Today we have are bringing you another Buddy Review, this time for A Chance for Us by Jake C. Wallace. Both Sue and Kris read the first book in the New Vampire Justice series, so they are joining together to review this second book. This is an interesting Buddy Review in that the reviewers had very different opinions on this book. So just goes to show that everyone views books differently. Enjoy the reviews!
Rating: 2.75 stars
Justin Masters has been to Hell and lived to tell the tale. If you can call his current existence living as he is plagued by crippling panic attacks, shadowy nightmares, and a desire for pain that he doesn’t fully understand. Given that he spent seven years trapped in a catatonic state, held captive and tortured, Justin’s road back to health isn’t expected to be easy. But Justin knows it would be absolutely impossible if not for Max. Calming, supportive, and depressingly straight Max.
Max Kincaid has watched Justin’s slow improvements with pride. He knows he is the other man’s anchor and, if Max is being honest, he enjoys having Justin as a roommate. They just work together. But keeping Justin safe seems to be a full-time job. The secretive group that held him prisoner wants him back. And Max can’t ignore the fact he’s started to think of Justin has more than a friend. With the danger growing and desperate to stay together, Max and Justin must fight a more vicious enemy than either of them could have imagined.
A Chance For Us is the second in the New Vampire Justice series. It isn’t a direct sequel to Dare to Love Forever, but the books really should be read in order to have a full understanding of the characters and multiple subplots. I rather enjoyed Dare to Love Forever because it was something of a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately A Chance For Us fails to achieve the same kind of success. The plot is overly convoluted, there are too many subplots happening and none of them are given enough attention, and the primary couple doesn’t jump off the page.
The book is well written and despite an unnecessarily complex plot, the author has done a good job of thoroughly exploring the world of the New Vampire Justice Department. The characters are a tight knit group and as readers we’re welcomed into the chaos with an easiness that I enjoyed. But from this point on things break down for A Chance For Us. Max and Justin make excellent friends, but never come close to working as a believable couple. They are both relatively well-defined characters and while we are told time and again how close they are, I never found myself believing it. Their connection acts like a plot convenience rather than driving forward any romance.
The secondary cast becomes excessive and often names are tossed onto the page without ever being acknowledged later. And while I appreciate these characters will likely come up in future novels, given how little they had to do with A Chance For Us, they tended to clutter things up. The plot was knotted and gnarled, rather than feeling linear and clear and, combined with ploddy pacing, I found myself struggling to maintain interest as the book went on.
I still think this series has some potential as the first book, Dare To Love Forever, certainly got off on the right foot. A Chance For Us missed the mark with too many extraneous characters and a plot that dragged in more ways than one. While I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, I’m keeping my mind opened for the next in the series.
Rating: 4.25 stars
I have been waiting for this book. Having read the first edition of the first book, Dare to Love Forever, this second one has felt like a long time coming. And I’ll admit to being slightly cautious and wary that I wouldn’t have the same connection to the characters. But immediately I was drawn into the story and sucked back into the world. And that, for me, is where Wallace really excels. His characters are well drawn out and developed, but this world he’s created is astounding. It’s a contemporary world, sure, but vampires exist and the prejudice against them is huge. I’m impressed with the continuity of the world, how things changed and expanded in this second book, while still remaining in the confines of what has already been established. Good world building is my crack, and it’s going to win my admiration every time.
On top of that, Wallace has created two MCs that dominate the page. Max has such a generous heart and he is determined, down to his very core, that Justin is going to get exactly what he needs to heal and cope. That’s not to say Max is without his own baggage. The biggest of which is that he’s straight, and he’s never even looked at another man before. What I loved was that Max, once he realized the depth of his feelings for Justin, did not hesitate to own them. What didn’t work quite as well for me was his instance that he was straight except for Justin. I really liked that his love and connection to Justin grew over time. He started out thinking of Justin as someone who needed care, but his feelings grew deeper gradually, so he didn’t recognize it immediately. While he maybe jumped to love a little fast for me, it also totally worked within this story.
And Justin? My heart just broke for him. From the very beginning, he was hurting and broken. The things that had been done to him were horrific. He was made to experience things against his will, he was tortured and brainwashed. And yet underneath it all, he had a steel will. It took him a while to find it again, and it came down to the safety Max gave him, as well as Max giving him what he needed. Part of that was his programming, but there was also an innate need for him to be submissive. He needs pain, and though it’s never really clear how much of that is because of what was done to him and what was his own nature, I think the author did a pretty good job of trying to show it was a part of Justin on some deep level. I liked, too, that at the end, he’d come a long way in his healing process but he wasn’t perfectly fixed. This felt real and believable to me.
The BDSM aspects of this story were pretty hardcore at some points. And I think it’s worth a mention that, because of the story, there were some moments where it seemed like a mental illness. I’ll admit that as I was reading this, I was a bit uneasy because of how it was being portrayed. However, that was ultimately addressed in a way I felt was very fitting. Things were explained more fully, and while I don’t think it entirely got there, it was handled well. I would have liked a bit more introspection on the part of some of the characters, just to make it feel a little more solid for me.
But I continue to really enjoy this world, and this series. As it is really an ensemble cast, the MCs here were part of the first book, and the whole host of characters appear again. I loved the “created family” this group of characters have made, and it grounds the story and allows it to continue on. And once again, Wallace has left us hanging on a delicious cliff. So I’m definitely looking forward to more.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.