Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review- In the Eyes of Love by Sheri Livingston

In the Eyes of Love
by Sheri Livingston
June, 2006
Contemporary/ Lesbian
60K- $5.99

Buy it Loose-Id, Fictionwise, ARebooks

When Morgan’s lover leaves her after nine years, betrayal drives her deep into work and denial. She’s not looking for anyone else, because she’ll never forget Dawn.

Shane is an artist, content in her world of line and form. Though lonely, she blames herself for the death of her ex and can’t see past her guilt.

Morgan’s job at the magazine brings her and Shane together. The attraction is undeniable, the passion explosive.

Now that Morgan’s found someone else, Dawn desperately wants her back. She uses every dirty trick, pulls every sexual string, and Morgan takes her back. But she can’t stop thinking about Shane…


First, the blurb is a bit off. Morgan, after years of being clueless that she’s been with a narcissistic bitch, walks out on her long time partner after she discovers for the first time that she’s been cheated on. Dawn didn’t leave Morgan, but stalks her constantly trying to win her back.

It’s been a year since Morgan told Dawn to go to hell, but she still cannot let go of her and walks around with a sad face thinking about Dawn all the time. Her friends who all love her, hover around her and intercede often trying to protect her from Dawn, but she keeps going back.

Morgan works for a popular magazine and has been trying to get an interview with Shane, a well known artist who keeps blowing her off for some reason. Shane did go to meet Morgan, but seeing Morgan from behind and the sadness in her eyes through the glass reflection, ran fearing the intense attraction she felt. Shane’s got her own big ole sad past that’s unresolved and feeling this kind of attraction again is something she’d rather avoid.

Dawn, who’s basically a sociopath, has been with Morgan since high school and is obsessed with her. But Dawn comes on to and sleeps with anything that is female and is alive because she can and just to be nasty. She feels that she has a right to do as she pleases, while keeping Morgan all to herself. So she does what any person like that would do, she stalks and harasses and preys on Morgan’s feelings and inability to let go, constantly.

Ok, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this story. Obviously I’m doing a review so I did find it compelling enough to finish it, but it did push a few of my buttons. It’s one of those things that I’ve come to know in many lesbian stories as estrogen overload. It seemed like one long emo fest, with a few bright spots of budding love.

This story started out great. I really liked Morgan. She comes across as tough and savvy in her work even if after one year she cannot stop thinking about Dawn. And in the beginning Shane is also a very interesting character. She came across as a powerful eccentric type who had a lot of intrigue about her. After Shane and Morgan meet though, which is fairly early on, it kind of goes in fits and starts from there.

Morgan spends most of the story pining after Dawn and Shane intermittently. She’s trying to break away from Dawn while opening up to Shane, going back and forth and back and forth. I seriously felt that she deserved Dawn after a while. Why would you keep feeling something so strongly for someone and even consider going back after being cheated on for ten years? 10 YEARS! Not to mention the whole creepy, controlling, stalker thing going on.

And then there’s Shane’s super secret past. Through most of the beginning of the book there are just hints of some painful experience. We soon find out though, that Shane has been blaming herself for what happened with her last partner, who by the way, was no better than Dawn. Shane's still carrying a torch and blame for what happened to her ex, putting her on a pedestal as if the ex was any kind of a decent person herself. Her ex cheated on her all the time and cruelly told Shane what a loser she is and to deal with it or get lost.

What’s with all this love and pining over people who basically are/ were a shit and didn’t/don’t know the first thing about love? Instead of coming across as damaged and sympathetic, both Shane and Morgan came across as pathetic after a while.

Morgan and Shane’s way of relating was often also very frustrating. Shane comes on to Morgan straight away after they meet and Morgan is very attracted. They have one beautiful night of really hot sex, both opening up to each other emotionally and all seems great. But then Shane goes all iceberg on Morgan’s ass right after, which throws Morgan back into Dawns arms. Why? Shane does this several times; blows hot and cold. She loves Morgan, but feels that Morgan will hurt her by going back to Dawn, so she cruelly blows her off time and again only to keep perpetuating her fears about Morgan going back to Dawn.

Neither one of them will openly express what’s really going on, but constantly hint to each other that there’s reason for each of them to fear loving each other. They are both feeling insecure about each other. But instead of trying to alleviate the other’s fears, they hold back from saying what’s going on. *Headdesk*

I really have a hard time with the big misunderstanding trope that could easily be dealt with by opening the mouth and talking a little bit. I get that it’s an author’s way to keep up some tension, but for me that frustrates more than keeps me interested.

I know this looks like I hated this book, but that’s not true. A lot of it did annoy me, however, there were some really good moments in this book that did keep me turning the pages.

Those times when Morgan and Shane were in alignment and flowing together were very nicely written. Very loving and sexually hot. And it was clear that both really want and love each other. That’s what kept me reading this story. There were just enough of those moments that it did give me a better overall impression than other specifics that bothered me.

