Jake Morgan has become a virtual recluse in his home, so much so he is called Mr. Havisham by the members of the local community. This is because five years ago he was jilted at the altar by his husband-to-be, Marc, with no explanation. Now, Jake has placed an advert for general help around his large home and Darius Harrison applies. Darius is jobless and if he doesn’t pay his rent, will be homeless, but he can cook, clean, and tend to the handyman jobs that Jake requires. However, both men are attracted to one another and the situation could become complicated, particularly when Darius does not stay out of the forbidden dining room and the person watching Jake’s home decides to re-enter Jake’s life.
I wanted to read Against Reason because of the Great Expectations connection and I think on this premise it could have been a really good story. Jake is an interesting character. He has been emotionally scarred by his experience with Marc, which is a feeling I am sure readers will sympathize with. Marc left Jake at the altar with a short note so Jake has spent the past few years blaming himself, hating his reflection, and thinking he is not good enough. For me, the fact that he still has his wedding suit in his wardrobe and the state of his dining room reveals that he is not ready to move on. Yet, his physical attraction to Darius is immediate and the contradictions of Jake’s thoughts and feelings are strong enough to confuse us as readers. One minute, Jake is declaring that he wants “someone as attractive as Darius to admire him” and then he states that the end of his relationship with Marc has left him feeling that “he would never again leave himself wide open to such hurt” again.
Scarlet Blackwell imagines Jake as cold, with little confidence, which is why I found his actions at the hospital when he punches someone for calling him “Mr. Havisham” strange. I felt as though the recluse-Jake, who worries about what people think of him, would have walked away cowering and I did not appreciate this dichotomy.
Darius is someone I disliked almost immediately. I think Blackwell attempts to show that his feelings for Jake are genuine, but I could not believe them, unable to get past one of Darius’ earlier statements when he is danger of losing his home:
How could he ask for money on his first day of employment with nothing to recommend his work other than two decent meals? But he thought he had detected a flicker of interest in his boss’s eyes, interest he himself reciprocated. Couldn’t he capitalise on that? It would be a terrible thing to do to an emotionally crippled man like Jake but how else to stop him losing his home?
I desperately wanted Jake to find happiness, but for me, Darius definitely was not the man and my strong dislike for Darius only added to my detachment from the story.
The reappearance of Marc in Jake’s life is an interesting touch to the story and it adds to Jake’s angst, but Marc is another manipulator and I wanted Jake to be able to walk away and find his own happiness.
Against Reason is only a novella, meaning it is short, and I am sure that some readers will enjoy the strong physical attraction between Darius and Jake, though unfortunately, I am unable to recommend this story.