Can’t Hide From Me (PrinCkhera’s Review)


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Title: Can’t Hide From Me
Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 3rd, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 338
Reviewed by: PrinCkhera
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Blurb:

Charles Hunter’s team is on a mission to extract an unidentified ATF agent from an undercover job gone wrong. All they’ve got to go on is the rendezvous location—until Charles recognizes the ex he hasn’t seen in years. Their “simple rescue mission” is about to get a lot more complicated.

For Ángel Medina, adjusting to life after his cartel nightmare is hard enough without confronting memories of a failed relationship. All he wants is a fresh start. But when a violent stalker lashes out from the shadows, Ángel realizes his nightmare is far from over.

As the stalker’s obsession escalates and bodies start dropping, Charles and Ángel are thrown together in a desperate search for the culprit. Tempers flare and old passions reignite, drawing them back into the same turbulent relationship that once ended in disaster.

But the stalker isn’t letting go—and the next strike might hit straight through the heart.

Right. Full disclosure. I started this weird book metaphor and it’s about 50% of this review. I couldn’t help myself. Maybe you’re right there with me, maybe you’re completely judging me – I know I am. But, while writing a review it’s best to be honest. And what a book can do to me, what it did to me – is what I tend to focus on. This one made me acknowledge my own bookish ways. Just replace me/you with Ángel in this metaphor, and the book with Charles. I’m basically describing the relationship between Ángel and Charles. That makes this all okay… Hopefully.

So now that that’s out of the way.

First of all… How often do you get a copy from NetGalley by the publisher which has next to no “spelling” or “grammar” issues that were distracting? WHEN I ask you? When?
Well. That’s this book. A fucking unicorn. Because that just happened. Sorry. Sometimes the editing on the ARCs is so bad that it completely distracts you from the story, and you can’t even take it being an ARC-thing into consideration. Because, it’s so distracting! I likely came upon this book after having read a book that made me ask WHY?! which is why my reaction is so OTT.

But this book, omg. Love-love-loved that there was nothing like that. And even if there was, the story was so much… fun? Interesting? Gripping? Awesome? Hot? Seriously. What word do I use to describe this book?
I read this book exclusively. I’m a habitual poly-reader. Is that a word? Or am I making one?

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I’m going to roll with this now, I already warned you in the beginning. Why, you ask? Why am I going down this path?
Because I couldn’t help myself.
And because I can.

“You make me want to break the rules.”

So, confession time.
Typically I’m reading around 10 books at the same time. And it’s usually because of the following reasons:

  • it’s so intense I can’t handle reading it continuously
  • it’s in the meh category since I can easily get seduced by another book. I’m just not that into it.
  • Maybe I’m falling in love, and I don’t want to, so I start another book even though I know that this book is waiting for me – in my ibooks library and it’s waiting and waiting. Knowing that I’m off with some other book right now. Still waiting.

200-2

Commitment phobe…. Very possible.

I have unfinished books in the triple digits, and the amount of books I’ve gone through in the past year… I have a problem. I’m book crazed. I need to join a book-a-holics anonymous or something.

Hi, I’m Kudrat and I’m a book-a-holic. Reading books has been my escape. From what, I can’t tell. The every day drudgery of life? From myself? From my problems? From being self-reflective? From being self-destructive? Or is this my way of being self-destructive? Do I have deep seated issues which is why I binge read around exam/huge deadline time?
What do I know, I’m not a psychologist.

200-12

I think only my GR friends, and selected bookish friends IRL can understand. Or, not. Because I don’t know if I want to come out as a book-free-spirit. It sounds so negative, to use words like slut or whore. When it comes to books. Though i’m acting like one. At least, that’s what I’m letting other perceive myself as because of my actions. Maybe it’s because of all those things I just confessed in italics. Not because I can’t help myself when this fine looking book, with an amazing summary to boot (and omg, is that < insert awesome author name here > book O.O)… I can’t help myself.

But, I am not representative of other bookish people out there, now am I. I’m perhaps an outlier. Or maybe this whole process I go through is just me going nuts… Because I can.

Regardless, books offer you so much and they ask so little in return.

