REVIEW: Tricked Truths and Gateway to Heaven by Beth Kery
Dear Ms. Kery:
I read Wicked Burn, your first NY Published book coming out December 1 and it interested me enough to look at your backlist. I purchased two titles from Whiskey Creek Press: Tricked Truths and Gateway to Heaven. I’m glad that Tricked Truths wasn’t my introduction to your work because I wonder whether I would have read another.
Tricked Truths has a Linda Howard-ish feel to the conflict but I don’t recall Howard’s heroines being so passive. Grace Jamison left Everly over twelve years ago with accusations of conspiring to murder her elderly husband, Evan Burnett, flapping at her back. For some reason, Grace returns and brings her 12 year old son with her, hoping that he won’t suffer the taint of past gossip. She moves into the Widow’s Cottage, a small house left to her by her husband, which is situated on the estate owned by Trick Burnett, her husband’s first son. Trick does not want Grace at the Widow’s Cottage, in part because he burns for her and doesn’t like his physical attraction toward her. He also believes that she cheated while married to his father and that she is partially responsible for his father’s death.
There is alot going on in this story and little exploration of any of the issues brought up. For example, Trick has allegedly strong feelings against Grace for being an adulteress, but Trick spent less than two weeks with Grace, not even knowing her age, before she married Evan. He spent almost no time with Evan and Grace during the two years of their marriage. Trick also believes that Grace conspired to kill her husband, yet that is not addressed in substantive way until far into the story. Essentially Trick’s motivations go unexplained for much of the book.
Grace, too, is an enigma with much of her past alluded to without any fleshing out. The decision to bring her 12 year old son back to a community that despises her made little sense. Further she seemed to suffer no significant ostrasizing from the small town that thought she had participated in murder. The story relies too much on a reader giving rote emotional responses to certain cues and requires the reader to fill in much of the story based on other tropes she has read in the past.
What the reader was shown was completely unlikeable. Trick spends the majority of the book treating Grace like a piece of crap, possibly worse than a piece of crap. He’s demeaning to her, cruel to her, and generally abuses her verbally at every occasion. In his sexual engagements with her and another woman, he evinces no respect for them. Grace is worse, though. She’s the poster child for doormat heroines. At one point Trick marvels that Grace must be told what to do in order for her to have a sexual response. She enjoys being demeaned. She enjoys being treated as if she is garbage. It’s beyond comprehension. D
Gateway to Heaven
I read Gateway to Heaven after Tricked Truths. I had bought the two stories together and thus thought I would simply glance through the second book to see if it had the same overtones at Tricked Truths. Gateway to Heaven is as different from Tricked Truths as possible. Perhaps it is because it is more of a regular romance and not an erotic one. I.e., maybe the settings and circumstances in Tricked Truth were written in such a way as to validate the erotic scenes. In Gateway, the emotional relationship takes front stage and there are nuances to the characters that were missing in the previous story. The one word I could use to describe Gateway is sensitive.
Megan Shreve is an artist, a sculptor, who is working parttime teaching art to students at a local parish. Christian Lasher is an artist as well, only of music. In fact, in a way to avoid telling Megan who he really is (rock star) he describes himself as a writer. Christian sees Megan in his condo building and again at the parish. He’s struck by her but since he sees her with a child and Mr. SUV dropping off a child, he believes her to be married. Internally he struggles with his attraction to her and his “no married women” morality stick. Megan is single and simply helping out her sister. This initial scene smartly sets up the conflict of Christian which is to not be measured by outward appearances. It also serves as a foil for Megan’s conflict. She is childless because she has had almost no relationships with men.
Megan suffered a tragedy as a young child and this tragedy defines her, not because she allows it to but because everyone around her – her family, her community – refuses to allow her to escape the tragedy. Her tragedy is so well known that Megan’s sister and Christian’s sister question his pursuit of her, believing that unless he is serious he could do her further harm. Christian begins to court Megan and Megan blossoms, her nascent sexuality arising to meet Christian’s brazen masculinity. Megan is extraordinarily strong person, though, at because the time is right she begins to stand up for herself, confronting those around her who want to see her as the constant victim. She was braver than Christian in many instances.
While the backstory of the characters is told piece by piece, it doesn’t have the same gaps that Tricked Truths does. The details are withheld to add suspense and create uncertainty in the relationship but are revealed in a timely fashion as to frame the conflicts. There was some reveals that were done in a info dump-y manner and that could have been handled with some greater delicacy but overall, this was a lovely (and sexy) love story in which you truly believed that this rock star and shy artist could make a life together. B+
Both books can be purchased at Fictionwise in eformat.