Rating: 3.5 stars
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Starting Point is the third book in N.R. Walker’s Turning Point series. I also think it’s the last, but don’t quote me on that.
This story picks up six months after the near end of Matt’s relationship with Kira and the end of Matt’s career with the LAPD, and the day after Matt asks Kira to marry him and Kira says yes. Matt has been attending twice weekly sessions with his new therapist, and while still struggling with forgiving himself, Matt has grown and healed by leaps and bounds over the past six months. His relationship with Kira is as strong or stronger than it’s ever been. His relationship with Kira’s parents is mended. And he’s working with kids at the same fight club that almost killed him and that is now a youth center/fight club. He teaches self-defense and drug prevention, and he loves everything about it.
When Claudia and Rueben Vaughn walk into his club, Matt is immediately taken with nine-year old Claude and her bossy, go-get-em attitude. Ruby is a little standoffish, but it’s evident that he cares for his sister and would do anything to help her and keep her safe. They aren’t very well taken care of, but not many of the kids are.
When Kira comes to pick Matt up for work one night, Kira sees Claude start to climb into a trashcan. That was the first night they took the little girl home to feed her and give her a safe, warm place to sleep. Ruby is twelve and gets himself in with the wrong crowd trying to take care of his sister and himself. When Matt realizes what’s going on with Ruby, he gives Ruby a chance to work to make a better life for him and his sister.
Somewhere between planning his life and wedding with Kira, seeing his shrink, and trying to save Claude and Ruby, Matt finds himself. He finds his happiness and contentment. But when things begin to unravel, will Matt be able to handle the chaos without falling apart once again?
I love Matt. I love Kira. I absolutely love Matt and Kira. But this story is not so much the Matt and Kira I fell in love with. This story is good, and at times, it’s great. It’s just not the Matt and Kira I have come to know and love.
So, let me start with the good points of this book. First, Matt. Matt has had a tough road—blaming himself for Kira getting kidnapped after they first started dating, literally beating himself up for it, and self-destructing. He’s come a long way, turned his self-destructive path around and I love him for that. I like that Walker didn’t magically heal him, but walked me through Matt’s good times and bad times, his breakdowns and healing. I liked that Matt talks to Kira, really talks to him, about everything.
And as always Kira is a rock, Matt’s rock. He’s so level-headed and stable. He’s pretty much perfect. And lo and behold, we finally get Kira’s POV. It only took three books but it’s about time. It was only two chapters and an epilogue, but yes, we finally get to see part of the story through Kira’s eyes. It’s not much and whereas Kira is every bit the supporter and backbone of the relationship, it wasn’t what I expected. He seemed almost lost in how he dealt with Matt and with Claude’s situation.
Ruby is a big part of what I liked in this book. The reality of homeless youth and the issues they face is brought to the forefront in this story. The struggles Ruby faced as Claude’s older brother, the provider in their family, were all too real. This story paints fear and hopelessness in a bleak reality of drugs, violence, gangs, and prostitution. It’s a scary world and Walker does not sugarcoat it, although she does shine a light in the darkness by way of the fight club and the mentors there. Ruby and Claude were the product of life happening to them without their knowledge, yet Claude wore a smile, and Ruby was the reason for her optimism, even if he lost his years ago.
I mentioned before that this story isn’t what I expected. After the fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride that were the previous two books, this story and plot fell flat. It’s not consistent with the other two installments. It was a good story, but not nearly as good as the first two. It’s why I was so disappointed by the end of the story.
Inconsistency is a big part of my problem here. The Matt that I adore and fell in love with is no longer the at-all-costs, ask-questions-later type of guy. He’s more hesitant, and whereas, I love that he is that way because he wants to keep his relationship with Kira, he just doesn’t feel the same. Then there’s Kira—strong, supportive, bold Kira. There’s a line that is used in one of the final chapters had me quirking an eyebrow, because it’s not something I ever would have expected to come from him. To be honest, there were a few expressions that didn’t align with who Kira was but this one stands out best: I picked Claude up, giving her a big squeezy hug. In my view of Kira, this is so far out of the scope of the way he speaks, it caught me off guard. But like I said, it’s only one example.
I would like to point out that this author, no matter my quibbles and frustrations with this story, still managed to make me cry like a little baby. I love Walker’s writing. No matter the situation, I’m glued to the pages. And up until the noticeable inconsistency, the storytelling was flawless. In all that I wasn’t completely happy with the story, I was still drawn in by Walker’s words and taken on a journey—a good journey, just not the one I expected.
This book was hard for me to review because I love this author and her writing so much. Like I said earlier. I love Matt. I love Kira. And I absolutely love Matt and Kira. But in this case, I was disappointed more than less. I expected more because of the previous installments in this series—more action, more mystery, more angst, but it just wasn’t there. So yeah, it was a good story, and I liked it but I had too many issues with this one to enjoy it fully.
Note: This book releases May 23rd from Totally Bound Publishing and is currently available for order on their site.