Review: Hell Without You by Ranae Rose ★★★

18349618Hell Without You by Ranae Rose
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: n/a
Publication Date: September 5th 2013
ISBN: 9781492165590
Page Count: 222
Rating: ★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Synopsis: Time changes everything, except what’s meant to be.

Seven years is a long time – long enough to transform Clementine from a small-town teenager with a broken heart into a woman ready to take on the world, but not long enough to make her forget about the man she was never supposed to see again. A temporary return to tiny Willow Heights thrusts her back into Donovan’s life and home, unearthing heartbreak and obsession that have stood the test of time.

He left seven years ago too, for war and other things Clementine can only imagine. Coming back to the town where he grew up in the shadow of poverty and drug addiction makes no sense, and neither do Clementine’s feelings for him. He could never forgive her for leaving, could he? Even if she had no choice.

Now, she has the freedom to choose … and so does he. Every day in Willow Heights makes it clearer: all he ever really wanted was her, and nothing will change that. Not even a taste of the hell that drove them apart in the first place.

REVIEW

With or Without You

I thought HELL WITHOUT YOU started out really strongly. I was extremely receptive to the premise and the first meet scene - or re-acquaintance scene? - was really good! Lots of tension right off the bat, which is impressive for two characters I don't really know yet. The one that got away is a trope always fraught with high tension and emotions just waiting to boil over, and Ranae captured them really well.

I also thought the issues Donovan was dealing with after his time in the military were compelling.

And while we're at it, the sex scenes were bang tidy, and the flashback scenes were really cute.

Now that's about it for what I liked, and, sadly, I do have a rather large list of things I didn't like which only really came into play in the second half, where I found the book really seemed to lose its way. And that's why it's only a 3-star rating.

First of all, there was a murder mystery that was handled in such a bizarre and ineffectual way. It could have been something interesting, but it had its legs cut out from under it prematurely and then just fizzled into nothingness.

Then there was Clementine, who began as quite a feisty character, but seemed to morph into a bit of a lovelorn drip in the second half. It wasn't a good look for her.

And lastly Donovan. Let's be frank, he sounds totally lickable, and started off rather sweet too. But then he had to go and spoil things by doing all those butthurt moves like deliberately burning himself to "get his anger out". Let's call it the Travis Maddox method of anger management - and I happened to like that book so that's not a criticism in itself - but if you're going to write a character with cray cray tendencies like that, you need to at least commit and write it convincingly, instead of just peppering the book with random odd behaviour in an attempt to make your hero seem tormented. I'd already accepted he was legitimately tormented about the things he'd seen in service, but that was undermined by him doing these other things just because he was having a difficult conversation with his woman. It didn't work for me.

So, a bit of a mixed bag as you can see, but not a totally lost cause. I really did like the first half, so if you don't think the other things will bother you as much as they did me, give it a try!

3 Stars ★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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