If you like the kind of story about a lot of emotional love drama then I think In the Eyes of Love will be a satisfying read. I wish there would have been more of Morgan and Shane and their budding relationship with less of the negative angsty drama, but this story still worked for me on some level.

Sex rating: orgasmic- f/f, mostly vanilla, some minor anal play. It was pretty juicy vanilla though.

Grade: B for technically being nicely written, C for the story itself.

6 comments:

M. A. said...

What’s with all this love and pining over people who basically are/ were a shit and didn’t/don’t know the first thing about love? Instead of coming across as damaged and sympathetic, both Shane and Morgan came across as pathetic after a while.


*cringes*

I don't have a problem with a character leaving an abusive relationhip--or coming to grips with realizing a former relationship was an unhealthy one. But a lot of what you've described sounds like soap opera drama to me.

I wrote a novel subplot with a sociopathic minor villainess who is ultimately dumped by her long-term lover, and I was careful to keep the subplot low key because the last thing I wanted was for my audience to perceive the lover as dumb or pathetic instead of a man who finally opened his eyes to what he preferred not to see, recognized it wasn't good for him, and gave up on it.

I was also careful to develop the sociopath's more attractive qualities (note: most psychotics tend to have high verbal intelligence and lots of superficial charm) so that readers might understand how smart, likeable, strong characters could be "drawn into" relationships with them.

I like your review and I appreciate the story held some appeal to you, but I don't think this is for me.

MB (Leah) said...

I don't have a problem with a character leaving an abusive relationhip--or coming to grips with realizing a former relationship was an unhealthy one. But a lot of what you've described sounds like soap opera drama to me.

I think if both Morgan and Shane has just had those neg experiences then it would have made more sense.

But Morgan hadn't had any contact with Dawn for a year. 1 year! You'd think that after a year of being able to avoid someone who calls every day, several times a day, that they would be mostly over that by now. If she would have just broken up with Dawn and it was all still raw, then I could see her feeling tempted to go back to Dawn. Break-ups can go in fits and starts.

so that readers might understand how smart, likeable, strong characters could be "drawn into" relationships with them.

Well, I agree with this totally. For the most part, there were no redeemable qualities about Dawn except for the fact that she's very persistent in chasing Morgan and telling her constantly that she needs her and so on.

I can see how that would be nice for someone's ego to be told those things and Dawn was shown to have considerable charm upon first meeting other people. However, through most of the book she's an outright tyrant, even with Morgan after Morgan does go back with her, so she came across as more of a cliche than a complexly written villain.

Cathy in AK said...

I really have a hard time with the big misunderstanding trope that could easily be dealt with by opening the mouth and talking a little bit. I get that it’s an author’s way to keep up some tension, but for me that frustrates more than keeps me interested.

This is why I tend toward romances that have some other subgenre designation. I'm not saying romances can't have solid, logical conflict without another plot, but if the conflict can be resolved with a five minute conversation then it's not strong enough for an entire novel.

And yeah, going back again and again to an abusive, cheating partner? After a year of separation? Hmmm....Get thee a spine, girlfriend.

MB (Leah) said...

This is why I tend toward romances that have some other subgenre designation.

Yes, this is true. Straight up contemps are hard I think to keep the tension up without something else going on.

I think I would have liked it better had there been more time spent on slowly building up tension between Morgan and Shane so that when they finally do get together it would be like Ahhh....

But they get together very quickly and then what's left to create tension is their own TSTL qualities since in this case, Dawn didn't actually come and threaten Shane or do anything worse really then keep calling Morgan and harassing her.

but if the conflict can be resolved with a five minute conversation then it's not strong enough for an entire novel.

Exactly.

I do like contemps and some authors do it very well. But I think it's hard to keep up the tension without it really going the way of the drawn out soap opera like Mia says.

Unfortunately, I find this to be the case more so in lesbian romance than in m/f romance. I think just the tension of the differences between men and women in a m/f romance can be enough to keep a m/f contemp interesting. But with two women, it's double the sameness and it can get really sticky or frustrating. Estrogen overload.

M. A. said...

I can see how that would be nice for someone's ego to be told those things and Dawn was shown to have considerable charm upon first meeting other people. However, through most of the book she's an outright tyrant, even with Morgan after Morgan does go back with her, so she came across as more of a cliche than a complexly written villain.

I am really more bummed out than ever. I skimmed the excerpt for this book at Loose I.D. and the excerpt demonstrates really beautiful technical craft that probably makes the novel a pleasure to read.

*sighs* I loathe one-dimensional characterization. Romance is character driven and if the characters lack depth and definition, I'm not going to want to read about them.

MB (Leah) said...

I skimmed the excerpt for this book at Loose I.D. and the excerpt demonstrates really beautiful technical craft that probably makes the novel a pleasure to read.

Well, this IS why I was able to keep reading. And as I said in the review, there were some really great moments between Morgan and Shane that made up for a lot.

But it would have been nice if those moments were more and others less. But maybe this was the author's first book and she's gotten better at creating tension.