Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review- Love Relived by Monique Thomas

Love Relived
By Monique Thomas
Feb 4, 2013
198 pgs
Kindle version

Photographer Mahogany Williams has beauty, brains and success in San Francisco. California. Knowing the right people had launched her career into the limelight and she was enjoying the benefits of it all. When her Nana beomes confined to a wheel chair, Mahogany goes back home (New York) to care for her . While doing so she also tries to undo the pain that caused her to leave so many years ago. Cheryl James is a quiet sensible and known to be "too serious" woman. She enjoys her job working as a head educator at the famed Museum of Natural history. It is the theme of history, however that caused old feelings to resurface when she finds out that Mahogany is coming back into town. Will she be able to handle it after the bitter way things were left between them? Can forgiveness be enough? Can love be revisited?

I wanted to love this book. I had a good feeling going in to it that I would love it. I like the idea that two people who’ve shared a lot between them, but who for various reasons could not be together, get a second chance to explore what’s between them. So I was hoping this would be a warm, loving story about two people that meet up after years apart and fall in love all over again. Unfortunately there were several issues with this story that made it a less than positive reading experience for me.

I’ll start with the most glaring thing about this book that agitated me. This is just a badly edited book. I think I’m more forgiving of bad editing with self-published books than many readers. But by midway into this book I found myself focusing more on the mistakes than the story, which tells me this was worse than the usual. Or maybe I’ve just read too many crappily edited self-pubbed books these days and this was the needle that broke the camel’s back. Whatever the reason, it had a HUGELY negative impact on how I felt about this book because my bad mood about it amplified other issues that might not have bothered me as much if I wasn’t irritated by technical issues.

Just a few Examples. (I bolded or added missing words or punctuation in brackets to show mistakes:

Periods in speech quotes:

“She is fine baby, just fine.” Mamma Hanna interjected.

“I wasn’t being sarcastic. I have been hun gry for a long time and I am starving.” Cheryl replied nonchalantly.

I wanted to tell you one more time so you could understand.” Mahogany admitted.

“Just tell her that you don’t like it that way Mama Hanna. She is there to help you.” Cheryl pleaded

Comma issues:

Mahogany turned around, to see that her Nanna had come into the dining room. “ Nana did you need something?”

When they did [,]she realized that there hadn’t been wearing much underneath her clothes.

Missing words, wrong words, other missing punctuation:

“The last time we were in this parking lot I told you that I love [you] and left it up to you what we should do.

“What do we do know?

“I want you to.”

Thinking about her was the reason that she could not concentrated on her job.

Mahogany tried to shut her brain of but she found it difficult.

Cheryl opened it [. , or and] she stepped to the side so that Mahogany could enter first. A light came on in automatically in the small hallway.

“Where are you going?” Cheryl asked. “I was just trying to give you some room.” Mahogany managed to stammer out. “Don’t you think that you have put enough space between us?” “I’m sorry Cheryl. I never meant to…” “Shhh,[”] Cheryl silenced her, “We will talk but right now that is not what I want to do.”

“Is the water to hot?” Cheryl asked.

Funky sentences, writing or wording:

She let her hands explore Mahogany’s back and they found their way to the ass that was being sculpted by the fabric of the skirt.

She brushed her teeth and entered the shower in the homemade sauna, she let the water run over her head.

Next up, and this is rather unfortunate and a matter of personal taste that maybe won’t affect many readers, this story features a push-pull relationship. Push-pull relationships drive me insane and I don’t find them entertaining IRL or in reading. I also don’t believe in the long term viability of them unless both parties make a drastic change because I feel they are more about obsession than true love. I guess it can happen, but I find the interim so annoying. This is pretty much most of the book.

Cheryl has wanted Mahogany since they were teens. They got together when they were very young before they each had a chance to know who they were as individuals and how they each felt about their own sexuality. It’s understandable that both had a lot to learn. The main issue is that Cheryl has understood that she’s a lesbian, whereas Mahogany is not that clear and is unwilling to really look it for various reasons.

Most of the rest of the story, including flashbacks, is about Cheryl being hurt and angry that Mahogany can’t or won’t be what she needs and getting on her case about it every time they have some communication, and Mahogany making excuses or ignoring or telling Cheryl to leave it be.

That they finally work it out is great. After all that they went through, to finally reach that point where they’re both on the same page should be very satisfying. However, for me, the author didn’t quite make me believe these two will manage long term. And this is mainly because there was no real explanation as to why Mahogany finally came around to really getting that she loves Cheryl as more than just a friend.

Having sex when you’ve been close friends doesn’t exactly turn a relationship into a love story. Mahogany has a great career and is content in that, but no one has really sparked her interest romantically. And she’s going home out of familial duty. None of those are reasons to come to understand finally, after years, that you’re in love someone vs just loving them from having a shared history. She didn’t even go back to specifically work it out with Cheryl, when, if really she loved her, that should have been one of the main reasons. Even after figuring out she loves Cheryl, she’s rather reticent, giving up easily when Cheryl rebukes her. So I wasn’t feeling her in a strong way where Cheryl was concerned. Away from Cheryl though, she’s a likable, dynamic character.

And I was bothered a bit by Cheryl seemingly coming from a place of “you owe me for all that pain and I deserve to control how this relationship is going to work now” feeling. I get that, I really do. After years of being put off she doesn’t like that she’s expected to just let Mahogany walk back into her life without some kind of proof that Mahogany is not just coming around because it’s convenient. But it doesn’t exactly inspire the warm, fuzzy feelings of falling in love all over again.

Mama Hanna is really the best part of this book. She’s that wise family matriarch that that understands that life isn’t always perfect but that love is worth fighting for. Really, if it wasn’t for her, Cheryl and Mahogany would probably still be going back and forth or avoiding.

So bottom line, I think I could have looked at this story in a more positive light had there not been so many grammatical and writing errors, which set me off right away. Also, if the author somehow would have focused more on what was positive between the characters vs the constant negative drama I think I might have had a better feeling overall.

Heat level: 3 some graphically written sexual scenarios

Grade: 2 ½  Stars