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REVIEW: Razing Kayne by Julieanne Reeves

Dear Julieanne Reeves:

I saw this on a list I follow as a recommended read but at $6.99 I was very reluctant to try it. Apparently Pamela Clare blurbed this but I can’t help but wonder if they are chapter mates or friends because the writing isn’t remotely as good as Clare’s book. I know I shouldn’t rely on author blurbs. I always kick myself when I do because invariably they never work out.

Julieanne Reeves Razing KayneThis is self published and it shows in the writing. While the book’s grammar and formatting is professional and well done, the pacing is disjointed and the character arcs lack believability. Of course, that complaint can probably be leveled at edited books as well.

The book opens with a short prologue which shows Kayne walking in on his wife. Two of his children are lying on the floor, dead of apparent drowning. His third child, an infant daughter, is missing. His wife then turns a gun on herself and commits suicide. Chapter one starts immediately after and Kayne is now a state trooper, currently policing traffic in a remote mountain community in the Northern Arizona. He stops a speeder, starts flirting with her and then goes home to masturbate. I’m still not over the dead children and Kayne is whacking off to some random traffic stop? Please, give me a minute here.

The tone and emotions of the characters swing wildly from serious (from the masturbation scene we go to Kayne having breakfast with another trooper where Kayne goes off on the trooper about Kayne’s past) to sexy flirtation without notice, leaving the reader to suffer wild swings of emotion.

The characters also act in ways that are difficult to understand. The heroine was married to a fire medic. She listens to a police scanner all the time. She hears an accident happen and brings Kayne dinner and then acts shell shocked when she realizes it is the place where her husband had died, saving one of her adopted children. It’s not believable she wouldn’t know exactly where the accident occurred since she listens to the scanner regularly and THAT IS HOW SHE CAME TO KNOW OF THE ACCIDENT. Ugh.

Both Kayne and Jessica take turns demonizing their now deceased spouses. Kayne couldn’t decide whether his dead wife was a “murdering bitch” or a “lonely wife”. In another scene, Kayne is feeling awkward because in the course of an investigation, he had to admit that he had slept with his now dead wife while they were married. He was uncomfortable because he was worried that Jess would be jealous. Jealous that Kayne had sex with his wife? Do these two have the emotional maturity of preteens?

Jess was always having the stray thought, from the very start, how Kayne was such a better man that her deceased husband. That’s a lot of bitterness for her to carry as well (even though it isn’t portrayed as bitterness, but why the need for the constant comparisons?)

There is a really convoluted and SUPER unbelievable mystery that involves Kayne’s ex wife, the accident, Jess, and her adopted children. One of the “mysteries” is so obvious that I felt the meager attempts at obfuscation were laughable. This is no spoiler because it is introduced in the first and second chapters. Jess has an adopted girl that is the same age as Kayne’s missing infant, the one that they never found. And ALL her mannerisms (mannerisms that read the same as about a million other kids) remind him of his dead daughter. Gracie, the little one, even takes to calling him dad early on. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Kayne’s main character trait is saying stupid hurtful things that Jess overhears and which hurt her feelings. Jess’ main character trait is being sweet and standing around like a dumbass. I struggled to finish the book because I didn’t like Kayne and thought Jess had only marginal more life in her than a sea sponge. D

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ridley
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 16:04:04

    I’ve loved Clare’s own books, but she blurbs terrible, terrible books by other authors. She blurbed Joan Swan’s racist shit show book too.

  2. Shelley
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 16:51:29

    Wow, that review just left a bad taste in my mouth. Blech! Very disappointed in Clare putting her stamp on any part of it.

    ETA: So just looked at the gushing reviews and a staggering amount of 5-stars with many votes for “Most helpful review ever”. I just don’t get it.

  3. Lisa Guertin
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 18:47:58

    First, let me say that if you read the cover of the book, then you’d know that Pamela Clare did not contribute the blurb, but it was provided by Debra Webb. Please, if you are going to slam a new author, at least get your facts straight. I am glad to see that you corrected the typo in the title of your original post. I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly with your review, but that is the beauty of our country; we have the right to read or not read books and to disagree with each other. Each time I’ve read this book, I have found myself emotionally invested with all the characters. Perhaps it’s because I understand the pain of losing a child and can relate to the parent’s pain. Julieanne Reeves’ writing and depiction of Kayne’s pain was spot on based on my own experience.