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But, a book should come with a label already telling you whether you’re going to love it, meh-it, hate it – or whether it’s going to break your fucking heart. So you only go after the ones that have your heart thumping, or you go through a bunch of meh-books because you’re not ready to have your heart broken again. But also ones you can avoid so that you don’t think back on them and wonder why the fuck did I do that to myself? What was even the point? I can’t even remember what this book was about, even though I was binge-reading it. I’ve had that a lot though. Most books don’t come with personalized labels like that. Others can give you advice but that’s it.

Books are like relationships. They take commitment. If you’re too scared to handle it, if you don’t put in the time – you’re not going to get anywhere.

But, the book will always be waiting even if it doesn’t know it is. In the back of your mind, even if you’ve moved on to another book or you’re living the life with other books, that one book will still be on your mind. Because you didn’t finish it. Because there’s still some left.

Because even if a relationship, or book, is bad you don’t quit. You deal with it head-on, one of these days at least. Ask your friends, on whether you think you should continue with the book. Give the book a second chance. Or don’t give it one, because you’re in a situation in which you really shouldn’t be reading another book. Again.

There’s just one huge difference between this downward spiraling book metaphor and this book – Can’t Hide From Me.

Unlike humans, a book won’t get pissed off with you. It won’t misunderstand or manipulate you. It’s a relatively safe relationship. Relatively being the operative word. Because sometimes there are those books that hold you at their every whim. You’re so entranced, you can’t put them down. You let your sleep go to hell, you forget about your food, you’re so focused on finishing them – they’re basically really controlling girl/boy-friends.

“What is it about me that’s always scared you so much?”
“You make me want to break the rules.”

Think about it.

You’re not taking care of yourself. You’re not hanging out with your friends or family. You’re ignoring real life, where you either have a job, are a student, are learning something or another or you’re ignoring your job as being a good mother/father/daughter/son/brother/sister, which is important in and of itself.

Your mom screams at you to stop reading. Your friends tell you that it’s probably better if you start studying (they’re not as pushy though). Your brain tells you that you shouldn’t be doing this.

Do you listen?

Of course not.

Because they don’t understand what happens when you and that one book are close to each other. In each other’s vicinity. When in this day and age all you need to do is a few clicks and you have it open on your computer. When it’s so easy to be together, and even if this thing between you and the book is temporary, you fucking know it is, you still can’t look away.

You try, ofcourse. You try opening your study book. You try hanging out with friends. You try being on time for your job and actually doing your work.

You try other books.

But all it takes is one glance and you’re back bending it over a table and reading the shit out of it.
(Anyone who’s already read this – will totally get what I just did there. I’m pretty proud. You should as well, if I’ve even gone through the trouble of writing this totally unnecessary message in between – it’s so obvious).

You know few people will understand your love. You haven’t come out as an (MM)book obsessed person to anyone. You’re forced to defend yourself, by trying to come up with reasons why you’re reading it. You don’t even understand – it just is. Control is not your friend.

“I can control myself.”
“In general? Sure. Around me? History has pretty conclusively proven otherwise.”

200-9

Both Ángel and Charles, were so fucking volatile around each other. But, it worked… sorta.

Whenever Charles asked Ángel to stay, Ángel wasn’t able to leave.

This relationship between you and that book is difficult to understand – but it works.

Because it’s also destructive.

Because sometimes being destructive is okay, as long as you go into it knowing 100% that’s what you want.

So. Did I go too far with the metaphor? Perhaps. Was it border-line ranty? No. It was completely like that. But, unless you’ve read the book you likely won’t understand how this me-being-me thing is actually an apt description of Charles and Ángel’s relationship. Read it. I’m like 98% there. In my opinion, of course.

Charles must have some kind of illness. That was the only explanation for why he kept ending up balls-deep inside Ángel, despite all logic and common sense.

There’s a number of topics, if I leave the plot point (i.e. the stalker) and Ms. Kingsbridge (I’ll come back on her later) behind for a moment that I attempted to put in there.

Charles’s bi-sexuality. To be honest, personally I don’t understand why anyone gives a fuck about who’s doing who. Okay, maybe not that because it’s gossip and human beings can’t help themselves. Myself included. More so, if it’s because of either gender/race/ethnicity/anything else that has nothing to do with their personality – is what I mean.

