Beyond Complicated


Title: Beyond Complicated
Author: Mercy Celeste
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M/M
Length: Novel (375 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by jeayci

Review Summary: Beyond Complicated is the perfect title for this book, as that’s exactly what it was. It was incredibly hot and sexy; it pulled me in and made me care about the characters; and it had several major WTF?! moments so extreme they could have ruined the story. This is an excellent example of a good book that could have been a great one, with better editing.

Blurb: Liam McGuire has the perfect life–his job is a nightmare, his apartment was swank back in the eighties, and he has a secret so painful it could destroy him. What can top that? Meeting his son’s new boyfriend, that’s what.

For former porn star Liam McGuire, life is pretty tame, except that his twenty-one year old son is now dating the love of Liam’s life. At the ripe old age of thirty-eight, Liam’s entire world is collapsing around him, his past catching up with him, his secrets and his lies are coming back to bite him. All because Kel had to go and fall in love with Seth.

CONTENT ADVISORY: This title contains incestuous subject matter.

Review: I usually avoid spoilers, yet here I am two reviews in a row! The spoilers for this review are more significant than those for Heartstrings (reviewed here), but not only is it difficult to discuss this book in any meaningful way without them, there are a couple of things that have the potential to trigger readers. The blurb reveals so little, and so much of what makes things work (or not work) are predicated on pivotal events that would definitely be spoilery to reveal. There are several twists that surprised me, even after I thought I had figured things out. I’ll avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I’m going to share the two that I think are the most potentially triggering so you can make an informed decision whether or not you want to read it.

The first of those is the question of incest, with Kel supposedly Liam’s son. It was revealed very early on that Kel couldn’t be Liam’s biological son; not if you have the most basic understanding of genetics. So whether you consider it a positive or negative, be aware that this is pseudo-incest rather than real incest. However, the fact that Liam believed Kel to be his son made it a little difficult for me to respect Liam’s intelligence. We were later offered some explanation for why he believed it, and some of that could qualify as extenuating circumstances, but I still thought he had to be pretty obtuse not to have figured out the truth a whole lot sooner.

The second spoiler, one I’m surprised wasn’t included in the publisher’s warnings, is that there is a past rape. It doesn’t take place in real-time, but there are enough memories of it that it’s definitely part of the story. That rape, and the various actions and emotions around it, was the root of quite a few of my WTF?! moments. Although we are shown how devastating the rape was, I thought the first sex following it was unrealistically easy-peasy, even if it did occur years later and after some therapy. It just wasn’t believable to me that the first sex would just happen, with the rape an after-thought later of the “hey, I had sex yesterday without ever even thinking about the rape” variety.

I don’t want to reveal any more spoilers than necessary, so I’ll just say that there were several logistics around the rape that simply did not add up for me. At all. In fact, they pretty much flummoxed me. Actions (or inactions) that led up to it which I found absurd. Things during it that struck me as bizarre. And actions and assumptions afterward that seemed ridiculous.

There are other plot inconsistencies, like Liam saying he hadn’t had sex without a condom since he was sixteen despite having told us that he and Seth had barebacked during the six years they were together. I also found their present-day attitude toward condom use (or lack thereof) surprisingly cavalier for men who really ought to have known better. Unless I was supposed to interpret that as self-destructive behavior which provided insight into the characters, rather than sheer stupidity or thoughtlessness?

Anyone who is sensitive to cheating in books will probably be disturbed by a few combinations of twosomes that occur among the threesome. There are a couple of situations that edge uncomfortably close to two cheating on the third. It all turns out fine in the end, but if that’s something that bothers you in general, you’ll probably be disturbed by it here.

The end is a HFN, and I want a sequel to get a real HEA. Because although they are HFN, I’m not convinced how lasting that happiness will be. I’d really like to see them resolve some of the complications to help me better believe their happiness will actually last.

You may be wondering why I rated it as highly as I did, considering all the negatives I just detailed. The thing is, despite all those gripes I was really engaged and invested in the characters and the story, and I loved it anyway. Liam and Kel, Kel and Seth, Seth and Liam, and Liam and Seth and Kel all really worked together. They complemented each other, and clearly loved each other, and it felt like it made sense for them to be together. I cared about them, I rooted for them, I occasionally wanted to smack them upside the head. For as implausible as I found some of the core plot points, the characters themselves were very believable.

My emotional reaction immediately upon finishing it was to rate it highly, even as the more rational part of my brain said, “Really? Even with this, that, and the other thing?” With better editing to address those issues, this could easily have been a 5-star book. Because those issues were there, and annoyed me, I compromised on 3.5 stars.

9 comments

  • Thanks so much. I totally hear you and truly even when the spoilers are very secondary, I would rather put the tag than not. I am a wierd reader who often seeks out spoilers, but try to avoid it as much as possible myself in my reviews. But yeah, sometimes there is no way to escape them completely, especially when spoilerish issue is the one than bugged you. Funny, my next review will also have spoilers, so yeah almost two in a row for me as well – does not happen too often. Off to read your email. Thanks again.

  • jeayci, I know I sound like a parrot, but I love your reviews – I really really do. I love the depth you go into when you analyze the book. Having said that, I really do need some more spoilers, pretty please? Like was the rape between any of the guys and was Liam really that stupid and why? Do you mind emailing me privately please? Please?

    • Sirius, I don’t think you sound like a parrot when you say that, I think you sound utterly delightful! :blush: :happydance: Thank you! 😀

      I’ll email you privately to answer your questions. Unless there’s some way to add a spoiler tag in the comments here like on GR? I don’t want to spoiler anyone who doesn’t want it, but I’m happy to share as much as you (or anyone else) wants to know. 🙂

  • I absolutely LOVED this book! I bought it when it came out and I’ve read it twice. Angsty, yes. But I love the HEA. Every bit of angst needs a HEA, right?

    • I’m glad you loved it, and I agree getting a HEA after angst is VERY satisfying! 🙂 I loved it, too, it’s just there were a few things that really bugged me, as I tried to explain in the review without being any more spoilery than necessary. :2thumbs: And I saw it as more of a HFN, with a sequel needed to be true HEA. But I’m glad it worked for you! 😀

  • This does seem like it hovers close to some of my triggers for throwing a book across the room (a smart guy with no understanding of basic biology, and any short shrift given to the longterm effects of trauma being high on the list.) I guess it’s a maybe for me.

    • Yeah, this book is a tough call. I loved the characters and became so invested in them that I really loved the book despite some glaring flaws. But in some ways that made the flaws tick me off all the more, because this had the potential to be a 5-star book if only…

      Like I said, there were some extenuating circumstances that almost helped me believe Liam could be intelligent and still not have figured out Kel couldn’t be his. Almost. And there were definitely long-term effects to the trauma, and much of that was done well, it just wasn’t… consistent, I guess.

      The book pulled me in enough that I mostly didn’t think too much about it at the time, so I read through and finished it with just a few WTF moments and an overall feeling of having just finished a great book. But then the more I thought about it after, the more things bothered me. If you do end up reading it, I’d love to know what you think! 😀

  • It is amazing how great characters can get me to forgive almost anything……….I’ll check the extract for this. Thanks. 😀

    • Yeah, great characters do that for me, too! 😀 If you end up reading the book, I’d love to know what you think of it! 🙂

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