Wednesday, June 5, 2013
I have a whole new respect for Shay Savage. She really is an author and should be treated as such.
And while I enjoyed Otherwise Alone and really liked Surviving Raine, except for the epi (hissing at the author), Otherwise Occupied floored me from the start.
It is an exceptional read. Yes, you read that correctly, EXCEPTIONAL.
I read through the story in 2 days, the last 10 chapters in one sitting. I was so drawn in, so absorbed I could think of nothing else but Evan Arden.
Now considering this was the follow up to Otherwise Alone, my assumption for Otherwise Occupied would be Evan and Lia finding each other and continuing what they started or something along those lines.
I assumed wrong.
This was the story of Evan Arden once he was called back to Chicago from his exile in the Arizona desert. This was also a story within a story.
If you remember in OA, Evan was a former discharged Marine officer. In OO, the author gives us a very broad and detailed account of Evan's military background. As it turns out, he was captured, tortured, and held for 18 months by insurgents before finally being rescued. He was formally discharged with a diagnosis of PTSD. Now PTSD is a serious psychological disorder than can take on a life of it's own if not treated properly and professionally. In Evan's case, he did not seek proper treatment.
The PTSD explains so much about Evan and his behavior towards himself and others.
Evan is bad. And not bad in a hot guy kind of way.He is a hit man and kills with no remorse, including women if the job calls for it. It is only a job to him. He is also very closed off not believing he has anything to give to anyone, including relationships. His only actual relationship is with his dog, Odin. His only physical encounters are with hookers.
The author did a great job not glorifying his profession or making Evan out to be something he is not. He is not misunderstood. He is what he is. Was he likable? No. What he is was engaging. I was completely drawn in to his world. I started to understand his thought process. Why he was so closed off. Why he only did hookers. Evan was extremely complex. It didn't make him likable, it made him understandable. You aren't going to like him, but you will understand him by the end of the story.
Evan goes about his day to day life the only way he knows how. He does research on his "jobs", interacts with his "co-workers", and develops a some what odd relationship with a hooker named Bridgett. He picks her because she has a nicely rounded behind and Evan is a an ass man. Bridgett is also very young and very new to the "business" of hooking. As it turns out, the only way Evan can sleep is if Bridgett stays the night with him and sleeps with him, literally sleeps with him. Their "sleeping" together is very key to the story. Remember it.
Evan has horrible nightmares, attributed to his PTSD. Again, no proper treatment except for an occasional tip to a therapist.
Evan and Bridgett, it was definitely an odd relationship to say the least. You felt as though Evan cared about Bridgett, there were things he did that made you think that, but then there were things he did, that you knew nope, he doesn't care for her anymore than any other john would care. Very complex relationship and a relationship that has a direct baring on his future.
Keep in mind, the author uses a ton of nuances through out the entire story, many you will see come to fruition at the end of the story. She is basically telling you what is going to happen, you just don't realize it. It was why I sat as long as I did after completion.
Everything started replaying in my brain. There were a lot of "Oh" moments.
And where is Lia? After the first few chapters of her not making an appearance, it no longer mattered to me. Not that Evan didn't still think about her because he did. Evan's story, his odd relationship with Bridgett, his "work", Odin, his boss, his enemies were so engrossing, I stopped wondering about her.
Below is the end of the story. It is hidden as a spoiler for those who need to know now. Warning though - it is definitely not what you expected. Remember, nuances and the author telling you what is going to happen all along!
(view spoiler)[It wasn't until the very last chapter that Lia made an appearance. But it was at this point that Evan had a complete mental breakdown including hallucinations after killing Terry and Bridgett. It was at this point I knew finally Evan had feelings, he really cared about Bridgett and it was his actions that directly contributed to his break in reality. Lia's appearance is brief, it seems she has been searching for Evan all along. He sees her in the distance, but it's to late, he is already off the edge. What I love though was Lia wearing the quarter around her neck. You remember the meaning of the quarter right? Their encounter is brief as Evan is led away, handcuffed by the SWAT team. He sees Lia and shouts to her to take care of Odin, his beloved dog. Again, Evan really did have feelings but it took a break in reality to realize them. (hide spoiler)]
The epilogue, and again, not an epilogue, was a set up for the continuation of the story or a huge cliffie. And if a cliffie, I am coming to Cincinnati to hunt this author down and tell me the rest of the story!!
It was suspenseful, intriguing, and just plain old good story telling.
My hat's off to the author, this was an amazing story told in a very dark, gritty, and realistic way.
*ARC supplied L.J. Anderson, Marketing & Publicity for Shay Savage in exchange for a fair review.
A little shout out as well to L.J. Anderson and Mayhem Cover Creations as well for the perfection of the formatting of the ARC. Those who read ARC's know exactly what I mean when I say, no "crossed eyes" on any page. The formatting was a pleasure.