Life After Joe

Life After Joe - Harper Fox I love a beautifully written work. My degree is in English lit, and while I came to appreciate Romance novels for what they are in middle life, I often wish that many of them were better written. This one is, with beautifully crafted turns of phrase and sentences that aren't ashamed to be more than six words long. In many ways, it feels more like a denizen of the literary shelf than the erotic romance shelf.

Don't let the lovely writing fool you, though. The story is often dark, perhaps too real for some romance readers. The single perspective isn't what romance readers are accustomed to and the hero is not your traditional romance hero. Some readers may find Matt difficult to take in his willful, self-destructive behavior. But this is a very real portrait of depression. He knows he's going down the tubes, he's knows it's idiotic, but he can't stop his downward spiral, almost as if he watched himself from the outside at times. He hasn't merely suffered a break up, his world has shattered, and the portrayal here is convincing and very real.

Aaron is a bit of a cipher through much of the book, but this is dramatic necessity. Even while he keeps his distance from us and keeps his secrets, the strength wrapped around terrible vulnerability comes through loud and clear. His actions speak for him and the reader feels drawn to him.

My only issue with this book is the ending. In such a carefully constructed plot, where both feet are firmly planted in gritty reality, the scenes leading up to the resolution suddenly made a far leap into the absurd. That such a series of events could occur just seemed...difficult to believe, to say the least.

All in all, though, this is a marvelous story about two people in need of rescue. Most of the Romance elements are there, the growing attraction, the emotional conflict, the obligatory Black Moment, the resolution, but this is not your traditional Romance. A good thing for me. I've always loved different.