Flashbulb (Flight HA1710 #3)


Title: Flashbulb (Flight HA1710 #3)
Author: Clare London
Publisher: Jocular Press
Release Date: June 26, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 130
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

Blythe Harris was taking his first flight to the USA and hopefully a whole new client base for his bespoke upholstery business. An adventure for him, he was both nervous and excited to attract the attention of a handsome steward. Things might have gone further – if Flight HA1710 hadn’t failed.

Marc Stafford is a self-confessed player, and he used his charm to seduce his cute passenger. But in the aftermath of the crash, he’s struggling to recover his confidence. The TV declares him a hero for saving passengers, but at night his nightmares trigger painful flashbulb memories of the crash.

In an Irish hospital, Bly realises that although his broken leg will recover, his career may not. And in Chicago, Marc can’t face returning to work. Neither of them can shake off the memory of their brief, sexy encounter. Both of them need to be with someone who understands exactly what they’ve been through. And on a middle ground they can make all their own.

I have only read True Colors by Clare London and I absolutely loved it. It was an emotional 5 star read for me. When I read the blurb for Flashbulb, the angst lover inside me saw stars. Sadly, I was disappointed with the story.

We meet Bly and Marc on Bly’s first flight to Chicago. Marc is a flight attendant and a frequent user of the mile-high club. He begins to flirt with Bly quite strongly, especially because Bly is so nervous about flying. There is a delicious encounter mid-flight in the lavatories and then all hell breaks loose. The plane crashes. Bly wakes up in a hospital in Ireland with broken bones and no idea if Marc even made it. He decides to stay in Ireland after being discharged from the hospital instead of going back home and facing his upholstery business with a hand that he can’t really use yet. Marc is sulking in his apartment in Chicago, no matter what his charming room-mate tries to do to cheer him up. On a whim, he decides to go looking for Bly and next thing you know, Bly is opening the front door to him.

Here’s where the story took a wrong turn for me.

First of all, there was no detail about the crash. I love survival stories and I really thought I would get a front row seat to the panic and chaos that would have ensued in these last moments before the crash. Those details came later, mainly as flashbacks from Marc, but the transition from on-the-plane to after-the-crash felt choppy to me.

The guys had spent only a few minutes together. So, the whole “I’m flying to Ireland to find you even though I have no idea where you live” didn’t seem convincing. I am guessing it was meant to be a grand gesture of sorts but it fell flat. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the MCs at all, and the first proper sexual encounter wasn’t anything inspiring. Their time together left me feeling bored and anxious to see some action or something exciting happen. They went shopping and Marc gave Bly massages for his hand (which magically started getting better once Marc was in the picture), and just hung out. They didn’t talk much. I felt like I didn’t really know them and that they didn’t really know each other, so why was all of that happening again?

Now for my biggest pet peeve. If you’re going to use flashbulb memories as a theme in your book to the point where it’s the title of your book, please author, use it correctly. Flashbulb memories in and of themselves are not positive or negative. They’re neutral. They could form after a big tragedy but they could also form after a happy occasion that happened to affect a lot of people together. They are not flashbacks. There’s a great definition of flashbulb memories given via nurse Maura, who went to visit Bly and ended up acting like she’s there to have a mini therapy session with Marc. So, while the definition was correct, the term was actually used as a flashback:

”A flashbulb memory is an autobiographical one. You remember an event more vividly because of your strong emotional reactions at the time. The circumstances were so significant to you personally that all the details surrounding it became exaggeratedly clear in your memory. And long-lasting too.” –research suggests that the memories erode over time and are not in fact accurate, but no matter. You get the gist.

And then Marc goes: ”Yeah. I’ve had them ever since the-“…”Doesn’t make any difference whether my sleep’s deep or shallow, whether I’m tired or excited or any which way. The nightmares come and go as they please.”

I also didn’t appreciate how much brit-speak Marc used when he’s supposed to be American. Sometimes it was subtle but it was enough to throw me off the story and notice. If I’m going to nit-pick now, I will say that all these exclamation marks would have been suited to a lighter, fluffier kind of book and I didn’t feel it was suited here. Too many exclamation marks man.

The guys get a HEA but I honestly didn’t care enough about them at that point.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy reading this. The characters didn’t mesh well in my opinion and the trauma from the crash could have been explored better. Maybe I didn’t like it because of my expectations or because things about the writing itself threw me off.

Can’t recommend.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Flashbulb provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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