Bi-sexuality is a misunderstood and complex concept that I’ve frankly never thought about. I basically thought of it as being attracted to both sexes and both sexes getting your motor revving.

Hey, whatever floats your boat man. It’s none of my business.

Ofcourse, I’d love to hear the details about when you first met, how did you get together, when did you know. Or if there’s anything I can do, be a listening ear. You know, typical friend stuff you do for anyone you are not enemies with. Hell, if a stranger is on the street bawling her eyes out… Okay, I might not approach. But, I wouldn’t exactly feel comfortable leaving because of the obvious wrongness of that – though I also don’t want to be a spectator. So, see how difficult it is just about that? And that’s just someone you’ve never met before. Someone whose name you know, you’ve gone to classes with or work with. Have a heart. Not that difficult, and if someone’s willing to confide in you – that’s a big thing. Regardless.

Ms. Kingsbridge didn’t treat Charles’s bisexuality as a joke. Which I’ve seen many authors actually do with a supposedly bi-character. The issues that come hand-in-hand with coming out as bi are absolutely non-sensical. But there they are regardless. Issues that they’re going to have to face, and usually because of it don’t even bother coming out because having to defend your sexual orientation is ludicrous. Giving this sensitive issue the proper respect is something very commendable and Ms. Kingsbridge did a very good job.

Of course my metaphor was borderline-crazy. No, it completely was crazy. But, along with the ridiculous – if you bothered reading past that (maybe even recognizing yourself in it, because what I wrote is true for myself) then you get to the more sensitive stuff. The actual analysis of the book. That metaphor, not saying I myself am not patting my back with my own hand (I totally am) for it, but it gave me a method to personify (sorta) the relationship that exists between Ángel and Charles.

Both Charles and Ángel are at an impasse. Not being able to move forward, because they’re stuck with one another. Obviously in love, though not able to admit it. Not even recognizing it for what it is. Buried in the painful memory of betrayal. Of manipulation. Of being unable to forgive. Yet, being completely unable to keep their hands off one another.

“You know, for someone who’s so adamant about not wanting to fuck me, you sure can’t seem to keep your dick out of my ass.”

Their last argument being an issue that hangs over their head. Charles keeping his bisexuality a secret, a sword held to their throats.

And the threat of a stalker, pushing those together who would otherwise likely not have seen each other again after that argument.

There’s some stuff I can tell you about the book that isn’t riddled with me completely actual-life book merging my life with it. It was gripping, the whole stalker plot gave these two the push they so thoroughly needed. I was 90% sure about who it was, and the resting 10% that Ms. Kingsbridge was able to weave in made it a page-turner.

I’m already familiar with Ms. Kingsbridge’s writing style because of Close Protection. It’s a name you tend to remember once you’ve seen it. I’m terrible with author names, truly. Unless it’s a book that took my fucking breath away, I wouldn’t know who wrote it. I mean, what’s the point? Sure, I can like the book. Sure, I can perhaps even love it – but sometimes people (which authors belong to) get lost in the haze of bingereading one book after another. You’ve read my above confession… Right? My book coming out? On the net, at least.

It’s probably been about a year since I read Close Protection by Ms. Kingsbridge. Which made me look at online fiction – and take it more seriously, because fuck are there diamonds in the rough out there. I was truly disappointed to hear she decided to take her stories down, but the tentative promise that she did so because one day she might one to rewrite and publish them? AWESOME. I mean, I already liked her writing, and the stories had actual plots. But, this just means they’re going to get better and new readers will get a more refined and polished story than its original version. Which is great. This means I can get to read CP (maybe, hopefully, pretty please one day?) again with a new eye.

Ms. Kingsbridge has the ability to suck you into her story. Her dual POV actually serves its purpose. There isn’t a huge (read completely ridiculous) disparity between who the person is when it’s from their POV, and who they are from the other’s POV. I mean, sometimes it can work – but so few people can pull that off that it just seems inadequate.

