Reviewed: February 20, 2010
Genre: LGBT-M/M Romantic Suspense
Series: N/A ~ (Non-Series / Stand-Alone)
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 280 Pages (Volume 1); 298 Pages (Volume 2)
Woo boy. I'm not really sure where to start. Oh, wait - first and foremost, I want to warn readers who are interested in purchasing A Matter Of Time: Book I that it is not a stand-alone book. It ends with nothing really resolved - not what I'd call a cliffhanger, exactly, but something similar...and it just sort of cuts off mid-sentence. By the time you get to the end of Book II...and Book III...you'll see that each of them do, too. And despite it's many, many flaws (and I'll get into them in a minute), the overall story is endearing enough for it to become addicting to forgiving readers (or at least tolerant ones), so you're going to be spending a lot more money than you'd thought to experience the whole story. The fact that this four book "series" is in actuality one long story with several different plot points spread out over the span of all four parts makes it necessary to warn readers who are expecting a contained and complete book and the first book in a series of similarly complete books.
That being said, lets talk about A Matter of Time. Book I starts the story of Jory Keyes, the gay twenty-something playboy who is the personal assistant of Dane Harcourt, architect extraordinaire. Jory is called late one night and asked to do a favor for a friend. That favor ends up changing - and threatening - his life. Literally tripping onto the scene of a murder in progress leaves Jory marked for death and under the protection of vice detective Sam Kade, and only Sam's fierce determination to keep Jory safe - and more than a bit of sexual need - stands between Jory and a murderous racketeer. But when Jory starts falling for the manly detective, the threat to Jory is taken to a whole other level because it's his heart, not just his life, on the line. But Sam Kade is straight...or is he? As it turns out, not even Sam himself is too sure of that.
In Book II, Dane takes more of a stand in Jory's life, and while Jory is suffering a broken heart after Sam decides he can't give up his dreams of a traditional marriage and family to be with Jory, Dane is there to make Jory a part of his family and get him started on the road to independence. But don't write Sam off yet, because the detective can't forget our favorite boy and when the repercussions of Jory's testimony start to get insidiously dangerous, Sam can only drop back into his life to recapture his heart and save his life and soul. But will it last this time?
Book III takes a sudden and huge leap in time forward - three years forward, in fact - and Dane is off on his honeymoon while Jory has recovered...more or less...from the devastation of Sam's departure in Book II. But Sam and Jory run into each other and the sparks start to fly...again. This time, however, Jory can't risk his heart on someone he's certain is just going to walk away again. It's up to Sam to convince him that everything is different now, but when bodies start piling up and the past comes back to haunt them, will the strain put the final nail in their relationship coffin...or just Jory's?
Book IV picks up right where Book III left off and after a tragedy that shakes Jory to his foundations and threatens the life of his beloved detective, Sam Kade, Jory takes off to track down the threat, determined that no one is going to hurt his man. With a crafty set of maneuvers that send Dane and his wife's heart racing Jory is relentless in his pursuit of information about his own latest abduction while keeping tabs on his man as he lies in a hospital bed. When all this is over, will love conquer the day, or will ashes be all that's left when Jory openly defies his love of Sam and his brother Dane to follow the trail of clues to the core of evil that's haunting them all?
I have to admit, I had many issues with A Matter of Time (and I'm referring to all four "books" together), but the story itself...the plot, the characters, what happens and who it happens to...wasn't any of them. I have nothing but respect for every author who puts in the work to write a book or a series of books, and in that regard, I respect Calmes and credit her achievements. Jory's story really grew on me, and I read all four of them over the last four days. Unfortunately, it wasn't the story, but the mechanics of the writing that I have so many problems with.
Bluntly put, and given A Matter of Time as the yardstick, Calmes' writing ability is not up to professional contemporary standards. Literally riddled with stilted conversations, a bare-bones narrative that came across as almost clinically detached and rapid-fire to the extreme (though that was either less noticeable in Book IV or I got too used to it to notice it as sharply by then), anemic character development ripe with cliche - most notably for secondary and ancillary characters - continuity flaws, inconsistent characterizations, spelling errors, butchered grammar and sentence structure, repetition of plot, theme, and conversations, bizarre pacing, undefined and abrupt jumps in time, characters doing things that make no logical sense, narrative that makes no sense, ridiculously absurd happenstance with no sufficient explanation to allow for a consistent willing suspension of disbelief...and the list goes on...the story as a whole reads less like a published novel and more like a poorly written fan fiction. I know that sounds really harsh, and I support small, independent publishers that may not be able to afford high power editors, but at some point you have to hold an author accountable for the mechanics of writing a story they sell. This should've been self-edited - or get a group of friends together to help. Just correcting the grammar and sentence structure would've been a huge assist.
And yet, despite all that negativity (and I really do regret having to say it), I give the series a 3 stars. If you're particularly unforgiving about writing mechanics, I can not in good conscience recommend this title, but if you're more tolerant of that sort of thing and like a m/m romantic thriller, give it a try. I did enjoy the story and I liked Jory. I had a love/hate thing going on with Sam (ending on a high point), and I wish there'd been a bit more focus on Dane, as I found him compelling. I will warn you, though, this is not a m/m erotica novel. Yes, there's sex, but it's hardly more daring than the m/m equivalent of traditional mass market paperback het sex. Nothing too graphic or extreme, and though dominance and submission is a theme, it's more the nature of the characters (big alpha male dominant, smaller gay young man submissive) than in any way BDSM.
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