Author: K.C. Burn
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 287 Pages
At a Glance: A too-light hand in its treatment of conflict and characterization left me wishing for more.
Reviewed By: Rena
Blurb: Sandy Bottom Bay, Florida – Come for the Haunts, Stay for the Beaches!
Drew Drummond might call himself a psychic tarot reader, but he doesnt believe in the supernatural. The business was left to him by his grandmother, and seemed the best way to rise above the chronic criminal behavior of the Drummond family. Despite his efforts, few of the townspeople consider him a good romantic match. Being gay only makes finding love more difficult.
When Cliff Garcia, Drews teenaged crush, moves back to town and joins the police force, Drew doesnt think he has a chance. After all, the skeptical cop considers Drews profession on par with professional con man, and Cliff had spent his entire school career feuding with Drews volatile brothers. Despite the obstacles, Drew and Cliff begin a fiery relationship.
Just when Drew starts to believe they might have a chance, he suffers a head injury and begins having visions of the future. If Drew tells Cliff the truth, hell lose the man hes falling for, but keeping his new ability a secret is no longer an option. If he cant convince Cliff hes for real, a murderer will walk free.
Review: North on Drummond is chock-full of potential as a paranormal, suspense-filled novel with a generous helping of romance on the side. Considering the setting – Sandy Bottom Bay – a town known for its terrible past and the possibility of lots of juicy hauntings, the environment offers us a tantalizing backdrop for mysteries and even a mixed bag of otherworldly and faux-paranormal happenings. Add to that a colorful cast of characters from wildly differing backgrounds, along with the encroaching of more insidious elements from Hollywood, and we’ve got a recipe for a great, absorbing read.
The problem, however, is that the plot ends up rather disjointed, and the characters – save for perhaps Drew – stay firmly in their two-dimensional molds.
I was really hoping to see the setting develop beyond being a mere backdrop. Given the extent to which Sandy Bottom Bay has shaped Cliff’s past and his subsequent desire to run the hell away from the place the first chance he got, I’d at first expected a more thorough weaving of the environment, his past, and his present in order to provide us a good understanding of his personality. His history, as he regards it, is pretty traumatic for him with his parents’ divorce and his belief of his mother’s indifference. Her apparent gullibility when it comes to all things supernatural is also a pretty big issue for Cliff, who’s developed an antipathy toward other people’s beliefs that’s extreme to the point of being judgmental and even condescending. And that’s pretty much the reason why I started off cool toward Cliff, and ended the book disliking him a lot.
There’s so much attention placed on the romance and the sex scenes that the plot simply falls to the wayside. Cliff, especially, could’ve been a complex character and, in fact, starts the book with a promise of good development that would’ve helped me sympathize with him and accept his flaws. Unfortunately we don’t go beyond knowing basic facts about him, and the only reason we do is because we’re told that, not shown it. Cliff doesn’t really interact with his mother, save for two brief scenes, and there’s not much going on in those.
The same goes with the way complications are handled. By and large, they promise us an absorbing read, but the manner in which they unfold and are sorted out is surprisingly light. The lovers’ quarrel, for instance, blows up and then is fixed within a handful of hours, and even then, the cause of the quarrel stands on shaky ground (see: Cliff’s characterization), and the resolution doesn’t even absolve Cliff because he doesn’t arrive at understanding through his own efforts. Instead, someone else gives him what for, and that’s it. There’s a frequent defaulting to misunderstanding and lack of communication as sources of romantic angst. Even the murder mystery’s resolution happens off-screen. The problem with this light and almost dismissive treatment of different conflicts is that every subplot is interconnected, and if one gets glossed over, the rest don’t hold up to scrutiny as well as they should – like a domino effect.
Some of the side characters also suffer from a lack of development, even if only a smidge. Brett’s a one-dimensional jerk through and through, and Cliff’s mom, who sounds like a fantastic foil to Cliff, also remains a benevolent shadow in the background. Rob and Wyatt, at least, give us something a little more, but Scott doesn’t, even as an awesome straight buddy. Again, considering the roles these side characters play in Cliff’s life, it was a disappointment seeing them painted with very, very light brushstrokes.
Drew, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer as much along the same lines. He’s written in a more sympathetic light, and his doubts and fears, in tandem with his remarkable background as a Drummond, allow him more layers than what we see in Cliff.
So as much as I’d have loved to have gotten really swept up by this book, things didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped. As it is, a too-light hand in its treatment of conflict and characterization left me wishing for more.
You can buy North on Drummond here: