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REVIEW: Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Benson) by...

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Dear Ms. Jones:

I’ve never read one of your books before, but the fact that you have a reclusive billionaire as your hero was enough to sell me giving your book a try. Amy is at a work function in New York when she receives word from a man she knows only as her “handler” that she must leave New York immediately. She’s to go to the airport, find locker 111, retrieve that package of materials, which has new identification for her, and learn her new biography. She’s moving on from her life in New York and must do it post haste.

When she arrives at the airport, she finds that there is no record of her name on the flight manifest due to some sort of mistake by the airline. Fortuitously she is upgraded to first class and finds herself sitting next to a remarkably handsome man. He is Liam Stone, child prodigy architect and reclusive billionaire. They strike up a stilted conversation (Amy trusts no one at all) and Amy soon falls asleep. When she wakes up screaming, Liam soothes her. He discovers that Amy regularly suffers from nightmares and that she won’t talk about why. He immediately understands that she is fleeing something or someone, which in turn, brings out his protective instincts. When they disembark from the plane, Liam offers Amy a ride to her new apartment. Amy is deeply reluctant to accept help from anyone, but particularly Liam, who for reasons she doesn’t trust, makes her feel safe and cared for, emotions that have never gotten her anything but heartache in the past. Nevertheless, she allows Liam to take her to her new apartment, while she feeds him her story that she’s come to work on short term assignment for a real estate company. But when Liam walks into her sparsely decorated apartment, his protective instincts fire, despite Amy’s protests that her belongings will arrive in the morning (which is, of course, a lie). For reasons that surpass her understanding, Amy is inclined to trust Liam. He wants to possess and protect her, and for some reason, she keeps letting him. She doesn’t want his money, has no interest in the material goods he can give her, but she’s desperate for the safety she feels she has when she’s around him. Liam wants to build a future with Amy, so he works slowly on building her trust. Offering her glimpses into his past, and waiting for her to be able to offer him some inkling of what she’s running from.

Yeah, I know how Liam feels. I read the entire book and STILL have no idea what Amy is running from. While I thought that the writing was strong, and I liked the connection between the characters, I’m mystified as to what happened in her past to put her on the run, who her secret benefactor is, or what happened to her family. It’s a strangely written book, with Amy being a very unreliable narrator because the reader knows as little about her as Liam does. And the reader never learns more. There are little drips and drabs of her history, mostly told through flashbacks and panic attacks, all of which seemed unreliable to me, given her completely traumatized state throughout the book. On top of that, she’s wildly moody, as I suppose one would be when one is constantly on the run and so distrustful of anyone. But it made it very difficult for me to connect with her point of view, given that I didn’t believe most of what she saw or heard. I believed her reactions, but felt like they were coming from such a place of trauma, it was very difficult to have any faith in the way the story was unfolding before her.

That being said, I think that there are strong bones there. The writing is extremely solid. The sex is plentiful and hot. And Liam, despite being damaged himself is a really charming hero. He’s taciturn and difficult and moody himself, and deeply possessive of Amy. But it’s clear from the start that he’s interested, and then entranced by her and his emotions are very real for her. It made me like him a great deal. On top of that, the book ends in a cliff hanger. A BIG one, so I’m not sure it’s going to be for all readers. As for myself, despite myriad misgivings, I’ve got to see what happens next. I just hope that you provide a fulfilling and understandable backstory for Amy, because right now, I have a hard time believing her view point at all. Final grade: C+

Kind regards,
Kati

 

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Kati

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.

9 Comments

  1. lisa
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 14:52:20

    Hi!
    As the author of course I’d love it to be an “A” review but it’s such a well written, thoughtful review I found myself smiling despite the rating. I hope to win you over fully with part 2 and I’m thrilled you want to read it! Thank you for spending time with Escaping Reality and for giving it exposure by posting the review.

  2. Jennie
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 16:43:13

    It’s a strangely written book

    That was my impression, too. I’d never read the author but found the book compelling in spite of its flaws, but ultimately think that having the real truth of Amy’s past not at least briefly detailed in book one was not quite cricket. There was other stuff in the end that sufficiently set this book up as a cliffhanger, so I don’t know why those details from the past needed to be saved for book two (or beyond).

    The other thing was that it felt like there were a number of 50 Shades of Gray elements in the story, but I suspect that’s just where this subgenre is at at this point, and probably not worth complaining about.

    I did like that the shadowy nature of what Amy was running from made everyone around her seem faintly sinister – the neighbor, the chick at the real estate office, etc. I felt like the writing effectively set the mood of fear and paranoia.

  3. Shelley
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 19:30:38

    There’s a new thread on Amazon proposing a new sub-genre and this one seems to fit it to a tee: Neurotica

    Unfortunately, as this ends in a ridiculous cliffhanger, which has never been and never will be acceptable, I won’t read it. It is beyond me why so many books are being written and released this way. Oh wait! I do understand it: $$$. And some consumers (remember us?) who don’t realize that that $8.00 paperback they bought is only the first volume will be beyond pissed knowing that in order to resolve the characters story they will need to shell out another $8.00 if not more. Of course, this will lead to a another cliffhanger and trilogy which will turn into a 5 or 6 book series, a la Sylvia Day. No thanks.

    This sorta turned into a mini-rant but damn, where does this bullshit end?

  4. Cassie Knight
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 08:44:09

    @Shelley

    This sorta turned into a mini-rant but damn, where does this bullshit end?

    Well, I don’t know. Probably will end when people stop buying these? I mean, the ones that go in knowing it’s a series, not the ones who find out at the end. That just sucks for the latter ones. But otherwise, it will likely never end given that someone must like it.

  5. Shelley
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 09:12:41

    @Cassie Knight: I completely agree but see more and more folks on forums/blogs who are fed up. Me? I never bought them. I may have been suckered into the occasional freebie at first but once I realized where this was all going I just didn’t do it anymore. Once in awhile if it’s an author I like, I might download the freebie and wait it out to see where it’s going and see how reviews pan out. If it looks like it might be something I might like, I’ll think about buying at a later date and when the price goes down. My TBR mountain will keep me more than occupied until then.

    My main problem with this book and others like it? The paperback is eight bucks for 208 pages which translates to probably not quite 200 after you take out the front and back matter. Most mmpb are selling for $8.00 and they probably average around 350 pages. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people still prefer paperbacks and many will be suckered into buying this (and others) without realizing it’s a series. I don’t have as much of a problem with ebooks which have stayed relatively reasonable.

  6. JKD
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 21:24:12

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  7. Lisa Renee Jones
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 13:56:35

    On the paperback price, the book is 72,000 words. Formatting makes a difference. The same word count for my September Pocket release for REVEALING US is 320 pages. And unfortunately when you self publish you have pricing requirements by Createspace. I’d LOVE to get the price down! I’d eagerly offer a cheaper option. And I do try to put #1 of the series on everything I do that is a series. But also on the print thing, I wish there was a cheaper option and I’d eagerly welcome one if anyone has one they can share.
    @Shelley:

  8. Jennifer Lewis
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 17:16:07

    I have always enjoyed Lisa Renee Jones books. This one in particular was a page turner and I enjoyed reading it. I am anxious for the remaining book to answer all my questions. I read to be entertained. It is a story and no reality needs to enter into it. The girl was strange and most likely over paranoid but this is life in fantasy land….so kick back and enjoy the read.

  9. REVIEW: Infinite Possibilities (The Secret Life of Amy Benson, Book 2) by Lisa Renee Jones
    Dec 03, 2013 @ 08:09:06

    […] read and reviewed the first book in this series, Escaping Reality. While I admired your writing in the first book, I […]

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