Saturday, 5 April 2014

Review: Jane Harvey-Berrick's "Lifers."

Review: Jane Harvey-Berrick's "Lifers."

~ 3 - 3.5 hearts Review ~


Amazon UK:


After eight years in prison, twenty-four year old Jordan Kane is the man everyone loves to hate.

Forced to return to his hometown while on parole, Jordan soon learns that this small town hasn't changed since he was carted off to juvie all those years ago. He is the local pariah, shunned by everyone, including his own parents. But their hatred of him doesn't even come close to the loathing he feels every time he looks in the mirror.

Working odd jobs for the preacher lady, Jordan bides his time before he can leave this backwards town. But can distance erase the memories that haunt him? Trapped in the prison of his own mind Jordan wonders if the pain of living will ever subside?

Torrey Delaney is new in town and certainly doesn't behave in a way the locals believe a preacher’s daughter should. Her reputation for casual hook-ups and meaningless sex is the talk of the town. Add that to her budding friendship with the hardened ex-con handyman, and the good Reverend is less than thrilled with her estranged daughter’s path.

As friendship forms, is it possible for two damaged people who are afraid to love take their relationship to the next level? Can Torrey live with Jordan’s demons, and can Jordan break through Torrey's walls? With the disapproval of a small town weighing heavily on them, will they find their place in the world? Can they struggle against the odds, or will their world be viciously shattered?

Is love a life sentence?

Review: Surj Harvey

OK so this was my first experience of a Jane Harvey-Berrick book and I have to say, my feelings after reading it are a bit of a mixed bag. There were parts that I absolutely loved but there were definitely parts that that left me skimming the pages... craving something more... more angst? More drama? I don't know... I just couldn't put my finger on it but what I can say is, there were moments where I just felt completely detached from the story line because what I was reading either wasn't pulling me in anymore or it felt like a repeat of what I'd already read. 

The story line itself definitely sucked me in as did the first few chapters. Whatever Jordan had done to land himself an eight year stint in prison had peaked my interest and the contempt he received whenever he was within spitting distance of the town's folk had gotten my emotions all riled up. This did not make for a hearts and flowers read... in fact it was cruel and ugly. Jordan had served his time and no one deserved to be treated like something that had been scraped off the bottom of a shoe. Unfortunately Jordan didn't take my view on the matter, instead accepting everything that was thrown his way as part of a greater punishment. I could sense so much self loathing, so much unhappiness and unfortunately this was not only reinforced by the towns folk but also by his parents. I was so angry at what I was reading at times... the words of his parents infuriated me. I wanted to shake them... knock some sense into them but this was a situation that didn't seem like it would ever be fixable.. the pain and hurt radiating off the pages.

Despite his size and stature, Jordan came across as shy and timid. Prison life had definitely been harsh, dehumanising, debasing and institutionalising him to such an extent that integrating into society had been a struggle. I was desperate for someone to take his side... to stick up for him because unfortunately, he sure as hell wasn't going to do it himself.

Thank god for Torrey Delaney... she was well a truly the heroine in this story and from the get go, I loved her character. She was a no bullshit kinda girl that said it how it was and her dry sense of humour... she had me crying with laughter:

"Fine. You busted me eye-fucking the hot handyman. So sue me."

There was a real strength to her character.. a strength I truly admired. When she saw someone being wronged, she couldn't help but step in. Not once did she judge Jordan... even after his story was revealed.. instead she made up her own mind by getting to know him and what she saw... she liked. Halle-freakin'-lujah!!! 

The relationship between these two was filled with so much reluctance... Jordan feeling unworthy and Torrey .. well her past experience with the opposite sex hadn't been great so she steered clear of any kind of commitment.  

“But when I was with her, for the first time in a long while, I didn’t feel judged. 
I couldn’t figure out why, but she seemed to accept me for who I was. 
Not that I knew what that meant anymore, but she made me feel alive.”

The more they got to know each other, the more I realised just how vulnerable Jordan actually was. There was a fear that kept surfacing that he may lose the only person that had taken notice, that had taken his back, that he was actually starting to like for the first time in over eight years  and I could sense the desperation in him. There was no confidence in his character and he constantly sought reassurance in everything he did including in the progression of his relationship with Torrey. 

Unfortunately, this is where my patience started to wear thin. Just as I thought Jordan was turning a corner, becoming stronger... more confident in his own right, it was like he'd take ten steps back.. and when Torrey made the comment below.. it truly reflected how I was starting to feel:

"Oh jeez. Not the pity party again! Nobody loves me, 
everybody hates me, think I'll go eat worms!"

I felt his character was starting to go around in circles and it drove me up the wall. There were too many pages filled with the same stuff and I found myself skimming to find a juicier bit in the story... that's never a good sign. 

I finally got what I was craving at 75% when the story took a sharp turn. It came just at the right time and suddenly, "Lifers" took a precedence with me shutting out the rest of the world just so I could see where the story was headed. 

As a Jane Harvey-Berrick virgin, this was an OK read to pop my cherry. There were definitely moments where the story dragged, where I wanted more drama, more angst to pull me back so I thank god for the last 25% because this really did save the book for me. The change in Jordan's character during this time also helped because at one point I was losing the will to live when it came to the repetition in his behaviour. By the end of the book though, he'd got me and as much as I didn't fall in love with him.. I did like the direction his character was taking. 

I rated "Lifers"  3- 3.5 Hearts

1 comment:

  1. So sorry you felt like that but thank you for reviewing it.

    Janes first books which are being re-released The Education of Sebastian and The Education of Caroline definitely have more drama and angst in them if you wanted to check those out. Thanks again