Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Victoria Darkins - The Key

Jack and Carrie are lost souls. Jack is an eminent university lecturer in English Literature who suffers from quadriplegia after a spinal cord injury in his late teens. Having convinced himself that he was better off on his own he has closed the door on any romantic entanglements and instead directed all his energy into his work.
Carrie is trying to unchain herself from a cruel, neglectful and guilt ridden childhood. She has earned a place on a degree course of her dreams but it comes at a costly price.
Both are thrown together by Mary, a mutual friend and past social worker, who has hatched a plan to help Jack and Carrie with their predicaments. Carrie becomes Jack's live-in carer securing her with an income and unexpected benefits.
Will it be too late from them to find out that they both hold the key to unleash each other from the chains that hold them to their past? A key that will unlock their hearts.

Comment: I got interested in this book because of the blurb. The idea of a romance between two people who have been through a lot, albeit differently, was extremely promising, even more so after recent bestselling books portraying characters with a disability but in this case with the knowledge of a HEA at the end.

This is Jack and Carrie's story and how they are brought together by Mary, a common person in their lives.
Carrie needs money so she can keep studying but she isn't able to easily trust everyone so the job of taking care of Jack sounds perfect, even more so when it comes with a house and health benefits she wouldn't be able to afford on her own.
Jack is quadriplegic so he is used to need help for a long time. Carrie isn't a professional but he knows of her financial issues so he doesn't mind letting her learn how to do things. They are both wary of letting someone get too close but the reality is that common living and close space make room for a developing friendship...and more.

I liked the idea of this book so much, I totally overlooked the fact this is the author's apparent first (and only) book. Well, this could mean nothing, there are many cases of amazing one hit books out here but the truth is I found some aspects in this story which have let me down quite a bit...

The biggest issue I feel happened here is the under developing of the characters. We are told many things about them, hey think and mention this and that but to be honest I don't think we truly got to know these characters where it counted and I can empathize all I want but they sound as if the author planned on creating enough layers for us to keep discovering and to give the idea of complexity to their personalities. They were simply drawn and heir lives and mental situation never explored to the point where this would be truly romantic or emotionally vibrant.

I really think both Jack and Carrie had enough details about their characters that would allow the story to be great, I imagined a reluctant but slowly developing romance where both would try to stay distant but nevertheless becoming even closer int he process. I imagined meaningful conversations about their pasts, I imagined a more detailed situation for each in a way they would use what happened to them to create a better future and although we are told all that, it was not written in a way that can say I found addictive.
The narrative felt choppy, broken in some places, there wasn't always a continuous line in terms of chapter formatting... so the plot, as a whole felt rather plain and too obvious. I wonder if a better editing would have solved it or if the writing is simply too amateur because the author couldn't say things differently.

The romance is obviously an expectation we get while reading. I kind of wanted them to focus more on their feelings for one another before admitting them but things weren't as easy as that. I liked the details about Jack's problem and how someone like him copes but the emotional aspect wasn't very stressed here. Carrie's past too wasn't well explored. I understand and liked how we didn't enter melodramatic areas with this but reading the blurb one would expect their pasts would have been more complicated than the way they talk about it. This means the romance was a bit too simple. Plus, I don't think there was enough sexual tension or emotional development to make me believe they were truly passionate for the other.

All in all, an interesting contemporary novel, interesting themes but the HEA, despite welcome, wasn't very well created and the characters weren't as amazing as I imagined.
Grade: 6/10

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