REVIEW: Forged by Becky Banks
Dear Ms. Banks:
If the price of this book hadn’t been so cheap (99c) and I hadn’t been given a detailed description of the story and assurances that it wasn’t full of typos and grammatical errors, the cover alone would have deterred me. In fact, this is a book that would likely sell better without a cover. I kind of get the idea behind the cover. The heroine, Eva, is the publisher of a small magazine run out of Portland Oregon. But the cover looks like it was designed for Katherine Hepburn (and even she probably could not have been paid enough to appear on this disaster) instead of say, 2013.
Heroine and hero were best friends and then teenage sweethearts. She leaves to go to NY to pursue a publishing dream and breaks his heart. She returns after 7 years when her father is diagnosed with cancer. She realizes she still loves her ex but he doesn’t want her back in his life.
Nathaniel Vellanova found in Eva Rodgers a best friend and in her home, a haven. He fell hard for her but didn’t understand her desire to expand her horizons and he bitterly resented when she left Portland for NY. When Eva failed to respond to him when he experienced one of the lowest points in his life, his resentment turned to hate.
One of the hardest things in this book is coming to grips with the fact that Eva was a shitty friend. It was understandable that Eva’s desire for a bigger life in publishing was stronger than her desire for Nate when they were younger but that she wasn’t there when he needed her, that she tossed away all the artifacts of a long friendship, needed a greater explanation than what was provided in the text. And the lack of that discussion made me wonder how Nate could truly move past the hurt that Eva had caused him years ago, particularly when he had held it so close for so long.
Nate’s varying emotions from pushing Eva away to pursuing her to pushing her away again made sense given how long and how hurt he was by her leaving him. But Eva’s realization that she hadn’t been fulfilled in NY like she thought she would and that her life in Portland with Nate and her smaller publishing career could be just as satisfying made sense in the context provided. It could have been expounded on in more detail and with greater thought. Much of the story is external, both in dialogue and action. It could have been a deeper and more resonant love story with a little more internal reflection on both individuals.
But the dialogue and action does move the story forward. Nate owns a high end motor vehicle repair shop. He also hasn’t lost his penchant for fast cars, something that Eva shared with him before she left for New York. When Martin, Eva’s father, has his vintage 57 Chevy truck stolen, Nate becomes enmeshed in Eva’s life once again. And Martin’s cancer makes Nate re-evaluate holding grudges.
There are a lot of details about cars in the book and the way in which Nate commands a little army of mechanics has a certain underground flavor to the book.
The story is told in alternating POVs. First person for Eva and third person for Nate. Nate is presented as the bad boy grown up and responsible and, conveniently, very wealthy. He fits the alpha male fantasy fairly well, exhibiting both protectiveness and jealousy at the right moments. Eva, as the over worked concerned daughter trying to win back her ex, also reads authentic. She displays vulnerability and regretfulness alongside her desire to run her own business and be a success on her own.
The success of this story will largely rest on whether the reader feels that Eva should be forgiven. The emotional argument could have been better laid out and from time to time, I didn’t feel like the scenes always flowed coherently together. The ending suspense plot was a bit over the top. However, I’d read another Becky Banks book and I felt that the setting and characters were fresh enough to make this self published book stand out for me and in a good way, not in a “oh my god, that is possibly the worst cover I’ve ever seen” way. C+