Title: Take Me, Break Me
Author: H.C. Brown
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Take Me, Break Me, Dreamspinner
Genre: M/M Contemporary (Light BDSM)
Rating: 1 star
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A novel that faltered due to purple prose, underdeveloped characters and a lack of editing to lend cohesiveness.
Blurb: Reno Rocket, bass player for the rock band Dazed, thinks he’s on the strait and narrow but is his girlfriend just a cover for his confused sexuality? When the new lead singer, Tanner Star, walks in, Reno’s libido snaps to attention. His attraction to the famous rock star is immediate and disconcerting. Performing with Tanner every night blows Reno’s mind, and the moment Tanner grinds against him on stage, “curious” takes on a whole new meaning.
Tanner wants more than a lover. He wants a sub, and he’s willing to guide Reno into the world of BDSM. In turn, Reno wants to be everything to Tanner—lover, sub, and partner—but he fears the ghost of Tanner’s dead boyfriend will come between them.
At first they manage to find a balance and life is idyllic… until one rash action by Tanner plunges their new love affair into chaos. Will Reno admit to the world that he’s gay and face the media and his family’s wrath, or will he deny the love and exquisite attention Tanner’s world has brought him?
Review: I feel the need to explain my rating. I don’t often, but in this case I do believe it is necessary. While I will mention the “purple prose” that was rife in this novel, I want to assure you that was not the major factor for the lower rating. The rating was born of many things which I will outline for you in a moment but the “purple prose” certainly added to the overall feeling that this was not the polished story I had hoped it would be in the end.
I feel you should also know that this is the first time I have read this author. It is a policy of mine that I read at least two pieces of work by an author given the idea that I believe we all have an off day occasionally and the fact that many authors develop better writing skills as they hone their craft. However, this novel, Take Me, Break Me, by H.C. Brown had some real difficulties and so, let me begin.
First, so we are all on the same page–what is purple prose? Purple prose is flowery or overly dramatic wording that draws the attention away from the story. I could write paragraphs of examples from Take Me, Break Me, but these few will have to suffice:
“thick, throbbing shaft”
“Heat curled up in his rod in flames of delight.”
“Tanner’s well-oiled digit moved in and out, igniting waves upon waves of orgasmic sizzle.”
“…his delicious cum like the white foaming bubbles from a bottle of soda.”
“…grasped Reno’s slippery hips, and pressed the engorged helmet at the gate to paradise.”
While I have no doubt that some might view their partner’s certain anatomical asset as a “gate to paradise,” I am afraid that in the midst of a love scene all this did was make me laugh and then groan in frustration. The over the top descriptors went on and on in this novel, each building on the last and none seeming to add to the scene they consistently popped up in. It was simply too much. The repetitive nature began to grate, each scene having more ornate and overblown descriptions of the act of making love. The result meant being constantly pulled from the action by a wildly worded passage..I mean “bubbling like a bottle of soda”? No, that was simply too much and I felt it had a negative impact on the story overall.
The near instant capitulation of the main character Reno to the idea of being a submissive to Tanner and then falling instantly in love as well made me scratch my head in confusion. Within eighteen pages of text, the idea of submitting, coming out of a carefully constructed closet and calling a man “Master” all took root, blossomed and became the norm. Yes, there were moments of doubt here and there, but each time Reno put them aside and dove back into Tanner’s waiting arms. Here was a young man who was engaged to a girl hand-chosen by his abusive father, completely naive about his financial status due to his capital being controlled by the same father and who has had a two month “crush” with his band mate Tanner, suddenly sinking into submission and insta-love like a pro.
I was dumbfounded by the swift turn of events. While Reno had his occasional worries, and even told Tanner his need for him to “take it slow,” that often communicated into waiting less than eight hours before falling into bed. I just didn’t buy it. I felt like there were too many concessions. Perhaps if the author had just focused on the love aspect and built into the submission I would have found the overall idea of this boy moving so fast from scared and hidden to out and demanding much more palatable.
Yes, I will agree that Reno continued to be nervous and worried, but that was continually fixed with sex and glib assurances that things would be taken care of by Tanner. Time-wise events in this novel moved so rapidly the authenticity of the action came into question time and again.
As a result, the characters never grew and evolved, they simply reacted to circumstances and that meant the declarations of love felt false and weak. Too neat. This novel’s conflicts were too neatly resolved and too speedily dismissed.
Finally, I question the idea that Tanner was a Dominant at his core. At first, there was an added dimension of danger surrounding Tanner and his deceased former partner. I found myself agreeing that the nature of their previous relationship guided how Tanner responded to Reno. I understood that Tanner felt it necessary to go slower and introduce Reno to the BDSM scene gradually so that Tanner himself not give into his proclivity toward brutal play. However, as time went on, Tanner’s thinking, his revelations, had the feel of a man seeking a boyfriend–a partner, not of a Dom wanting a sub. To be frank, Tanner, himself, came across as way too needy to be able to provide the consistent rules and lifestyle that Reno so desperately wanted.
Take Me, Break Me by H. C. Brown was a good idea that was never fully realized. Its execution was flawed, rushed at times, and too easily glossed over with sex and more than one empty promise of a better tomorrow. The overly descriptive phrases that permeated its pages didn’t serve to heighten action or further the story line but rather tended to pull this reviewer out of the novel again and again. The characters stayed fixed in their trajectories and failed to change and grow as the story demanded. Overall, I felt the novel was in need of major editing to make it a solid story.
Dear readers, I leave the decision for pursuing this one to you. I will make sure to read another piece of work by this author, who I think might have the potential to be a good storyteller. However, given what I feel to be major flaws in its overall structure, I cannot recommend this novel to you.