And is Never Shaken

Title: And is Never Shaken
Author: Alexi Silversmith
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 89 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
A well written May to December romance with a very likeable hero but which had the romance moving a little quickly for my taste.

THE BLURB

Cassian Ford is a successful writer in his forties, established at the local university. Andy Havers is a book restorer in his early twenties who just moved to town. They have nothing in common, and yet somehow everywhere they go, they seem to run into each other. Despite a bumpy beginning—an exasperated Cassian accuses Andy of being a stalker—the gap in age, and their many other differences, a passionate romance develops between them. But just when Andy is convinced he’s found true love, secrets from Cassian’s past erupt into the present, and Andy realizes it might not be him Cassian wants at all….

THE REVIEW

This novella beings with a heart wrenching scene. Cassian is sitting in a coffee shop when he spots a familiar face walking by. He immediately chases after the man, catches up with him and hugs him tightly. It doesn’t take Cassian long to realise he’s made an error and he turns away from the man, embarrassed with his actions. Andy has just moved into the city and found an apartment. He decides to sign up for a creative writing class as a way to meet new people and is surprised to discover that his teacher is no other than the man who accosted him in the street a few weeks ago. He’s even more surprised to find out that Cassian is his neighbour, leading to misunderstandings followed by a whirlwind romance.

The strength of this book lies in the character of Andy, whose point of view we get for almost all of the book, except for that first chapter. He’s one of those eminently likeable people: personable, polite, intelligent, confident and, in many ways, quite old for his years. He’s secure in his homosexuality, has an eclectic, if old fashioned, taste in music and isn’t afraid to ask for help from friends when necessary. I liked him a great deal. I also liked Andy’s friend Patrick who almost stole the entire book in a very short scene. I’m hoping he gets his own story.

I also really liked the writing, especially some of the minor incidental details such as Andy’s “Best Son” mug which told a whole wealth of information about Andy in a short phrase. The descriptions of Andy’s life, his contentment with the way he’s at the start of a new path and the love he feels for his hard won independence all shone through in the vivid writing and the characterisation.  The story itself surprised me in that I was convinced it was going to turn out one way, but the end was different to how I imagined, which can only be good in my opinion.

The parts that didn’t work as well were to do with the romance between Cassian and Andy.  Instead of a steady build up of respect and attraction the author relies heavily on tired clichés such as instant inappropriate arousal or that the slightest touch shoots off sparks of attraction.  Their relationship moves on very quickly into emotional intensity, a little too quickly for me.  The two men have a lot in common, which strengthened the idea of a connection between them, but there are also great differences between them that could have been explored more effectively to make the relationship have a realistic chance of working.  The story actually takes place over six weeks, but most of that time is spent ‘off page’ so we are only told of how the relationship develops rather than seeing it for ourselves.  Later in the story there is a ‘sudden crisis’ which again seemed a bit of a easy way to resolve some of the problems the pair were having at the time.

Despite these problems, I felt that the strength of the prose and the character of Andy lifted this story, hence my grade of 4 stars.  If you are looking for a short read and don’t mind reading about a fast moving relationship, then this book could be for you.

12 comments

  • Hi Jenre! Thanks for this review – what a nice way to start my Sunday. I’m taking all the criticisms on board because as Wave points out, I’ve never written sex scenes before, and I’ve never written in a short format before either. I’m definitely still learning.

    Reply
  • I’ve had my eye on this one. Something about the cover draws me. I also like well-done May/December romances. Great review, Jenre.

    Reply
    • Hi Eden
      I’m a sucker for a May to December romance too. I liked that this part of the book is addressed but not agonised over, as some m-d books can sometimes do.

      Reply
  • Jen
    Great review. I’ve only skimmed the beginning of this book but I do intend to finish it because I want to see how Alexi makes the transition from writing YA fantasies with minimal sex (if any) to erotic M/M romances. 🙂

    >>I felt that the strength of the prose and the character of Andy lifted this story< < What impresses me about Alexi is her prose and I hope that some of this comes through in And is Never Shaken. One of the problems of this short format is that the characters never get a chance to develop before it's time for the obligatory HEA - many times I wish that authors would opt for an HFN ending, which is much more believable. However I haven't read the book and as LadyM said, "there's only so much action you can pack into 89 pages".

    Reply
    • Hi Wave
      I think you are right. It was the length of the book which meant that some of the romance was a little rushed. There was a lot of plot packed into the short format which is why so much of it has to happen off page.

      Reply
  • I must admit I didn’t like that first scene as I thought it was rather too over-the-top, and I do so hate rampant emotionalism, and have never yet been able to move beyond it … It’s still lurking somewhere on my computer though, so you never know! 🙂

    Axxx

    Reply
    • Hi Anne
      That’s a shame because the rest of the book isn’t as overwrought with emotion. In fact Andy is quite a calm person when compared to Cassian.

      Reply
  • I currently read a very, very long series, but since I won the book here, I decided to make a short break and read Alexi’s story. I liked it, it was simple, which is a good thing in my book. The first scene was really heartbreaking and, sort of, colored the rest of the story for me. I agree the relationship developed quickly, but there is only so much action you can pack in 89 pages. I liked the writing style and I’ll certainly pick up other Alexi’s stories. ^^

    Reply

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