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REVIEW: Real by Katy Evans

Dear Ms. Evans:

When Jane contacted me and said that there was a new book coming out with an underground fighter hero, I immediately requested the book. I love fighters, and the high stakes physicality of them. Your new book, Real, features Remington Tate, a disgraced boxer, who now is fighting on the Underground circuit, seeking the championship. Brooke Dumas is a former champion runner. During her training for the Olympic trials, Brooke blows out her ACL for the second time in six years, and must come to terms with the fact that her dreams need to change. She decides to  get her Masters degree in Sports Rehabilitation.

One night, Brooke and her best friend Melanie end up at the Underground to watch Remington “Riptide” Tate fight. From the moment Brooke sees Remy, she’s drowning in him. They have a magnetic connection that begins the moment they make eye contact.

Remy! Remy! Mel shouts hysterically at my side, hands cupped to her mouth. “You’re so fucking hot, Remy!”

His head angles to the sound, one dimple showing with a sexy smile as he faces us. A frisson of nervous energy passes through me, not because he’s extremely gorgeous from this perfect view – because he is, he definitely is, goodness, he really is – but mostly because he’s looking straight at me.

One eyebrow cocks, and there’s a glimmer of amusement in his entrancing blue eyes. Also something warm in his gaze. Like he thinks I’m the one who shouted. Oh, shit.

He winks at me, and I’m stunned as his smile slowly fades, morphing into one that’s unbearably intimate.

My blood simmers.

My sex clenches tight, and I hate that he seems to know it. -Kindle location 68

Real by Katy EvansRemy finishes fighting and approaches Brooke, still sweaty from the match. He gets her name and number (helpfully provided by her best friend), and sends her tickets and a backstage pass for the next night’s fight. Brooke is horrified. She’s not a one-night stand girl, but is beyond tempted by this deep attraction she feels for Remy. She decides that she’ll do it, so when he calls her back stage after the fight and offers her a three month contract to travel with him as his sports rehab/physical therapist she’s shocked. Perhaps she misinterpreted their connection. She can barely stand upright in his presence and apparently he’s only interested in her stretching him out after a fight.

Once Brooke accepts the job, she’s with Remy all the time. She’s required to stretch him out while he trains, after her trains and before and after fighting. Just touching him is torture for Brooke. She’s ridiculously attracted to him. She knows Remy is interested, but he makes no moves towards her. Brooke is completely confounded by his unwillingness to go there with her. Particularly because she knows that his coach and PA routinely arrange for Remy to have girls before or after a fight. Remy turns all the girls away after he meets Brooke. But he won’t touch her either.

Remy is a complicated guy. His parents had him institutionalized when he was 13, and it wasn’t until he was old enough to check himself out that he escaped. He has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but refuses to take medication for it due to the effect it has on his training. This makes him unpredictable. He’s either very, very high or goes “black”. His eyes change to a deeper color when he’s in a depressed state, and he often loses the time, unaware of his actions when he’s on a low. He can be very violent during those times and his coach and personal assistant have been sedating him to get him through the times. Brooke is unprepared for Remy’s lows, but is confident that he wouldn’t hurt her. So she spends time with him while he’s low, and continues to try to support him. For his part, Remy refuses to become further involved with Brooke (sexually) because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her. But she truly does soothe him with her presence and when he touches her, it helps him stay grounded. They begin a very, very hot not-entirely-sexual relationship.

Brooke is frustrated that Remy will not consummate their relationship. They’re doing a lot of kissing but never having sex, and it’s becoming  all she can think about. She wants him desperately, and touching him in a purely professional way is no longer a possibility. Every touch is intimate to her, even when she’s just stretching him out. But Remy is resolved, Brooke needs to know the “real” him before they can go all the way. He knows once he has her completely, he’ll never let her go.

I charge forward and slam my fists repeatedly into his chest, as hard as I can without breaking my own bones. “Why haven’t you touched me? Why don’t you fucking take me? Am I too fat? Too plain? Do you just delight in fucking torturing me senseless or are you just plain damn mean? For your information, I’ve wanted to have sex with you since the day I went into your stupid hotel room and got hired instead!”