  4. bookgurl
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 19:53:39

    I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly with the review also. I enjoyed RAZING KAYNE very much. Any author, whether it’s their first book or fiftieth book, that can make me feel all of the emotions and the intensity in a book has done their job and done it well. I look forward to reading more from author Julianne Reeves in the future.

  5. Jane
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:00:46

    @Lisa Guertin: On the forum where I learned about this book, the recommender said that Clare had vouched for it.

  6. Lisa C Guertin
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:19:16

    Did you read the post on Pamela’s blog? She never commented on the book, good or bad, just about what she had learned about the author.

  7. Heidi
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:24:23

    Hmmm. I must need new glasses, Jane. All I see in that link is Pamela introducing a new author. No “vouching” involved. Of course, I love Pamela’s books and I really liked Julieanne’s, so possibly my reading and analyzing ability is impaired? ;) Come on, we’re all big girls, and while I might not think your opinion is correct and you might not agree with mine, we both love to read good books so we’ve got more in common than not. Happy holidays!

  8. Jane
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:26:20

    @Lisa C Guertin: The forum where I came across the book said that Pamela Clare gave this book the thumbs up. That was enough for me to buy the book (despite its high cost). Maybe the reader had read a tweet or a goodreads link. I’m not sure.

    I always try to include in my reviews why I choose to read/purchase the book. That was my reasoning. Clare’s approval is why I choose to read the book but the grade was dependent on what I read in the book.

  9. Sunita
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:28:06

    @Lisa C Guertin: I read the post. As a reader, I treat an introduction and guest post on an author’s professional blog as an implied endorsement. If there are authors who don’t mean it that way, I hope they’ll chime in and talk about how they intend posts like that to be taken by readers.

  10. Jane
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:28:33

    @Heidi: Why does it matter whether Clare did give the book an endorsement? My understanding is that she did and that was what drove me to buy the book.

    I’m confused as to why you and @Lisa C Guertin are concerned about how Clare felt about the book. Doesn’t the idea that Clare enjoyed it mean that she was more in concert with your opinion than mine?

    I’m confused as to why you think I’m not being a big girl or discounting your opinion.

  11. Pat
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:34:28

    I must also respectfully disagree with your review. I am one of the five star reviewers, and in my opinion Razing Kayne deserved it. That is what is so wonderful about the the reviewing process, each person forms their own opinion. I usually try and find something positive to relate to the author, if I have not enjoyed a book. But, that’s just my opinion . Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my feelings.

  12. Jane
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:37:10

    @Pat – Thanks for commenting. I think it’s great that you enjoyed the book. Can I ask how you came to find the review here at Dear Author?

  13. Pat
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:45:00

    I originally saw your review on Goodreads. When I saw you had a blog, I felt more comfortable commenting here in a closed environment.

  14. Lisa C Guertin
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:46:16

    What bothers me is the way you basically accused Pamela of giving the book a blurb just because she likes the author. From what I’ve seen of her, that isn’t her way. She’s a straight shooter and wouldn’t push a book she didn’t like or think was good. Yes, I’m glad she liked the book too.

    As I said in my original post, the beauty of our country is that we can have differing opinions about so many things.

  15. Lisa C Guertin
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:47:36

    By the way, I read your review through my email subscription to your blog.

  16. Jane
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 21:56:06

    @Lisa C Guertin – Gotcha. That’s fair. I admit to being very gun-shy with fake reviews, blurbs, and so forth. I really enjoy Clare’s I Team series too and thus when I saw that Clare (per this forum member) had given this a recommendation, I was pretty excited. Alas, I felt this work wasn’t even close to Clare’s I-Team series.

  17. Shelley
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 22:24:50

    @Jane: After reading through several parts of this book (first pages, middle, ending and a couple of love scenes) I concur it doesn’t come close at all to Clare’s I-Team books and it is way over priced. And sorry, but the number of 5-star reviews seems excessive for the actual quality of writing. I thought the scene where he pulls her over for speeding was downright creepy to be honest and her responses were inappropriate at the very least. The dialog and narrative seemed somewhat overwrought for long stretches at a time. This type of writing kinda wears me out so definitely not the book for me but as has been said here and other places, we live in America and can read pretty much whatever we want and that’s a good thing! :O)

  18. Avery Shy
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 00:21:37

    That weird feeling you get when three of the commenters “sound” like the same person. :/

  19. Fiona Shin
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 03:43:27

    @Avery Shy: Probably not. Their IP addresses are probably known to Jane and if they were the same, she probably would have brought it up?

    …that’s a lot of probably’s.