Ángel. Confusing name. First I was reading it like angel, and then I noticed the thingie on top of it. And still I had trouble sticking with the name. I had trouble visualizing Ángel to be honest.

“Though it had been illegal and stupid and so vulgar, he’d once taken Ángel over the trunk of his car in the parking lot of his apartment building—because when Ángel Medina wanted a cock up his ass, it was very difficult to refuse.
The fact that he hadn’t wanted to refuse was beside the point.”

Yes, I know he’s gorgeous. Yes, I know that he really likes a dick in his ass. Yes, I know he had a side-ways bang. But, I just couldn’t visualize him properly.

Also, an interracial romance!

I have a friend who’s kind of (really) pissed about racism within the gay community, an issue to his heart. Frankly, I get it. There’s totally a siding towards white, hot, buff guys and twinks. Not really much interracial reading to be done in this particular genre, but authors are becoming more inclusive by the book. Not every guy is so hot that every other character has their panties in a twist over them. Though, ofcourse Charles and Ángel are. Charles is an African-American, I’m Indian so is it racist if I say black? I don’t know. I get confused. What’s politically correct?

Whatever. Point is the guy is fine. And… The sex.

Anyways, what my point was that Charles’s colouring plays a role into his decision to keep his sexuality a secret. Because of the prejudice that Bi people face, even more so because of being blamed for the originators of spreading aids (says so in the book at least).

Ms. Kingsbridge didn’t just add this point then to make it more “international”, like when universities take a picture of you and put you on the campus brochure simply to show off that there’s a bunch of ethnic diversity at your university and you should totally join because they’re comlpetely going to make you feel at home.

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Not saying it’s not a good development, but hey. People notice if it’s just for appearance sake or if there’s actually a reason supporting certain choices.

We’re not stupid you know.

Anyways. Props for the interracial romance, but moving on.

God. This was so
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Just look at the quotes peppered throughout the review. It should give you an idea.

“Charles . . .” Ángel parted his thighs, canting his hips. “I can’t come again.”
“I think you could,” Charles said, hoarse. “I think if I milked your prostate, you’d come for me again—even if you couldn’t ejaculate, even if you couldn’t get hard. You’d still feel it inside.”
Ángel moaned brokenly.

Yes. So, expect lots of that.

It isn’t exactly a story that stands out on its own. Something rated above four stars, for me, is a book that made you think and had an effect on you in some way, even if it’s incremental. By not only giving a story that a reader would enjoy, but also choosing a character that is experiencing problems not many in the genre have properly expressed, Ms. Kingsbridge accomplished that.

Even through my obvious yay for this story, there are definitely aspects of the story that could have been done better, or more elaborately.

200-13

I wanted to know more about Ángel and Charles before Ángel went undercover. I wanted to see them fall in love basically, and I didn’t. I saw two overgrown teenagers obviously hot for each other, too hurt by their past to move on.

I wanted to see the fights that led them to perhaps move past such great hurt. After the confession (which was great!) I wanted to see the repercussions more. It was frankly skipped, which was a shame.

I wanted more depth. Yes, we get into Charles’s head and learn about his motivations for hiding his sexuality. Okay. Awesome. What about why he’s maddeningly and obliviously in love with Ángel? We know he can’t keep his hands off him, now tell me more about what the neurons firing in his brain are doing. Yes, we also learn about Ángel. But, the guy has just come back from having worked 2 years undercover in a cartel where Godknowswhat he went through. And he got a nice stalker out of it. His actions felt lackadaisical, and his emotions hard to grasp even though we get into his head to a certain extent.

I wanted to know more about the stalker’s motivations, not superficially but truly what made his/her obsession happen. What was the trigger?

I wanted to know more about Charles’s relationship with Amy, which I was actually very curious about. Though this would have been more of a nice-to-have.  I wanted to know more about the team’s reaction.

I just wanted more in general. I didn’t get that,

But, overall, this is a story with many facets – more than just what you read at first glance… Also, I may have bumped up the rating because I ended up smiling at the ending.

“I don’t want to ever feel like that again,” he said. “I want to put down roots; I want to be around people who won’t let me go without a fight. I want somewhere I can call home.”


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Galley copy of Can’t Hide From Me provided by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.