Friday, November 11, 2016

Review Copy: Ricky by Ashley John

From The Blurb:
On the surface, Ricky Thompson’s life is one long party. His razor sharp wit and unwavering sexual confidence masks his true pain and suffering, and that’s how he wants to keep things. Ten years after the death of his fiancĂ©, Ricky has completely given up on the illusion of love. Wild nights in the bar and even wilder casual sex have become his coping mechanism, and he wants to keep the party going at whatever cost. When he is attacked in a dark alley and left for dead, Ricky’s life takes an unexpected turn and the party suddenly comes to an end. 
Chase Brody doesn’t know where life is taking him. Between running his gym and raising his son, Dylan, the only time he puts himself first is his once a week trip to the gay bars. His family has convinced him he needs to find a mother for Dylan, so he keeps his sexual desires secret. He always believed women were for love and men were for sex, but he is forced to reevaluate everything he thought he knew when he stumbles across a helpless man in need of his help. 
After Chase takes Ricky to the hospital, he offers him free self-defence classes, but it soon grows into something more complicated and both men are forced to listen to their hearts once again. Chase doesn’t know how Ricky will fit into his difficult life, and Ricky can’t seem to let go of his past heartache. With so much at stake, will these men admit they were wrong about love and surrender their hearts to each other, or is the risk too great?

Karen's rating:

How many times can you use a word...

Well apparently in the case of Ricky you can use one word a lot and I do mean A LOT!!! Ricky's favorite word is 'sweetheart', that's right, it's his tagline if you will. He calls everyone 'sweetheart'. He actually uses the word somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 times give or take a 'sweetheart', that's right, I counted. I have to admit overusing a term of endearment is one easy way to haul me out of a story, but ironically in the case of this book it didn't seem to bother me that way. I suppose it was because Ricky used the term the most of us would use 'he' or 'she' or 'hey you', it really didn't hold any personal intimacy.

I found Ricky to be an interesting character. He was flamboyant, totally over the top, he ran a bookstore by day and was a Drag Queen DJ by night. He was also brave and outspoken and fearless when he needed to be. Except when it came to his personal life than Ricky was a runner whether he was actually running as in packing his bags and getting the hell out of Dodge or running figuratively by making rules that kept people at arms length, rules like...1. No names, 2. No second dates 3. No breakfast and 4. No falling in love. He'd loved once and he'd lost, making emotional detachment his coping mechanism.

Ricky lost the love of his life 10 years ago and he wasn't going through that again if he could avoid it. I can empathize with that, I understand not wanting to feel that kind of heartache again but seriously I'm of the 'better to have loved and lost' school of philosophy myself. So on this level I just couldn't quite connect with Ricky, other than to say it made me sad that someone who was so vital and vibrant and had so much to share with the world was hiding...such a waste of life.

This brings us to Chase. Chase is handsome, covered in tats and mouth-watering muscle. He runs a gym with his brother, he lives for his son, Dylan, the happy result of a one night stand that ended with Chase becoming a single father nine months later when there was a knock on his door and a baby delivered into his arms.

Chase's commitment to Dylan was 100% except on that one night a week when he went out. The one night that resulted in him crossing paths with Ricky...a beaten and badly injured version of Ricky but still one that Chase felt compelled to help and found himself drawn to.

'Ricky' ended up just being ok for me. It was a bit on the longish side and I felt like it could have been a bit shorter and probably delivered a better paced story. The other thing that took away from this story for me was the number of secondary characters that just were not likable and ironically this was also one of the things that impressed me about this book, so let me explain...

Probably the only secondary character that I really liked was Chase's neighbour Annie. She was a sweet and kind grandmotherly type and I loved the lack of judgement that she had and her quiet but solid acceptance of Chase.  As for Chase's family...holy crap!!! I have to admit, that a family like this produced a nice, sweet guy like Chase is astounding. His father was simply a jerk from the word go, his brother was following in daddy's footsteps and the sister-in-law had a bitch level all her own. The step-mom didn't do much more than blip my radar but I think she might have been ok. And last but not least we have Chase's son, Dylan.

While I by no means disliked Dylan, I didn't really like him either.  I don't actually recall the last time I encountered a child real or fictitious who left me feeling so ambivalent. For me Dylan just had no personality and given the emotional response that this author drew from me in regards to secondary characters I'm a little surprised and disappointed at the lack of personality displayed by Dylan. For me it just didn't feel right.

Also I just need to quickly mention Ricky's friend Tom. I'm not even really sure why but I just didn't like this character. I didn't think he was bad or evil in any way. He just struck me as whiny and not someone I'd care to know.

The fact that the author created secondary characters that long after I've finished the book can still bring out a bit of a visceral reaction in in point the sister-in-law, Natalie, she was definitely my least favorite person in the whole book. Natalie was the personification of a pretentious, self-centered, self-absorbed bitch (sorry, I just don't have another word for her). That the author was able to draw such strong feelings from me about a secondary character, for me, speaks to the author's skill as a writer and his ability to create vivid images.

Unfortunately when my emotional responses are stronger to secondary characters than they are to the MCs than there's just something not working quite right for me. So while I am impressed with the authors ability to create these strong visual and emotional responses within me, as a reader I needed to make more of an emotional connection with the MCs than I was making in order for the story to really work.


A copy of 'Ricky' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.,13755166

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Reading gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are.  (Mason Cooley)

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