Thursday, October 13, 2016

Anne Brooke - The Hit List

Jamie Chadwick is straight. Determinedly straight. Or so he keeps telling himself. His small conference business is doing okay and, even though he looks after his ailing father, he loves living in the countryside and life is good. Sort of. But the arrival of old college friend, David Fenchurch, who’s just come out on the distinctly camp side of camp, together with Lucy Reid, his father’s sexy new physiotherapist, sets Jamie on a path he’d never dreamed of taking. On top of all that, the unexpected return of long-lost family friend, Robert Trevelyan, himself openly gay, means that Jamie can no longer ignore the past he’s kept hidden for six years. When Robert and David get together, Jamie’s feelings begin to surface in surprising ways. Who, amongst the crowd of people set to blow his life apart, will make it onto his fantasy hit list? And in the midst of Jamie’s own emotional battlefield, how can he keep things together at all?

Comment: Another book that has been in the pile for years...not many, but some. I try to mix in current releases to books getting dust in hidden piles but it's complicated to update my TBR list to a reasonable size, but...I try.

In this story we meet Jamie Chadwick, a young British man who works at home, he has a business he can run from his father's house even more so because he need to help his father. His older brother is away in Japan and it's up to Jamie to do everything but it's getting complicated, his father is old and has some health issues.
But what concerns Jamie the most is the need to convince himself he is straight and to help that he tries to date women, not always feeling what he did with Robert, a friend of his older brother he kissed years ago but that he never saw again.
The return of Robert, the community relationships and connections that stress him out, the worry over his job and an important contract, proving to himself he isn't gay and jealousy make him start a fake hit list and that is Jamie's escape valve. But what about realistic life goals and personal wishes?

This story begun very weird and difficult to go through. The first chapters were confusing and I felt the lack of aim or structure. This is the first book by this author I try and I have to say the beginning wasn't very impressive.
Jamie's behavior and weird hit list - the idea seems quite over the top, to be honest - also made it hard to stay focused because I didn't feel this interesting enough.
I kept going and from the middle of the book onward things were looking up, mostly because I could glimpse the emotional effect trying to deny reality and fake things was doing to Jamie.

The concept of the story is confusing. Jamie starts the hit list to let go of some stress and impotence to change what he considers unfair situations in his life, namely the fact he's stuck taking care of his father and that he can't stop thinking he might be gay. His relationship with his brother isn't good either and although his work is going well, a major job he has to deliver makes things even worse.
There are a lot of emotional layers to peel of but at first Jamie just seemed obnoxious, stubborn and silly. I get his reasons but his behavior wasn't what I expected from someone doubting himself. His relationship with Lucy, to convince himself he wasn't gay had its moments but wasn't always very believable. Or maybe it's just part of the British culture...

When things start to get out of Jamie's control and Robert's presence more constant, it becomes obvious to us something happened between them but it's already well into the story we get to know exactly what was that. I can understand Jamie's fears and doubts in the past and the emotional weight it must have been for both was well done. I think this book is positive enough just for the interesting emotional situations and elements included. Towards the end, Jamie's true feelings get more and more obvious. Of course we'd always like fictional characters to act more quickly but I kind of liked how challenging it was for Jamie to confess or admit whatever related to Robert and some of his fears about other things as well.

I don't think this book is completely successful to me only because there are too many pointless characters and situations that get some focus out of where it should be. For quite the intelligent and driven character, Jamie often has weird actions I can't understand why would matter at all.
The writing is also boring at times, I suppose it's the way it is, but I struggled to always be focused on the book.
Apparently, this is considered a comedy but I didn't find it funny. In fact, what made it good for me were precisely the challenging and darker emotions portrayed here.
I liked the HEA presented and would have liked to see more of it, after all the indecision we had to go trough in the story. Anyway, a good enough story, interesting elements but in my opinion it surely could have used some more editing.
And another word, writing aside, this particular cover seems too much in the funny side but without looking as captivating as it could.
Grade: 5/10

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