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Stuff I'm reading... Mostly romance and Scifi/Fantasy.

Review: Heart of Timber

Heart of Timber (Cold) - Brandon Shire

This was a superficial conclusion to a promising story that started in May 2013 with Cold.


The story takes place over 5 years from the day that Anderson is released from prison. The big problem with this novel is that everything that happens is orchestrated by Anderson's sister Gia. Both Lem and Anderson are just passive recipients whose emotional growth - post prison life - is undermined and unexplored because of Gia's influence. Gia has married a billionaire paediatric doctor, Michael, who is a ridiculously unbelievable character. Anderson and Lem are confronted by various threats and setbacks over the 5 years, from getting Lem released from jail, to the evil Mayor Huston who threatens Anderson, to their lack of money and shelter. As soon as these problems occur they are instantly 'fixed' in an unrealistic manner by Gia and Michael's gobs of money and influence.


We learn the reason why Lem murdered his brother and it didn't make sense to me. Lem's nephew appears briefly in an inconclusive scene. It was disappointing that this wasn't explored in more depth. Anderson's homophobic father who - with his abusive relationship with Anderson's mum and his secret second family - had such an oppressive presence in book 1, just doesn't exist in book 2. 


Gia organises Lem's release from prison and sets him up in a forest cabin that Michael owns (eye-roll - you'll get a headache from all the eye-rolling this book induces). But they don't tell Anderson that Lem is out for months! I know a big tearful scene with Anderson waiting for Lem outside of the prison might have been OTT but I WANTED IT, damn it!!! Instead we get an almost accidental meet-up several months later. Anderson is miserable for most of the book. Even in the final scenes he still seems lost and unfulfilled. The chemistry between them is muted. Lem continues to be the strong silent type, very much in tune with the environment and unwilling to live anywhere else or even visit Anderson in the city. 


One of my pet peeves occurred at around the 30% mark. Anderson has an imagined sex scene with Lem (they don't actually meet again until about halfway). The sex scene is pages long, very detailed in a way that fantasies never are. I hate those imaginary scenes. They always lack sensuality and emotional impact because... well... it's not really happening. It's like the author suddenly feels there should be sex because it's a romance and shoves it in the narrative to keep the readers happy.


In the plus column, I liked the title which abbreviates to HoT which is the opposite of the first book's title. A little understated word play always amuses me. The book is set over several years but I like the way the chapters were headed up, 'Two Years', 'Three Years', etc. It was easy to follow chronologically and a good follow on from the first book which was divided into months. I really like the two MC's in 'Cold' so I did enjoy seeing them achieve their HEA.