Evernight Publishing, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-3695-0129-5
Romantic Suspense, 2020
The hero, simply known as Preacher, cuts off the tongue of a man who has betrayed his Twisted Monsters MC – wait, what kind of tattooed, rugged macho men would call their motorcycle club something that can be mistaken for a Lady Gaga fan club? – and it’s kind of cool, actually. Then the author reveals that this rat also beats his wife and kids, no doubt to convince me that Preacher isn’t really that bad, and I sigh. Why can’t my sexy evil men be allowed to be full blown evil and sexy again?
That’s one of my issues with To Awaken a Monster: the author has Preacher killing and torturing people, but these people conveniently are all really bad people. It’s a cop out, if you ask me. Am I to believe that someone like Preacher, president of something is basically white trash gangbangers on bikes, has the luxury of choosing the types of people to be his target?
Still, the story is gloriously trashy. Preacher ends up impregnating his son’s sort-of girlfriend after she is drugged by a jealous groupie and placed in our hero’s bed. This necessitates his son marrying Robin, to avoid having our hero thrown into jail for statutory rape – she is seventeen when her oven gets bun’ed up, and of course this son is trash, and the only pee-pee that deserves to be lodged into Robin’s innocent, pure, sweet womanly woo-hoo is Preacher’s.
Throughout it all, we have all kinds of skanky antics galore. People gets killed, tortured, cussed at, and what not. Because this is an MC romance, we are all gathered here today to watch as the men in this story call women all kinds of synonyms for prostitutes, and Robin is put on a pedestal because she is a virgin until the right penis penetrates her – that’s the only, it seems, to avoid being called a whore in this story.
That’s the other issue I have with this story. There are lowlifes galore here, but guess the sex that is the frequent target for the main characters’ vitriol. That’s right, the women. I know, we romance readers are all fat and sexually frustrated, so we love nothing more that to read about skinny and beautiful women being treated like diseased prostitutes by the men we lust after, and I also know that female characters have no sequel value, thus they are all disposable at the end of the day. But come on – the misogyny gets super boring and repetitive after a while. How about some variety? Let’s see some guy get degraded and humiliated for once. Why must it always be women? In fact, since we are living in modern times, let’s be democratic and have a crippled fellow get the same treatment too! Let’s dump on everyone!
Another issue I have with this story is the disappointing lack of skanky sex to push this story over the threshold into glorious, trashy guilty pleasure. The few short scenes here are pretty dull in that it’s always some skank being treated like dirt by the men I am supposed to be lusting after. I’d love to read more about, say, Preacher sneaking around and slipping the assault rifle into his son’s wife more often, for example, or something fun. Where’s the joyous kind of sleaze? Sex here is portrayed as degrading or unpleasant most of the time, when this is marketed as a romance.
As for the main characters, Robin has only a few facets to her one-dimensional personality: passive haplessness, innocent and virginal, and wanting nothing more to be a mother as well as some guy’s true love body pillow. She has very little else to her. Preacher is just angry, violent, and that’s basically it. The son is a plot contrivance, designed to create trouble when the situation needs some without any regard as to whether his behavior makes sense or not.
Then again, a story like this one can get away with poorly drawn characters if the sleaze had been glorious and enjoyable. Thing is, while there is no shortage of sleaze, it’s the wrong kind for a romance. It’s all about female-bashing, torture, and murder – which I’m fine with had this been some kind of crime fiction. This is supposed to be a romance, though, and frankly, it’s sorely lacking in the romance and fun sleazy sex quota. I’m not getting what I am hoping for here, that’s for sure.