He grabs my wrists and angrily yanks me forward, pinning my arms down. “Why’d you want to have sex with me? To have a fucking adventure? What was I supposed to be? Your one-night-fucking stand? I’m every woman’s adventure, damn you, and I don’t want to be yours. I was to be your fucking REAL. You get that? If I fuck you, I want you to belong to me. To be mine. I want you to give yourself to me – not Riptide!” - Kindle location 2180

I loved this book. As in, I couldn’t stop talking about it. I found Remington to be well nuanced, despite the book being told solely from Brooke’s point of view. I enjoyed the angsty-ness of the book. What I’m unclear about is how well or accurately Remy’s bipolar disorder is portrayed. I know very little about bipolar disorder, so I’m not sure whether his choice to be off medication and the ramifications of that were well portrayed or not. As someone who knows very little about the disorder, it read credibly to me, and his actions seemed to be within the parameters of what I’ve heard about the illness. I really liked Brooke and thought that she was a strong match for Remy. She’s tough and no-nonsense, but also very girly and young.

What I liked best about this book was the sexual tension and chemistry between the two leads. The book is extremely hot, without actually giving all that much away. The sex scenes, once they finally occur, are beautifully written, well choreographed and placed within the story to enhance the couple’s emotional journey. Prior to them having sex, the tension between them is palpable enough for me to be shrieking in my head “For God’s sake, just do it! Please *just* do it!

Real does not read like a debut author wrote it at all. It’s very well edited, and professionally presented. I understand that there will be two more books featuring this couple, one told from Remy’s point of view. While I thought that the book ended in a good place, I was happy to hear that we’ll have the opportunity to revisit the couple. Overall, Real was a wonderfully angsty, well written “mature new-adult” book. It gets a confident and happy recommendation from me. Final grade: A-

Kind regards,

Kati

 

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Kati Brown

I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.

21 Comments

  1. JP
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:13:05

    It sounds terrific. But am I wrong or can you only buy a paper copy on Amazon for $12? I was all set to try it out until I saw that. :(

    ReplyReply

  2. Kati
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:16:53

    @JP: Nope. Here’s the link to buy Real on Kindle for $3.99. http://amzn.to/10PGu94

    ReplyReply

  3. JP
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:21:34

    And this is why I asked! Yay! Thanks!

    ReplyReply

  4. Marc
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:23:27

    I am also interested in reading it and smashwords does offer it in digital. Sold!

    ReplyReply

  5. Bonnie
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:59:52

    Not available at B&N.

    ReplyReply

  6. Kati
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 09:13:16

    @Bonnie: Hi Bonnie – I just tweeted Katy Evans to ask for the Buy link. I’ll post it as soon as I’ve got it.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jia
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 10:18:32

    This sounds great!

    ReplyReply

  8. Lynne Connolly
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 10:21:09

    Being bipolar is an adventure. Its waves of highs and lows are unpredictable, except by experience, and not everyone’s “tells” are the same, so the sufferer has to learn. One of the symptoms can be lack of self-awareness, so the tells are hard to learn.
    The highs and lows vary with the life cycle, the time of the month (for women as well as men – the condition could be moon-related, but there’s not enough solid research about that) and the age. It doesn’t seem to be connected with what is actually happening in someone’s life. And there’s a wide spectrum, so that people are sometimes only mildly affected and barely know it, and others can’t live without the drugs. Lithium was a lifesaver for many. Before that, the treatment was generally Valium or similar tranq.
    The condition is bound up with the personality, which is why a lot of people don’t like taking the drugs. They “bland you out,” so that the creative spurts that many experience aren’t as intense. But the lows aren’t usually violent, and definitely not memory losses. A low always comes after a high, with the inevitability of night following day. They’re the “black dog” of depression, when nothing seems worth it. Violence would mean doing something. There’s a big self-esteem issue involved, too, a constant “I’m not worth it” feeling, which contrasts with an equally unreal “I am great” feeling during the peak of the highs. BOUNCE!
    Doctors now think that bipolar conditions may also be linked with OCD (but not OCPD) but research is new and ongoing. Certainly CBT is having good results with some people. It helped me more than the tranquillizers.

    ReplyReply

  9. Darlynne
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 10:35:24

    Having watched bi-polar disorder with a family member, our experience was that, un-medicated, the highs were off the charts: wild, emotional exuberance, an inability to focus, crazy spending, grandiosity. The highs felt so good that the willingness to take medication, which resulted in feeling numbed and muffled, was a real battle. The flip side, in this case, depression, was soul-destroying, the can’t-get-out-of-bed for weeks kind.

    Obviously there are variations of the disorder, but I was struck by how the anger–at being thwarted in over-the-top ventures, at being reminded to take the medication–came when the high was at its most enthusiastic. I didn’t see any violence in the lows, but again, I didn’t live with it every day. In general, we were more concerned about suicide at those times.

