When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Preservation  - Rachael Wade
I don't take proclamations lightly but this is possibly the worst NA book I've finished reading… so far (because my faith in this genre to do worse is pretty unshakable). So much so that I feel like I owe the few books I've read and 1-starred (DNFs not included) before this at least dinner. 

I refuse to spoiler tag anything in this review on the grounds that I wish nobody the horror of reading this book accidentally. If you're really keen on reading Preservation, please skip on right ahead and disregard the crazy, agonized woman ranting about sense and logic (that would be me).

Just how bad do you think can things get for this genre? Let's meet the cast.

Kate Parker is a college student studying… something. She's escaped the sordid past of a drug-dealer boyfriend, a deserter father and an addicted mother right into Seattle where she struggles to make ends meet by taking an added job in the literacy center and takes writing workshops at night. She has two best friends, Dean and Carter both hot-blooded, straight males harboring feelings beyond friendship for the nonchalantly gorgeous Kate who adamantly friend-zones both despite her repeated proclamations of their attractiveness.
With a body like a Ken doll and hair like Meredith's McDreamy (she's referring to Patrick Dempsey), I couldn't figure out for the life of me what he wanted with me.

Spoiler Alert, Ken dolls don't have dicks. So swoon your little heart over that, Kate.

Anyway, she pays neither gag drool-worthy men any mind because she's too busy cursing (while also privately checking out) at her professor, the hunky manwhore Ryan Campbell, who has been on her case for always being late for class. Ryan has a reputation of sleeping with his students around campus but only after he's asked them to drop his class. Because, you know, the faculty generally FROWNS on this behavior and not expressly forbids it and Ryan Campbell is a man of outstanding meritorious morals. And besides, he's only behaving thus because he's been scarred by his fiancee whom he caught with a hockey player no ten minutes after he's left for an interview (he forgot his wallet) that would've ended with his literary works published. 

(Ryan's POV) It would no longer be Ry and Jamie, Jamie and Ry, the sweethearts from college, the ones who wanted to live in a little farmhouse in the mountains with two dogs and a cat. It would just be Ryan, the guy with a writing degree and no writing career, the apparent sex god with nothing else going for him except a little charm and some good looks.

Well, if he puts it that way, then I find his behavior totally excusable. I mean sex gods are people too, you know?

So they basically hate each other until Ryan reads Kate's writing and derives from there that she's a literary genius. Then something like non-existent sexual tension and chemistry in a pointless pool scene then boom! They're banging each other. 

Okay I may have cut a few corners there but there were A LOT of suddenlys going on in this book: 

☢Suddenly, Kate's attracted to Ryan.
☢Suddenly, Ryan stops his manwhoring days and becomes faithful to Kate.
☢Suddenly, Carter foregoes his attraction to Kate and becomes Ryan's number one fan.
☢Suddenly, Dean's girlfriend (Crystal) is besties with Kate whom she is taking career advice from.

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See my problem with reviewing this book? How can you take any of this seriously? How can the blurb be anything but disingenuous when it promises the thrill and taboo of a teacher-student relationship when it delivers morally apathetic protagonists and a story set in an environment that doesn't care if they got it on or not? If you're expecting a student-teacher story with any perceivable depth beyond playacting during sex then you'd be sorely disappointed.

There was no character development going on whatsoever, no effort to explain any of the characters' behavior and logic. There was no foundation behind Kate, Dean and Carter's friendship. They argue about desserts, Carter fakes a British accent and someone is afraid of heights… and that's it. There was lot of telling without showing giving this story a very porny feel where everyone is play-acting their parts. Badly. As this was told from Kate's point of view and its been repeatedly hammered how good of a writer she is, you never get the sense that she's what the story is claiming her to be. She's getting offers from a good number of PR firms to represent her work and even inspired Ryan to pursue his craft again.
Holy shit - tattoos. I spotted them immediately. The man has tattoos under all that scholarly attire. Crap. Now it would be even more impossible to focus when I was in his class. I had a serious weakness for tattoos, especially on the arms, and well… he had two works of art with heady aphrodisiac quality sprawled across them: one on his forearm and the other on his bicep to his shoulder.

I don't want to get judgy but this character's voice and the character profile do not compute At ALL. Such that I was so very interested in what kind of writing Kate was engaged in throughout this book but of course, it never came up.

The dialogue was never organic or realistic and the story progression was choppy to a fault, skimming over scenes that would've given the characters some depth. The conversations do not make sense. Ryan and Kate arguing sounded a lot like two deaf men talking to each other where one is talking about football and the other is talking about lunch. 

Expectedly, there were several break ups and make-ups on this one. Over Ryan's slut-shamed ex-girlfriends, over Kate nearly getting raped (after some decision-making process fail) and over Ryan swiping the publishing deal from Kate under her nose (that one I actually liked). The last one led to Kate escaping to St. Lucia where she's set herself to teach children to read. There was a moment of honesty in the scene where she's teaching a child, Nanette, that made me wonder why Kate was deprived of any such moments like that? Moments that would have made me at least a little sympathetic towards her and make me hesitate (just for a second) calling her stupid in this colossally bad reunion set up.
The bartender's voice rang out, holding the phone to his ear. "Kate Parker?" 
Still hazy from the shock of my afternoon delivery, I turned and waved my hand, and mumbled something into the phone, hanging up before walking towards me. "You're wanted down on the beach, miss."
"Sorry?"
"Someone just rang for you and asked you to head down to the beach."

Guess what our heroine did there? You're in a foreign country, its the middle of the night and someone asks you to go down the beach? Yes, she automatically assumes it's Ryan, the very guy who just stole her publishing deal and pushed her to run away, and rushed to meet him. In the beach. At night. Alone. Because it's entirely implausible that there are armed terrorists or human traffickers waiting for her there instead.



Seriously did nobody in this book watch Taken?

This got too long. And ranty. Nobody wants to read lengthy ranting reviews, especially from someone like me. So I'm just going to ask again: How bad can things get in this genre?



Too late… this is already a series.