Monday, April 2, 2012

One Good Year by Rowan McBride

TITLE: One Good Year
AUTHOR: Rowan McBride
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 824k)
GENRE: Gay paranormal romance
COST: $4.99

A year after Spade was on in a card game, he’s still devoted to his master Ace but wondering why he doesn’t feel more secure in the relationship. Ace does everything he can to convince him, but it takes another of Spade’s kind threatening to tear them apart forever for the lovers to face what it means to belong to each other…

Revisiting loved characters in subsequent books is often dangerous, especially when a lot of time has elapsed. Unfortunately, this short sequel to One Good Hand fails to deliver much of anything except a brief walk down memory lane.

Told in 1st person from Spade’s POV, this is a short revisit in Spade and Ace’s lives together, almost a year after Ace won Spade in a poker game. Spade is an alien species, designed to be the perfect match for whoever owns him, and in the first book, proved he was the right partner for Ace when their bond was solidified. Spade meets another of his kind who has been looking for them ever since they crashed fifteen years ago, but his intentions soon become evident. He thinks Ace will hurt Spade, so he’s determined to separate the two permanently by erasing their memories.

While I really enjoyed the first book, and often find this author very enjoyable, this story ultimately didn’t work for me. First of all, it relies too heavily on knowing its predecessor, with characterizations that tell more than show and too little attention breathing fresh life into them. Even recognizing it won’t work as a standalone, however, it becomes mired in its own over-romanticism and sentimentality. These guys are mushy from the very start, and it borders on nauseating because there’s just no ebb and flow to make their relationship feel real.

On top of that, we’re introduced to Ancel, another of Spade’s kind, who was defective and thus has other abilities that Spade doesn’t. He becomes this omnipotent force that threatens to come between Ace and Spade, but his conflict is introduced too late in the story for it to have much impact, not to mention I had very little opportunity to really get to know him as a character before the threats began. Maybe if he’d seemed more genuine or if I’d known him better, I wouldn’t have been as annoyed by what felt like manufactured conflict.

In all fairness, I think this short novella would do best with readers who were highly invested in the couple as based on their first story and really want to see something – anything – with them again. Otherwise, I’d pass.


7/10 – Overly romantic and too repetitive to be a quick read

Hero #1

5/10 – Even though we’re in his POV, I felt I knew him better in the first book than this one

Hero #2

6/10 – His constant indecision and fear were grating

Entertainment value

4/10 – Doesn’t work as a standalone at all

World building

5/10 – Too much is left unexplained, new readers won’t get it easily



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