liked reading about them, but there just wasn’t much to their story. The middle dragged because they weren’t really doing anything except cutting hair and having (admittedly great) sex together. There just wasn’t any story there. ‘
I can’t decide if I’m going to read the next book or not. I do want to get Rachel’s full backstory and see her get her HEA, but if the main conflict of the book is going to end up being this fight with her parents, well. I don’t know if I care that much.