Review: Kayson by Jenny Wood

kaysonRating: 3.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

Conner owns the bookstore on a street lined with little shops, and he’s been eyeing the new tattoo place across the way. He doesn’t really know much about Kennedy Ink, but he knows he’s attracted to one of the owners, Kayson. When an irate patron punches Conner, Kayson and crew come to the rescue, and Conner and Kayson finally meet.

Though Kayson, his brother, and their makeshift family are new in town, they are quickly learning what life in small town Georgia is all about. And Kayson finds himself inexplicably attracted to Conner. After a few false stars, they eventually end up on a date and things go well. They don’t even let a homophobic patron ruin their night.

Kayson and Conner get quickly attached to one another, and their relationship progresses quickly. But someone is after Conner, making threats, and when Conner’s life is danger, Kayson might just lose him forever.

challenge month 2017 copySo for Self Published Book Week, I took a chance on a book that’s been floating around on my radar for several months. I always admire authors who go the self publish route, and I know it’s not an easy one. While there are some glaring errors and issues with this book, I think Wood does an decent job with the story as a whole.

First things first. The author let us know that this book, and the series as a whole, is about to go through reediting. Hopefully this will take care of the copious punctuation errors, the occasional tense shift, and a few other small issues with word choices. So I’m not basing my review on those issues at all.

What I really liked about the story were the two MCs. Conner is a geeky bookstore owner, and he’s a small town boy, born and raised. He’s got a southern charm that appeals, and his narrative has a sort of a stream of consciousness, telling a story feel that works well for the character. The author uses dialect and slang native to Georgia, so it really grounds the story as a whole in the place.

Kayson is a little more worldly, having lived in California and now residing in the small town of Madison to be closer to his family. This includes his brother and their crew, who all work at the tattoo shop with him. There’s a nice balance of created family in there, along with blood relatives. Kayson is a little confused about his attraction to Conner at first, but he rolls with it. And the two of them are very sweet together. Conner seems, at times, a little younger than he should. But Kayson’s protectiveness is nice to see and I enjoyed them both. Their chemistry sparked, even if it really never caught fire, so their relationship was nice, if not explosive.

The story is told in alternating first person. For Conner, I think it worked pretty well, as he had a charm about him I enjoyed. But Kayson wasn’t distinctive enough when it was his turn, and I had trouble remembering who was speaking, often having to backtrack to get a clue and remind myself whose head we were in. So I definitely had some trouble with that.

The plot didn’t work as well for me either. On the whole, it’s a little over the top, and takes things a step too far on occasion. By that, I mean, there isn’t enough development on some of the points to really make the story believable. The pacing is off throughout the story as well. There are points throughout where it slows down too much, or conversely, goes too fast. The ending left something to be desired, as a big thing happens and then we are told of the resolution over a couple of paragraphs. So I found it dissatisfying, and really wanted to see the events play out. The uneven plot and pacing really brought down this story for me. I couldn’t really engage in the story, and that made it harder for me to enjoy.

All in all, the book was pretty much a mixed bag. While some parts worked, a lot left to be desired. If you’re a big fan of small town southern charm, and alternating first person narrative, then you might want to give this book a second look after it is re-edited.

This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of seven fabulous prize packs from an amazing group of self published authors. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Self Published Book Week here, including a list of all the prizes being offered this week. And check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes offered this month!

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  1. I picked Captive by Jex Lane for this week, but I have read this also, so here is what I think.

    The first book is just a sweet love story. Some people might call it instalove, but I disagree; I reserve that term for love at first sight/forever fated mates when there is no other character development and this does take the time for them to get to know each other. Yes, it goes fast but sometimes you just know–I did. Anyway, I’ve thought a lot about this and I know this is only supposed to be for the first book, but the first and second book are written in the same time period and should be read together for maximum enjoyment, so I will tell you why you may or may not want to buy the next book, without spoilers.

    I will talk about self published authors, writing style, grammar, and yes, typos. I see talent in this author and the second book was even better and made me cry. I am willing to forgive a lot, just for that. It seems like she made more of an effort with the first book, but the issues in her writing are well illustrated in the epilogue for the first book. In a foreword, the author says that she is not writing in a lazy way and these are not typos, this is just the way Southern people talk. The issue with that is: if she wants to use a small town, Georgian thought process as a writing style she can only do that with the characters that are from Georgia. The Georgian way of speaking evolved from the Scot/Irish cadence and ungrammatical way of congegating verbs and sentence construction–meaning the verb tense doesn’t always match and some words feel as though they are missing. She created Kayson, Kingsley, and Jace as college educated men from California. She writes in first person POV switching back and forth between the characters chapter by chapter. Do you see the problem? In another foreword, she says typos happen (y’all are just being mean.) Yep, she doubled-down.

