Saturday, November 30, 2019

ARC Review: Whatever It Takes by Barbara Elsborg

From The Blurb:
War in Syria has devastated Zain’s country, destroyed his family and broken his heart. When there is nothing left to stay for, he journeys to England, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and train as a doctor in London. He might be a refugee with no money, no friends and no qualifications but he still has his dreams and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure his future turns out to be the one he wants. 
Roman is a world away from the naïve Russian boy who lost everything, one devastating day. Now he’s a fixer for a wealthy Russian, keeping the guy’s business dealings away from the attention of the British authorities. Roman is balanced on a moral tightrope which grows more unsteady by the day. The last thing he needs is to become emotionally involved with a young Syrian, especially when he can’t afford to trust anyone. 
A chance discovery in Roman’s car by Zain sets off a violent chain reaction and Zain is thrown into a world that threatens not just his dreams but his life. Roman has difficult decisions to make. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to keep Zain safe. But lingering shadows from their pasts as well as prominent figures from Roman’s present need to be eliminated if they’re to have a chance together. As lies and danger escalate, are they doomed before they’ve even begun?

Karen's rating:

It was good...
                       just not the great that I was hoping for, but...
maybe, that's on me...

While I haven't read a lot of books by Barbara Elsborg, I have very much enjoyed the 3 that I have read by this author with 2 of them being 5 star reads.

"Edge of Forever" was the last book that I read by Ms Elsborg and I really loved that one with it's Russian setting. So, when I read the blurb and once again it was a story set, at least partially in Russia, I was all in for this one and so excited to read it and maybe that was part of my problem and I was setting my expectations too high. While 3 stars isn't a bad rating by any means I have to admit I was expecting to give this more than what for me is a slightly above average rating.

Overall I enjoyed ‘Whatever It Takes’ but I just didn’t love it the way I did ‘Edge of Forever’ or ‘Dirty Angel’. For me it seemed to hold a touch of predictability that ultimately tended to be a bit distracting at times, as my brain wandered through book titles trying to decide if this story was reminiscent of another book or books that I’ve read what they were and I have to admit I never really came to any solid conclusions about this…it simply proved to be a distracting thought that I couldn’t shake.

For me the bigger issue was that I didn’t find myself feeling overly connected to the characters. Other than Zain and Roman there really weren’t any characters in the story that were even likable and at that even Zain and Roman were only likeable…at best.

As for any characters who held my attention let alone had me interested in finding out more about them…there just weren’t any and while this isn’t a prerequisite, I think that it only stands to reason that...the more I like a character or the more characters that I like, either or both scenarios are good...the more I'll enjoy a story.

Another sticking point that I had were that some of the parallels between Zain and Roman turned out to be just a bit much for me to totally buy into and I have to admit this is where I also think it’s as much me or more so than the story. I’ve read books that have had some really over the top stuff in them. Things that make the coincidences in this story seem like they could be just that…coincidences but for whatever reason that wasn’t the case here and they became things that just didn’t work for me.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this story was the way the author presented it to us. The author started out giving us a chapter that was just Roman’s background and then we were given a chapter about Zain’s background before being brought into the present starting with events and circumstances that lead to Roman and Zain’s first meeting. While there were occasional dips into the past as the story progressed and this also gave us a bit more background on both characters I really enjoyed that originally we were introduced to them individually allowing the reader to meet each man on an individual basis and get of sense of who they each were at the beginning of their relationship as opposed to how they grew and changed as individuals and as a couple.

I truly do think at the end of the day this was more than anything a case of reading the wrong book on the wrong day. I’ve quite enjoyed this author’s books in the past and I’m sure that at some future date I’ll be writing a review about some amazing story of hers that I’ve read and how you all need to read it, it’s just not this day or this story but I do know that a number of my friends felt differently about this one so check them out because what doesn’t work for one often works for another and this may be that one for you.


An ARC of “Whatever It Takes” was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Expected Publication Date: December 2, 2019

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

Buylinks are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with this book, author or booksellers listed.

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