Want Me

wantmeTitle: Want Me
Author: Rowan McBride
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
Amazon: Buy Link Want Me
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal
Length: Novel
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by ZenHarley

Review Summary: Darker-than-expected tale of a cursed bloodline, and the cost of redemption.

Blurb:

Joel Beckett is blessed. He’s popular with the ladies, a star on the football field, and worshiped by everyone on campus.

Including Walker Cain.

Only Walker’s worship has crossed the line, driving him to invoke ancient magic that binds them together in an inescapable downward spiral. Now reality is shifting, and with each new life Joel is forced to watch Walker steal away another of the blessings he’d always taken for granted.

It’s never enough. Cursed blood runs hot, and with every turn of the spiral, Walker breathes the seductive words that Joel can’t resist. The words that could drag them both into hell.

Want me.

Note:This book was previously released by another publisher. It has been revised and reedited since that publication.

Review:

Walker Cain is the many-times-removed descendant of the original Cain – as in, Cain and Abel.  All who carry the original Cain’s bloodline are cursed to live in unhappiness because of the first Cain’s transgression; however, they have a potential ticket out – God has granted them certain magical abilities, the most important of which is the ability to cast one ‘big’ spell in their lifetime in order to attempt redemption.  Walker is no exception to the Cain curse.  He’s short, lonely, unpopular, and unrequitedly crushing on his straight new college roommate, Joel.

Joel is the jock’s jock; the big man on campus (literally, he’s six-six), the star football player, total ladies’ man, and about as self-absorbed as a guy can be and still remain functional.

“Loved being big.  That was the one thing I never got bored of – how everyone, even professors, even coaches, had to look up to me.  How even my best friends were a little uneasy standing next to my bulk.  How women, now matter how eager, always had second thoughts when they saw the python I was packing in my pants.”

He’s clueless, but not a bad guy down deep. He thinks Walker is a harmless-enough geek, and unlike some of his teammates, doesn’t mind that Walker is gay. Walker, however, has plans for Joel – he’s decided to use his one big spell to make Joel want him, to be permanently tied to him both sexually and emotionally.

Describing exactly how Walker’s spell affects the both of them would be too spoilerish, but suffice it to say that – despite significant side-effects – it succeeds in causing Joel to feel uncontrollable sexual attraction to Walker.

Up until the spell kicked in, this read like the setup for a light GFY romance, a comedy of miss-matched lovers, a la A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  But this story went way, way darker.  Joel basically becomes Walker’s unwilling sex slave, controlled by the spell.  When the spell would weaken, he’d try to break free, increasingly frantic to escape this spiral of sexual control, but Walker would renew the spell and things just got worse.

When the cycles of spell-casting, physical and emotional changes, and sexual need come to a head, the issue of Walker’s potential redemption in the eyes of God takes center stage, and then things get really strange.

Prior to the book’s original release in 2008, the author added an epilogue at the strong encouragement of her beta readers. For this new release, she’s included an alternate epilogue for those who didn’t like the first one.  I’m happy she did, because it was only the second epilogue that allowed me to walk away from the book with anything approaching positive feelings.

It just never seemed plausible to me that Joel could go through the things he did at Walker’s hand and come out of it with romantic feelings toward Walker. An explanation is given in the text, and others may feel differently, but the turnaround just never worked for me.  Walker, to be honest, just creeped me out from the start.  One of the secondary characters, April — a more-than-she-seems Hello Kitty aficionado —  was lovingly drawn and sparkled on the page.

At the page level, the writing was excellent, and I didn’t immediately notice any editing problems.

Overall, this was really a mixed bag for me.  The story was told well, it was intense, hard to put down, the narration was engaging, and there was a more-or-less HEA.  If you can get beyond the idea of a magically forced sexual relationship, and especially if the themes of sin, possible damnation, and redemption are of interest to you, this could be an enjoyable read.  If you’re looking for a light college-boy fluff romance, this is not it.

Cautiously recommended.

Peace,
Zen

7 comments

  • Hmmm I heard some good things and some bad when this book was released, but a friend pointed out that it read like a romances where the main character falls in love with his rapist, so I never picked it up. It does sound intriguing, but I think I’ll pass on this one.

    Thanks for the insightful review!

  • I wish Rowan McBride would release more books of this caliber… She is a crafty author that excel in writing romance with darker shades that was also engaging to read. I haven’t fully read this one yet. But the poem that was the ending was chillingly good.

  • Hi Zen

    I read this book when it was first released and, despite my feelings about rape or non con, I liked it a lot, certainly more than you did because I love Rowan McBride’s books although I did have a few issues with the story. She has written a couple of books with similar themes and one of her books that I absolutely love is Paul’s Dream.

    Very good review. 😀

    • Hi Wave,
      Thanks; I’m definitely in the minority on this one 🙂 I’ve only read two other works by her — one of which I wasn’t too crazy about (Chasing Winter — the “growth” aspect got too weird for me) and another that I loved (Lone.) I’d say this one fell somewhere in the middle. She’s an excellent writer, and I’d certainly be willing to try more titles by her. Maybe I’ll give Paul’s Dream a try.

      • She does love those “growth” books – her stories are not for the faint of heart. 😆
        I, too, loved Lone. I hope you like Paul’s Dream. Again, the story is very strange – it’s about a lawyer and an incubus. 😀 If you like stories that are very different from the norm this might be something you would enjoy. At least I hope so.

  • Hi Zen – so interesting how differently we can see same books. I loved this book when it was first released and I loved the second edition. But I totally agree that this is not a fluffy romance – I think it started as a very sick relationship, never romanticized itself as anything but and despite something positive coming out of it eventually I think sick part will always be there. I guess I never viewed this book as a full blown romance if that makes sense? If at the end Joel tells Walker how to behave still, and says that it is like training a puppy, to me it does not sound very romantic. I am still surprised that I love this book so much because in 99 percent of the situation the books with any kind of forced relationship made me run away screaming. This was one of the most memorable mm books I have ever read and definitely partially because IMO it did not try to romanticize sick relationship. :). Thanks for listening to my ramblings :).

    • Hi Sirius,
      Thanks for your feedback. I think you have a lot of company 🙂 — almost everyone I’ve talked to about this book liked it more than I did. Agreed that the story does stay with you; perhaps a re-read in a few months is in order…
      Cheers,
      Zen

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