As a reviewer, we often receive an advanced copy of the novel we are to review and, as such, we can expect there may be a few typos here and there due to the fact that it is not necessarily the final copy you or I would purchase at release time. I tell you this so that you are aware that I forgive those small errors as part of the benefit of getting to see a manuscript in advance. What is not expected nor normal, however, is an abundance of storyline errors that actually affect your reading of the book to the point where it leaves you confused. Having said all that, I can state unequivocally that John Charles desperately needed to submit his latest Fated Soulmates story, Two Weeks To Life, to an editor. Not only were there numerous typos in this book, but also there were misnamed characters, fairly huge plot point changes that directly went against a previously stated idea, and too many rapid scene changes that left me wondering who was speaking and where I was terms of both location and time frame. Let me unpack the novel a bit and then give you some specific plusses and minuses.
Carl Bellwin has been a detective for over thirty years and has seen more than his fair share of the nasty underbelly of crime in the city. Now working on the case of a missing girl, the fourth such disappearance, he is beginning to feel as though his life has passed him by since he has virtually been married to his job for years. Now sixty years old, but still fit and healthy, he takes a quick weekend break from the job to attend his nephew’s wedding and meets the innkeeper of the Bliss Inn where he has been booked for his stay.
Elijah Quinta rescued his beloved inn from bankruptcy and revitalized it from top to bottom. He has made it into a luxury hotel complete with a top-rated restaurant and fitness center. But the stress of working endless hours to renovate the place has taken its toll on his love life and his decided workaholic tendencies have left him lonely. When Elijah meets Carl, there is a definite spark—something neither man was looking for and had not really experienced before. Both dominant men in the bedroom and on the job, they tussle briefly in a hot sexual encounter before Carl is called back to the city. But once there, despite his case heating up, he cannot forget his sexy innkeeper and fairly quickly he is longing to be back with him—a very new feeling for Carl.
This story moves rapidly. With a definite insta-love trope as its basis, the mystery of the missing girl is relegated to a mere side story as the romance portion takes the forefront. While Carl starts out very dominant—going as far as to tie and blindfold Elijah on their first sexual encounter, he backs away from that when he realizes that this man is not just a one off, but rather someone he enjoys making love to slowly and completely. Here was my first difficulty with the novel—the dom/sub theme that was thrown into the mix after these guys knew each other all of twenty-four hours was a real stretch. First off, the author is quick to tell us that both Carl and Elijah are Doms and yet Elijah is so overwhelmed with lust for Carl that he not only allows himself to bed a paying customer, but goes as far as to acquiesce to being tied down and blindfolded. I felt that was a tad unbelievable knowing what I do about BDSM and the role of Doms and subs. However, I was willing to let that go until the story started to fall apart in bigger ways.
Carl’s nephew is gay and he and his soon to be husband are featured in another of the Fated Soulmates novels. They are a lovely couple and their wedding is really a highlight of the story overall. However, when the author is unpacking the relationship between Carl and his nephew, he tells us that the nephew first came out to Carl while on a camping trip. Later in the novel, he has the nephew coming out while Carl and he are having pizza together. This kind of inconsistency in the storyline continued the further we got in the novel. The story began to jump from one locale to another, sometimes within the same paragraph. For instance, we would be in the squad room and then suddenly at a crime scene pursuing a lead.
Several times names were substituted by accident. The most notable scene was when Carl returned to the inn for a second visit and the front desk man, Erek, was there as well as Elijah. At first it was Elijah kissing Carl and then suddenly it was Erek? I realized it was just a name substitution after reading the passage twice. Why did I not immediately recognize the problem? That would be because this author had a tendency to have everyone who comes in contact with Carl suddenly getting immediately aroused. So we have a few sentences where both Erek and Elijah are aroused by Carl and then the welcome back kiss that suddenly morphed into a threesome by accident. This happens more than once in the story where names are incorrect and it took me a second to figure out who is doing what.
I felt the numerous editorial problems really diminished what could have been a nice story. Yes it was insta-love and yes it was a bit over the top with all the massive and sudden lust filled bodily reactions these guys seemed to have, but still I liked Carl immensely and felt his character, in particular, deserved the happy ending he got. Unfortunately Two Weeks To Life was in desperate need of a good editor and a bit of rewriting to make it one that would hold together and make sense at the end of the day.