Title: Question Mark (Liasions #2)
Author: SE Culpepper
Cover Artist: Unknown
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Length: 345 pages
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Lasha
Summary Review: Sequel to Private Eye, while entertaining just didn’t grip my attention as much as the first book.
Coming back from being well and truly dumped is a struggle for the average guy. For Mark Newland, it’s much, much worse. With a long string of broken relationships behind him, Mark is confronted with a choice: grow up and fix the man he’s become, or continue on his lonely and bitter path. With reinvention in mind, Mark heads for a vacation in Bora Bora, hoping it will bring him closer to what he wants. He simply never figured it would be in the form of Hollywood’s most eligible gay bachelor, Zane Whitlow.
If Zane is suspicious of romance, he blames it entirely on his career. Never totally sure that men he’s been with wanted him over a taste of his fame, he errs on the side of caution when it comes to love. Until he meets Mark Newland, that is. Only hours into his vacation and for reasons he can’t understand himself, Zane abandons his usual safe approach in favor of pursuit. But Zane’s not the only one who thinks Mark might be the perfect guy…
With attraction, fear, and insecurity warring within Mark, will he have the strength to believe he deserves lasting love, or will his old ways come back to haunt him?
I reviewed the first book in this series, Private Eye here and gave it 4.5 stars.
Question Mark takes place directly after that book and focused on Rafe’s ex-boyfriend, Mark, who I thought couldn’t be redeemed after his shenanigans in that installment. Deciding he needs to change his life, Mark goes on holiday in Bora Bora and runs into a famous Hollywood movie star, Zane Whitlow. The two are instantly attracted, but before they can act on that, Zane has to fly back to Los Angeles for business. They keep in touch and begin a long-distance relationship in the spotlight. But has Mark really changed his ways? Can he remain faithful to Zane while he’s on location in England or accept that his life is not his own now as the press stalks his every move.
I think it’s tough for any author to write a character with huge character flaws, then try and change readers perceptions of him. Personally, I thought Mark was a tool in Private Eye, and hoped he’d crash and burn in Question Mark; but thanks to Ms. Culpepper’s writing skill, I was finally won over to Team Mark. Yeah, he can be a total a-hole, but once he owns up to that, I found I liked him a whole lot more. Add in his relationship with Zane, the Hollywood superstar who comes from humble means, and you have the makings of a great, realistic love story with characters who are not perfect, but real people.
Other pluses were Mark’s delightful and fall down funny family. I was hoping his brother Reid was gay, but oh well…you can’t have everything. And the addition of Kevin, a military-type who had a one night stand with the ever repressed Christian (a secondary character who Mark befriended in Bora Bora and later tries to break up Zane and Mark) and I see another book in the making. (Although at this point I am not sure Ms. Culpepper can make me like Christian, but you never know, I didn’t think I could warm up to Mark…so we will see.)
My real niggle with this book and why I did not rate it higher was some issues I had with Point-of-View changes which I felt distracted the reader away from the central tale of Zane and Mark. I counted at least four/five different POV shifts in the novel, and while some readers may not have a problem with that, I found the head-hopping to be limiting.
Question Mark is a nice addition to the Liaisons series, bringing back Rafe and Jeremy to see how they are doing and introducing some new faces. While I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first, I still am interested in the overall universe and look forward to the third installment.