It's Been Awhile
by Lexie Davis, contemporary (2007)
Total-e-bound, £2.49, ISBN 978-1-906328-41-2

I've made a correction in this review - I mistakenly stated that the hero took the heroine's virginity when he actually didn't. Sorry about that.

It's Been Awhile is, I believe, part of a series called Darkfever. That's what I think anyway, judging from that word placed right above the title of this book in the title page. I don't think it's a shout-out to Karen Marie Moning's much needed new direction in her writing career, so yes, it must be the title of the series.

This is the first sentence of the story. I've just copied and pasted it from the PDF file so I've not changed anything about it.

The blonde girl standing in the corner of the bar licked her lips drawing Ben Hawkins attention to her lush figure.

This just won't do, don't you think?

I also find it odd to read a story with British spellings ("organise" instead of "organize", for example) when the story is set in a town in Texas. Not that there is anything wrong with this, of course, I just find it a little weird the same way I will scratch my head should some characters in a story set in London start using "inches" and "yards" to measure lengths and distances.

Also, I'm not sure that a supposedly hot and popular band like Darkfever will play in the community hall of a "Podunk town", as Ms Davis puts it, unless there is a very good reason, such as the mayor of the town having in his possession photographs of the band manager with a pack of Dobermanns doing something that is illegal in every state in the USA. These guys need a break and for some reason they are heading back to Tyler, a place which none of the members seem too fond of going back to in the first place, so they figure that they may as well throw a concert. I am not too sure if this reason is as good as photographic evidence of doggy abuse. Besides, if they want R&R, shouldn't they be trying to avoid media and fan attention instead of making themselves the focus of attention in their holiday destination? Something really doesn't add up here.

I'm also not sure about that band member called Sin Cannon. That name sounds more appropriate for the title of a softporn film than a member of this hard rock group, especially considering the sensibilities of a typical hard rock fan.

Thankfully, our hero is the band member with a less guffaw-inducing name, Ben Hawkins. He's the lead guitarist. Like the other members of Darkfever, he hails from Tyler, the Podunk town mentioned earlier, and going back to that place is not something he is happy to do since that place holds all the Anguished Memories of A Very Sad Childhood. Of course, that place also holds the obligatory smalltown wholesome first girlfriend who will be there to heal him after he's had shags with a zillion slutty groupies.

This heroine is Marah Spencer, the woman he'd ditched when he was in his emo phase. Apart from a brief period of time when she needed a change of scenery after Ben ditched her, she's spent all her life in town since Ben left her when she was eighteen. Over the years, she had become a journalist and is currently working for her father while trying to get her doctorate in psychology. She has realized only recently that she has been doing nothing but emulating her parents all this while (her father is the journalist while her mother is the psychologist). She is thinking of moving to Dallas once she obtains her doctorate so that she can do something for herself.

Then Darkfever comes to Tyler and Marah finds herself on an assignment to cover the concert and to interview the band members. She's at first reluctant to meet him. After all, Tyler slept with her and then pretty much told her that she was too good for him and she should never sell herself short when it comes to guys. Of course, one would think that he'd have the courtesy to tell her this before he did what he did to her, but that's emo angst-ridden little boys for you. It's all about them.

But the moment these two meet again, we have only some 25 pages or so before the story ends so these two hop into bed with unrealistic quickness, with the author using the convenient excuse of Marah wanting to get Ben out of her system to ensure that there is enough sex to make readers out there happy. Ben then reveals some melodramatic reason about why he had to leave her, they both cry, and it's love.

How nice for them.

Avert your eyes, genteel readers, because now I'm really taking my gloves off, so to speak. Personally, I'm taken aback by how the author has Ben having unprotected sex with a random groupie early in the story only to have Ben reassuring Marah right before they have sex that he is free from STD. How does he know? Even better, just because he says he is free from STD, Marah actually stops him from using a condom, saying that he is safe with her. Uh, hello? Rock star? Groupies? Drugs? And this woman has a degree from some university?

I am seriously tempted to give this book a negative score just because the author is so stupid as to bring up STDs in the first place only to put in a bizarre and completely wrong, wrong, wrong message about safe sex. Yes, I used the word "stupid". I'm sure there will be furious emails coming my way for this, but it is really stupid of Ms Davis to pull this stunt on me. If she didn't bring up the STD issue in the first place, she can still cover her behind by saying that this story is fiction and therefore she'd like to pretend that STDs don't exist in her story. But since she does what she does here, should there be a romance genre competition to win some equivalent to the Darwin Awards out there, this author is going to be a shoo-in for the finals. That is, if the other competitors, shamed by how they can't measure up to Ms Davis when it comes to botching up a story so badly, didn't bow out from the competition and submit a petition to the judges to give Ms Davis the prize right away.

Ms Davis, I'm sure we are all educated and intelligent adults here. Accurate information about safe sex can be found easily on the Web as well as from the local library. Heck, just ask the family doctor the next time you happen to drop by for a visit. So why are you trying to convince your readers that you are a complete dunce when it comes to information about safe sex?

Still, I have to be fair. The rest of the story is an uninspired rehash of a familiar story complete with the characters jumping straight into bed without any decent build-up, which makes this a very average and forgettable short story. But it's still readable in a painless way... until I come to that unforgivably stupid sex scene, that is. So, instead of giving this book a -15,000 like I am seriously tempted to because I am so petty and unforgiving that way, I'll be somewhat fair and give this book a score of 01 instead. Any higher a score and I will feel as if I am betraying everything that is good about modern medicine, science, and the very foundations of human civilization, which will give me a bigger headache than the one this book has already given me. We don't want that now, do we?

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