Another powerful, edgy read from Mercy Celeste.
**This review contains some spoilers. Do not read the first paragraph if you want to take the full journey from your own perspective or from a fresh view.**
I feel it would be remiss of me not to point this out - While the cover is shiny and sweet, and the premise appears to be a cowboy's enemies to lovers story, which it is: there are also dark moments in the book. There is darkness in both character's backstories, including non-con/rape and rough dialogue that goes with it. So be aware if it is a trigger for you. I have read more graphic, more explicit books, but it's an individual thing. It does go to plot and the character's psychology. It deals with one of the protagonists being sexually used and abused from a young age (with some flashbacks). Plus, who the main antagonist is aids in ramping up the uncomfortable factor further.The abuser does come back towards the latter part and it is shortish but on page. It could been seen as unpleasant, depends on what bothers you. But, please take into account that it is part of a scarred psychological/emotional journey for both of the MC's, but one of the MC's in particular has lived a very hard life. You do need to give the book a go, if this doesn't bother you, to see what it is about. There are more moments centred on Eli and Creed getting together. Something else I'm going to add. I believe there's been some nasty 'attention' over this book, if that is so, I'm disgusted about this. This book has, as part of the storyline, some 'rough' parts, taken in context, one can understand this. However, if you don't like a book or contents move on, or read, rate, and review in the proper forum in a reasoned way.
Basic premise is that Eli and Creed, the two MC's, antagonism towards one another comes to a head and they find themelves sentenced to house arrest, after a bar fight, complete with ankle monitors. The sentences are to be served in the same house, Eli's.While together, they argue, work the property, find common ground, discover hurts, some truths, have some pretty damn hot sex, and start to find a home of sorts in each other and the property. The property that used to be Eli's family home, prior to the death of his nuclear family. The place is like a 'frozen moment in time,' with pictures of Eli's (slightly altered) family staring down at him, old furniture, decor and clothing left in tact, like they're coming back. Eli has spent a lot of time on the rodeo circuit, as has Creed, so he hasn't spent as much time at the family property. Both men are on the circuit for similar reasons, both pushed into it by others, and for competitive natures, and because of family dysfucntion. Creed rides horses, Eli, bulls. Both are also coming to the end of wanting that life. Eli, though, has been educated, and provided for, his father was a lawyer. Creed has pretty much dragged himself up with barely enough to survive, so there was no time for school.
What I liked -
Finding out why the protagonists are who they are. Why has Creed had the fire knocked out of him? Why does Eli have so much fire in him? Why is Eli so mad at Creed? Why does Eli just have to see Creed and get irrationally angry? Why does Creed pull the shutters down? When will they realise the common denominator in their lives and problems? Initially it's easy to believe a lot of their problems stem from rivalry on the circuit -
The sex was hot, yet not as frequent as some of Mercy Celeste's others; but when it happened, between the two MC's, I liked it. There was a lot in the plot, not as in crazy-packed-to-the-rafters, but a fair bit nevertheless. There was a build, you can sense where it's going via small flashback moments, descriptions of events, scars; and then a large unravelling of events and reasons how two men found themselves where they were, and why.
You get to see both Eli and Creed's POV, amongst a couple of other's, Randy included. I liked Randy's take on Eli's house, the 'ghosts' and the feeling of a it being almost like a mausoleum. The house was a pretty good metaphor for where the two protagonists were in their lives, stuck. Randy infuriated me at times but he was a pretty decent guy in the wash-up. The secondary characters, Sly, (Judge) Tom, Randy, Sawyer, were all interesting characters. I like to know what the MC's are thinking and the occasional secondary character, if it helps the plot. Here, because they have such intense issues, I wanted their perspective on what shaped them, how they felt about one another, why they reacted as they did and what was changing for them.
There was much in common for the MC's growing up yet, ironically, neither knew about the degree of difficulty the other was experiencing over 10 + years of built-up hate/repressed fondness. Their read on each other was off. There were clues but they were young and you don't pick up on much but your own life then. I loved seeing their strengthening of feelings or why they were really holding back, I wanted to know what was actually going on when the characters verbal communication was not working so well. I felt the characters were fleshed out well..
What I didn't like so much -
When there were flashbacks - and there's not a lot of them - they were not as well signposted as I might like, making me realign where I was at. It threw the reading momentum off.
The antagonist was a bit OTT and so dispicable that I found it better when page time was devoted elsewhere. In all fairness more time was spent elsewhere.
I didn't really connect to either MC in a 'I love them' kind of way. Mercy Celeste is one of the few writers who can do that and still make me enjoy the writing. I'd just like to feel the love more.
Normally I break down characters but because these two had such intertwined history I can't really do that here. Eli and Creed are a package deal. Just know that they both had problems, there was a linking factor. There may have been animosity but, paradoxically, there were also buried affections and feelings of kinship from their earliest days. However, their situations, and Eli's and Creed's anger/fear didn't allow things to progress in a healthy way. When they got together it was rough sometimes but they were good together. When Randy saw them asleep together it was a really nice moment - Creed having a small smile on his face and Randy realising it was just like him being with his wife. My feelings vacillated on both charcaters throughout. I may not have loved them but I certainly empathised with Eli and Creed. They deserved to be happy and healthy. I definitely wanted that for them
I had to think about this book a while before reviewing. The bottom line is it ellicited emotions from me - I felt ticked off, I felt sad, angry, happy. It made me wan't to see what was going to happen. Would they make it? Could their relationship deal with what had happened? If a book cannot feed my emotions then it's no good to me. I'll say one thing, Mercy Celeste does not shy away from an edgy book, and Let It Go is true to form. There is angst in this book, not Amy Lane angst, it's more stripped back, laid bare, not as melodramatic. It's 'blue-collar-rough.'
Lastly, there is a positive, happy ending, and an excellent epilogue, so HEA loving people will, hopefully, be satisfied. I do like Mercy Celeste as a writer and the trend continues with Let It Go.