    Although for a self-published, that’s a well-designed cover, although I’m kind of over mantitty covers now :/

  20. Thecrazygranny
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 04:51:50

    Good morning Jane,
    I came across your review while checking my twitter feed. I follow @dearauthor.
    Since I loved Razing Kayne, I have been checking out what other people have to say about it. When I read the little blurb on how you didn’t care for it I just had to see why. All I have to say is that I disagree with you. I would also add that you had one part wrong. When Kayne first meets Jess at the traffic stop, it is 2yrs after the death of his wife and kids, not right after.

  21. Carolyne
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 06:52:33

    As I’ve commented elsewhere, I appreciate the D, F, and DNF reviews because they show what absolutely doesn’t work for a particular reader (in this case, someone who’s very well read in the genre). Even if a book I like gets a poor review, I can count on this blog to explain why. It’s always a great insight, and helpful to a writer–for example, remembering that the reader is going through an emotional arc too (if the story’s working) and that a sudden switch in the hero’s mindset two years later won’t feel right if it’s only two pages later, unless of course it’s done deftly. I was happy to hear that the grammar and formatting in this book are professionally handled and am glad when a review points out that this matters, so kudos to the author for that. The guy on the cover is a bit creepy, but the overall design is striking and eye-catching, and my very first thought was to wonder which publisher this came from, not at all to think “self published.”

    Still, I can tell from this review that this isn’t a book that a hundred other 5-star reviews could induce me to read, but that’s personal taste. There would have to be sterling exhortations from sources I know to interest me in the subject (lots of law enforcement connections in my family, so I’m picky about how that’s portrayed) or to get me past the coincidences (I wonder if it would have been more effective if the hero had tracked his way closer to his missing daughter, even if he came up short and it was coincidence that led him the rest of the way–it sounds more like he just falls into the right mountain community). But I’m tough to please when it comes to contemporaries. I’d be more likely to pay that sort of cover price for an unusual historical or a solid mystery/police procedural from an author I already know.

    It’s nice to see that the author has built up a strong readership; that bodes well for her continued success, even though I’ll be looking elsewhere for my cup of tea.

  22. Jane
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 06:55:44

    @Thecrazygranny – I’m glad that you enjoyed the book. Yes, you are right that Kayne meets Jess 2 years after the death of his wife and kids. I’m sorry I didn’t make that more clear. By right after, I meant in terms of when the incidents appeared on the page. I needed more time to recover between the time in which we read about his wife and children dying and him having sexual thoughts about a woman he met in a traffic stop.

  23. LisaCharlotte
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 07:24:03

    I am an infrequent commenter/daily visitor. I always appreciate comments to reviews as they help me decide if a book may work for me. I’m always amazed when names I’ve never seen as commentors suddenly show up en masse to nit pick a bad review. Always smells like fan girls to me and adds a negative vibe to the book in my mind. Just saying, those comments are not going to improve the chances of my buying.

  24. Carolyne
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 08:21:26

    @LisaCharlotte: I understand the impetus of fans and loyal readers, but unfortunately I have the same reaction, and have that reaction when I see dozens of praiseful reviews on Amazon all complimenting a book in the same general tone. It’s a shame that that’s become a turnoff for some potential buyers, but I buy more books based on 3-star reviews that tell me something about what doesn’t work in the story, it’s shortcomings and how it might have been improved. Unless I’ve been following the 5-star reviewers’ other reviews, I have no way to measure why this book is the best of all the best unless the review is thoughtful as well as gushing (5-star review can also be critical! Or can explain why the reviewer was unable to give anything but perfect marks).

    But, that’s why I read a lot of reviewer blogs :)

  25. Shelley
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 11:16:08

    @Avery Shy: I’ve been getting those weird feelings a lot lately!! :O)

  26. cbackson
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 20:36:16

    Jane, I have a big problem with your review, which is that you have neglected to answer the critical question of what, if anything, is razed in this book. PLEASE tell me that at least a wall is demolished, if not a detached garage?

  27. Jane
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 20:45:12

    @cbackson: I believe it is the metaphorical wall of his bit so hardened as she would have you believe heart.

  28. Jane Lovering
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 09:16:49

    His BITS are hardened? Why didn’t you say… *dashes off to buy*

  29. HelenB
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 11:38:34

    I am just baffled by the cover. What is he doing? Is he doing the “just washed my hair throwback” thing?

  30. Shelley
    Dec 12, 2012 @ 13:56:46

    @HelenB: I’m confused as well. Not sure what is being conveyed.

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