    ReplyReply

  10. Mandi
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 10:59:27

    I wanted to like this one. But I found Brooke too immature in her feelings towards Remy – The whole – does he like me? Am I too fat? Why won’t he sleep with me? Thing got old. And I felt the build up to their sex scenes was way too long. It lost momentum.

    Also had problems with the sister storyline….

    Maybe I need a second book to come to understand these two better. What I saw of Remy I liked, but I think we need more in-depth look at him.

    ReplyReply

  11. Kati
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 11:31:50

    @Mandi: I was SO sure you’d love this one, Mandi. But I also get what you’re saying. Brooke did read young, but I understood her being so off balance around Remy. He offered a lot of mixed messages.

    I do agree that the Nora part of the story was its weakest link. But it didn’t effect my overall enjoyment of the story.

    ReplyReply

  12. MrsJoseph
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 15:43:43

    My uncle is bi-polar and his lows did have the threat of violence attached. When high he is the kind of guy everyone loves to hang with. When low…well, once he threatened to kill me and gladly take the jail time that came with it.

    ReplyReply

  13. hapax
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 20:50:37

    Wowzers.

    A bipolar hero who refuses to take his meds and wants the heroine to know the “real” him? That scares me more than a soi-disant BDSM hero who wants the heroine to sign a contract without reading it.

    Speaking as a person who has experienced from bipolar disorder, medication isn’t always the solution.

    But if your swings cause you to make such irrational choices that you fear you may endanger yourself or those you love (and I agree with those that the former is much more probable, although aggressive violence isn’t unheard of), refusing treatment isn’t “angsty”, it’s monumentally SELFISH — and probably an indication that your disease is worse than you think.

    And I don’t know how the plot resolves, but lines like “but she truly does soothe him with her presence and when he touches her, it helps him stay grounded” suggest that the book buys into the very dangerous and seductive myth that family and friends can “love” those with bipolar disorders back to mental health, instead of the much more likely outcome that they will themselves be dragged into a downward and destructive spiral.

    tl; dr: I think this book would push WAY too many triggers for me. Pass.

    ReplyReply

  14. Kati
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 06:55:30

    @hapax: I should clarify that Brooke’s presence does not in any way mitigate Remy’s symptoms. She makes him happy though, and in doing so, he’s easier about the shame and fear he feels about his symptoms. It’s not that she mitigates any symptom, she just loves him in a way that makes him feel less stigma about the illness.

    As I said, as someone with little to no knowledge about the bipolar, it read credibly to me, but if you have experience with it, this book may very well not work for you.

    ReplyReply

  15. Norma
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 09:37:05

    @Mandi:

    Mandi, I completely agree with you. Your review was spot on. It was a good enough book, but I didn’t love Brooke and the sexual tension got old.

    ReplyReply

  16. Kaetrin
    Apr 12, 2013 @ 01:30:12

    I waited to read the book and write my review (which I will post in the next couple of days if anyone is interested) before coming here to look at what you all thought. I’m halfway between Mandi and Kati I think. I was uncomfortable about the way Remy’s mental illness was portrayed. I did a little Googling and from the articles I read, the wild swings tend to be in terms of weeks rather than hours or days and I couldn’t find anything about changing eye colour. (I admit I didn’t Google extensively).

    There was an element of fetishising the mental illness which I’m having trouble articulating as well and that also made me uncomfortable. What made Remy wild and sexy and dangerous was a mental illness which was not (as far as I could see) being treated by any medical professional in any way and was far from well controlled. I don’t think Brooke had her eyes wide open about the reality of this.

    I was also a little uncomfortable about the medical ethics of her being Remy’s physical therpist and his lover and I wish this had been addressed better in the book.

    I agree that the Nora storyline was the weakest part of the book and I also agree that the build up of sexual tension went on too long but like Kati, I was all “just do it!” too so I was invested in all that tension. And, when they get it on. They get. It. On. *fans self*.

    Although, I will say that “fissure” is not a word I want to see in sex scenes.

    ReplyReply

  17. Babsi
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 08:14:14

    For me it was also too much build up. How often did she have to change her underwear because she was wet and clenching soooo much? I just couldn’t buy into it. That’s when I lost interest and started skipping pages.

    ReplyReply

  18. Alexandra A
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 05:52:41

    I really liked sexual tension and chemistry between Brooke and Remy too. I liked they didn`t jump in bed right away. Yes it was a torture, but a sweet torture :)

    ReplyReply

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