The first book in a planned series by indie author Monique Domovitch, I won this title in a giveaway in August. I know how hard it can be for indie authors to get their work out there and recognised, so as soon as I found the energy to spend a day reading from my PC screen, I got to it.
I would like to point out that all opinions are my own and I have not glossed this review for the sake of the author.
Presentation: E-book. My copy was 335 pages long with 21 chapters. Some of the chapters are long (30+ pages) others very short (the shortest was only 2 pages long).
Story: Alexander dreams of escaping his life - the dingy little flat where he lives with his mother who has to sell her body to make ends meet – and making it to Manhattan to become a big name in architecture. He pushes himself, never allowing himself to connect with another too much in case they get in the way of his dreams becoming reality.
Brigitte is thrown out of her home with nowhere to turn to when her jealous mother catches her stepfather in the act of raping her. She finds herself with a benefactor looking after her every need, but when she learns that not only is she pregnant with her rapist’s child but also her benefactor’s motives go beyond wanting to help a girl in need, she runs away and starts a new life for herself, determined to make ends meet with her art.
Thoughts and impressions: Right as of the first chapter, this book hit me with its blunt approach to events and sex in particular. This actually worked really well in the story’s favour. It was refreshing to see a blunt and rather detached view of sex rather than flowery “love’s milk” or treading lightly around the subject. One quote in particular really got to me: ‘“This will be our little secret,” Lucien told her when she opened her eyes. “If you even think of telling anyone, I’ll kill you.” Then he raped her.’ (chap 2) The simplicity with which this horrible action is portrayed really worked for me. I think it’s very hard to portray rape with words because there’s so much in the action that goes beyond mere words. I commend Monique Domovitch for not trying to even go into the character’s thoughts about how she is treated, but hinting at what consequences it has on her life, thus allowing the reader to supply those thoughts for Brigitte in whatever manner works for them personally.
I was expecting a love story in this story. I expected the characters to meet and form some form of relationship and then make their way through at least some good portion of the story together working out their differences. In actual fact, they don’t meet until very close to the end of this book. I would have liked to have seen more relationship growth between them: once they do finally meet it does seem a bit rushed. I would also have liked to have seen more consequences to certain plot points that were brought up closer to the end, but as naming them would lead to spoilers I will refrain from doing so and simply state my hope that they will be addressed in the sequel.
This said, the characters not meeting until closer to the end does not have any negative effect on the story itself beyond how rushed their relationship felt. The story is about the growth of both of these people from disillusioned youths to adults who have fought tooth and nail for what little they have. The story occasionally slips into a side character’s head for a bit – my favourite of these was Anne. She’s one of those characters that you love to hate. You can understand her actions, even her motives, but you still condemn her for them (which she deserves) but this just served to make her a more interesting antagonist. I can already see her causing all sorts of problems for Alex in the sequel!
There are some really precious gem scenes in this novel. One in particular involves Alex and a certain unexpected surprise when he accompanies a Moulin Rouge dancer home. I had to stop reading to laugh! The somewhat detached bluntness of the narrative just increased the humour to be found in this scene. Loved it!
Style: As mentioned, detached and blunt. I don’t often like this style but in this case it really worked well with the story.
Final verdict: I really enjoyed this one. It was an honest look at the brutality of the dog-eat-dog world that these characters inhabit. 5 stars.
Extra notes: Infrequent language; references to sex, act itself is never described in detail but you know it is taking place.