    So to Jenny I would say, I like your books and your characters. I was college educated in California. I am Southern and have lived in southern Georgia. I have been to Madison. The reason I like your books is that I know people like this who live in Georgia; even the plot of the third book (which some might consider over the top) could have been written about people I have known. I am not sure how I could be a more suitable target audience for these books. Now for some tough love because I want you to succeed. I am not a troll; I am not being mean, nasty or negative (which you talk about before and after each book.) I have forgiven you all the things–except the excuses and the doubling-down. If you need help with grammar, take a class. You need better proofreading. I can make all the typos and sentence contruction errors I want, because I am not calling myself a writer and expecting people to pay for my work. Stop making excuses, learn your craft and/or pay a professional to help you, and your books will be great instead of just good–otherwise people deserve to know that you don’t care about those things so they can make an informed decision on how to spend their money.

    I am glad these are being reedited! Now the name of the town is different!
    Aargh! The description of a character from one book to another doesn’t match or make sense.

    *Pulls. Hair. Out.*

  2. I’ve seen these books in my Amazon recs, so it’s good to get a better picture of them. I will take a chance with new authors, but my massive TBR pile is causing me to be a little more selective these days.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts but I will most likely pass on this particular one. I’m usually disappointed with novellas because IMO most authors have a difficult time creating the right balance of backstory, world building, & resolutions to suit me.

  4. Thanks for your review, Kris, and for highlighting both the positive and negative about this particular book. I can identify with your thoughts, Lennis; I’m sometimes amazed at the errors I see in books (and not just the self-published ones!).

  5. I remember that i just read a really intens book and i was about to read (what i assume would be) a very emotional book so i picked up a lighter short book for inbetween and for clearing my mind. Kayson by Jenny Wood was the one i picked for that and i must admit it wasn’t a great book but it wasn’t really bad so a bit of mixed feelings on this book for me too. Thank you for your review

  6. Thanks for the review Kris. I do like Southern Charm but I will pay attention to the things you said didn’t work for you. So I’ll know what to expect.

  7. Bronwyn Heeley says:

    Hm, I like series or books that centre around tattoo parlours. I’m def going to look into it and hope the reediting does it justice 

  8. Thanks for the review. I read the blurb last week and thought it sounded pretty good. At this point I think I’ll just wait a while to see how the re edit turns out. 🙂

  9. I’ve not read a book by Jenny Wood yet. I have to say this does appeal to me though. I like seeing a bookish character (bookstore owner, writers, etc) in any book I give a read.

  10. Thank you for your review.

  11. Hopefully down the line there’ll be other books of Wood’s that come together a bit better. Being able to write an engaging character is definitely a step in the right direction, even if the plot and pacing need some work. 

  12. thank you for the review, Kris. This book is in my TBR list, because I hava a soft spot for books dealing with bookshops or taking place mainly in libraries… I think I have a book kink! LOL! It does sound good to me, so I’ll give it a try

  13. I do generally like both bookshop stories and tattoo stories, but between the novella length and the poor editing I’m afraid I must pass on this one.

  14. Denise Dechene says:

    This was recommended to me by Amazon. after reading another authors inked series. I picked it up and liked it. I agree with the 3.25 rating. It’s a good book for a quick not in depth read. I didn’t mind the alternating POV. But there were some major editing issues that I am glad are being taken care of.

  15. Not sure it’s for me, but I may reconsider after the edits…

  16. Purple Reader says:

    Thanks for the honest review, Kris. Yeah, like others have said, there a few aspects that make me think twice about this, and that’s why your review is helpful. I also am not keen about novellas, and uneven plot and pace (which I might find ok in character studies, but a rom?). And then the editing issues make it sound more like work than a fun read.

  17. Thanks for this detailed review. I think I will give this one a pass.

  18. Thanks for the review. I’ve heard great things about this series. I look forward to check it but I’m going to wait until the re-release.

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