Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sharing is Caring - Books: "Countdown" by Julie Cannon

Note: This ARC was provided by NetGalley & Bold Strokes Books in exchange for an honest review.
To purchase this novel, please see links at the bottom of the review.

3.5 stars

So we start out with a typical lesbian romance story line - uptight Andrea Finley has never let her hair down, so to speak.  As Flight Director for NASA, Andrea has led and continued living a structured, predispositioned, and - frankly - boring life.  When things go wrong on Andrea's current mission, in comes Kenner Hutchings, the girl with the gift of knowing how to solve problems in the technical and scientific world due to her photographic memory (even though neither character believes that's a real thing).  Kenner is the opposite of Andrea, playing fast and loose with her life - and the women she takes to bed. Moving from lover to lover and job to job, Kenner doesn't let anything get in her way, and she doesn't have to listen to other people when she tends to be the smartest one in the room.  When Andrea and Kenner meet, they are instantly at war, both with each other, and their growing attraction of one another.  Will pristine Andrea be able to relax enough for Kenner to take her seriously?  Will Kenner show the respect she needs to get Andrea to understand and trust her?  Or will their budding "relationship" come crashing down before it even has a chance to lift off?

The premise of this novel fascinated me - NASA, a space mission in turmoil, love brewing between the anxiety and need to rescue the crew, and all the true-to-life science fiction nuances you could throw in to boot.  But in the end, the story lacked in certain areas that made the novel fall short in some key places.

The Good
The characters, on their own and in their own realm, were interesting.  They were complex in their one-dimensional issues and personal battles.  Andrea Finley needed to learn how to relax and let go, relinquish all of the control she held onto in every aspect of her life.  Kenner Hutchings needed to learn how to take better care of her authenticity and her personal life and, therefore, herself as a whole.  They each had one thing to fix, but Julie Cannon showered each character with qualities and quirks to make those mundane and common characteristics used in novels across all genres seem unique and intricate amongst the stereotypical backdrop.

The Bad
Unfortunately, there were a few things that made the story hard to get through in the end.  There were two biggest aspects to me that caused the story to derail.  

One was the fact that the angst riddled throughout the story was overwhelming, to the point that it was almost it's own character.  Then, in the end, the angst disappeared within two pages of the last paragraph, and suddenly the story was over and meant to be complete because, suddenly, Kenner had changed her ways, as had Andrea, and neither one of them was the same character whatsoever that they started as - but not in a warm, feel-good, progressive kind of way.  Kenner was in love in 8 days (after living the life of a fuck toy for who knows how long), and Andrea had thrown in her pencil skirt and ironed blouses for a toss and tumble in a king-sized bed in Washington, DC. I'm sorry, but...what?! The ending was waaaayyyy too rushed, too far out of left field to the rest of the story, and too...I don't even think they've developed a word yet for how it was both predictable in the way a bad movie's ending was predictable, but also surprising at just how far it strayed from the original story.

The other aspect was that it was often confusing throughout certain areas of the novel.  On more than three different occasions, I had to go back and reread what I had just read as I felt as if I got stuck in a time loop somewhere, and didn't know what end I emerged out from before the next scene.  Something wasn't right, something didn't add up, someone was in the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong emotional bracket even.  I'd reread the previous few paragraphs and, at times, pages, to find that - no - that actually WAS how it was supposed to read, but that the details were left out for you to fill in yourself.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am the first person to tell you that I hate being TOLD what to feel and understand when it comes to reading.  I love a writer that can write me through a way to figure it out on my own and give me my own special "light bulb moment" when it becomes clear what was meant to be conceived.  But in many different areas of this novel, I was left to fend for myself in a way where I couldn't find the path to follow.  As I said, it was just...confusing.

Any lesbian romance that breaks the mold, even in a small way, such as this one by incorporating a spacey theme in the background and putting two women in powerful positions to show their strength and dexterity - these novels always appeal to me first and foremost.  So I'm always a little extra heartbroken when these novels don't blow me away (and I call myself out for expecting that just because of a synopsis).  

All in all, the book was worth the read, just to learn that I may find some other favorites in Julie Cannon and to see how lesbian romance is attempting to branch off into directions we haven't traveled to much (yet).  It's nice to see attempts being made to break that mold as I described, and can't wait to find more that will do this, and blow me away in the journey.

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


You can purchase this novel on October 19th, 2015 (Bold Strokes Books has released it early!!  You can buy it NOW on Bold Strokes Books' website!!) from Bold Strokes Books or Amazon.

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