Berkley, $15.00, ISBN 978-1-101-98769-8
Contemporary Romance, 2016
In case you haven’t heard, Kim Jones’s Sinner’s Creed does not have a conventional happy ending. Yes, the hero Dirk and the heroine Saylor Samson – no jokes about her loving her seamen, please, we’re not that kind of people – do end up together, but… there’s a big but. They both die. She dies of brain cancer, and he dies at the hands of the enemy. But hey, they end up in some afterlife together, thus it’s all so My Heart Will Go On, ooh. Whatever, that’s not my issue with this story, actually.
And I will leave the argument as to why this book is marketed as a romance novel to more qualified professionals. My personal theory is that the author has already sold craploads of Kindle downloads when she DIY’ed her previous books, so the publisher, the author, and the author’s friends who clamor to give this book glowing blurbs all know that it doesn’t matter whether this book is shelved under Romance or Guano Discourse – her fans will still buy it no matter what, and then post animated GIFs of Jensen Ackles looking lecherous and photos of random male models they believe resemble the hero on the Goodreads page of this book. But that’s my theory and it’s probably bunk anyway, and besides, I’d like to finish this review before I pass out from the effort.
“What, you know there is an awful ending but you still read this book?” you may be asking. You see, I’ve read that the hero is a vicious killer, and the whole Motorcycles Club theme is basically the new adult genre version of Gor, so I am curious about the whole thing. Besides, I always have a thing for crazy stories with really evil main characters, and it’s been a while since I’ve read such a book. So, I am hoping that Sinner’s Creed will deliver something really dark and delicious, conventional happy ending or no.
Unfortunately, after stabbing one hapless sod in the face fifty times, Dirk spends the bulk of the time insisting that he’s a bad guy who deserves all the crap in life due to his sins.
Hell is my home and Satan is this man, the only father I know. And if evil is he, then evil am I. I don’t need his pride. I don’t need his love. He wanted a monster; he got one. I am the spawn of Satan. I am the son of Lucifer. I am Sinner’s Creed.
And these? My fingers, these are MAGIC FINGERS, and my middle finger, its name is Shut the Hell Up because honey, my eyes can’t roll back up my head far enough to accommodate the author’s writing style.
He meets Saylor while she is singing at some pub and he is immediately taken by her innocence. Seriously, that section of the story is called INNOCENCE. Bold and with a full stop, because nothing is subtle here. UNTOUCHED HONEYPOT IS GOD. SON OF SATAN IS THIRSTY. WANTS HONEY, HE BE, BECAUSE HIS NAME IS SINNER’S CREED.
So he stalks Saylor, and when he finally meets her, he all but thrusts his bastard penis of Satan’s monster at her face, because that’s how your generic new adult romance hero behaves when faced with INNOCENCE. There is SEXINESS. (Yes, that’s another section header, and don’t forget the bolding and the full stop.) MUSIC. PROTECTIVENESS. SYPHILIS.
Saylor is, of course, innocent but wounded. When she is first sexually harassed by Dirk – that’s “courtship” in new adult romance-speak – she immediately spews this:
“I’m not scared of you, Dirk. Even if there was something left in this life that could scare me, it wouldn’t be you. You’ve always been my savior. You may not know it, but you always show up just when I need you most. You’re like my angel. And right now, I need you.”
Who speaks like this in real life?
But this is how the author writes this story. Everything is florid, purple, turgid, ridiculous, PAINFUL. Her characters all speak as if they are reading aloud Tumblr posts of emo teens. The author’s narrative is like… I don’t know, an earnest entry into some “Write your worst, come on, we dare you!” kind of literary contest, because Sinner’s Creed is just shocking in how artificial the entire thing is. This story is drowning in cheese, and yet, there is no hint of self-aware humor to make the whole thing palatable. The author seems to be really serious, laboring under the belief that she is writing the epic tearjerker of the century, when in truth, she makes Nicholas Sparks look like Ernest Hemingway.
The tragedy is that, if this story had been executed in a manner that does not resemble the overwrought doodling of an intoxicated 15-year old, I may actually love this one. Okay, the heroine is as dumb as expected, but I suppose we can explain that away with her medical condition. Anyway, she dies without spawning, so all is forgiven. But there is something very captivating and even breathtaking about Dirk’s willingness to move mountains for her. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a sucker for bloodthirsty crazies who could treat the people they love with kid gloves, even willingly sacrificing themselves if they think this will make their beloved happy. The author somewhat captures that vibe with Dirk – somewhat, that is, because the whole INNOCENCE. MY FATHER IS SATAN. I BE HORNY, I AM SINNER’S CREED nonsense makes me cringe in second-hand embarrassment for everyone involved in the production of this book. Yes, even the poor sweatshop worker that presses the switch on the printing press should be ashamed, because this story is beyond atrocious. It’s probably a bit above Cassie Edwards‘s level of literary butchery, but that’s “a bit” as in fifteen milimetres or maybe twenty.
And to add insult to the injury, the author has captured the perfect note for the perfect ending in the final chapter. And then she ruins it with a pointless epilogue that only serves to sell the upcoming book. This only tells me that the author has a cracked radar when it comes to her sense of pacing, timing, momentum building – everything – and I only hope her best friends that gave her all those glowing blurbs for this book would buy her a how-to-write book or something as a Christmas gift later this year. Then again, she’s laughing all the way to the bank, while I am fifteen bucks poorer, so perhaps the joke is on me. Sigh.