Behind Closed Doors -- Shannon McKenna
Book 1 of McClouds and Friends series
The extra half a star I'm giving it has to do with two things:
1) It had a strong start with an intriguing premise in the beginning.
2) The ending was decent and the characters managed to make me stop being angry for the last few moments.
Of course, that stuff was too little too late. Because everything else in between either pissed me off or didn’t make enough sense for me to bother paying attention to it. Because this is also the second time ever that I’ve skimmed and skipped ahead past a lot of scenes and chapters that may or may not have been important. My only goal was to get to the end of the book.
I don’t like doing that, because I don’t want to miss any chance that something good will come about… but I CAN get bored and I WILL stop paying attention to what I’m reading sometimes when I book starts to drift downhill. And skipping ahead is something I really, really DO NOT like doing if I can help it.
Why I put myself through that when I could have just stopped reading is a mystery to me.
Where do I even begin?
As I already said: the story had a good, intriguing premise. Even the writing was smooth and good. But the characters managed to frustrate me to no end. And then I'm not even sure that there was much of a story to go on either. Also, the romance and the psychobabble and individual monologues between our main characters took up a lot of unnecessary space.
The book got frustrating really fast.
I just couldn't get past how angry I'd become at both Raine Cameron (aka Katya Lazar) and Seth Mackey. On a subconscious level, maybe the two of them deserve each other, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about how the romance played out and the types of characters they were presented as.
Raine has absolutely no sense of self-respect as a woman. This may sound like an extreme declaration, but she spends the entire book practically letting everyone walk all over her. She gets treated like some sort of product and reacts like a doormat despite the many, many, many, many references in monologue and others’ dialogue about how she’s changed, and she’s strong, and she can stand up to people, and she won’t stand there and let people push her around.
There were probably two moments in the entire book where she DOES exhibit a backbone and one of them was at the very end of the book when all the conflict is over and done with. But I say that Raine has no sense of self-respect as a woman, not because she’s a doormat, because men can be doormats too, but because of the way she allows Seth to treat her like a sex object to be owned rather than a human being.
Because Seth is a pushy, manipulative asshole; and he's abusive. And then he hides behind his “I’m socially dysfunctional” excuses. Aside from that, he’s got no other personality.
Which brings me to the romance which was just as dysfunctional as Seth’s behavior. Is Raine so deprived of love and romance in her life that she would readily let a neanderthal like Seth Mackey treat her like his personal plaything with no dignity? How do you even fall in love with a man who has no consideration for what you think or what you say?
Then again, Raine isn’t exactly a non-crazy entity in this relationship either--as many others have pointed out, she flashes hot and cold in this romance and it gets really confusing trying to figure her out.
Meanwhile, I’m seething about the development about the romance because it’s not a romance, it’s just a dysfunctional relationship where a man forces himself on a woman and the woman can’t figure out whether or not she wanted him to do it in the first place. Still, I’ve come to the conclusion that Seth is an abusive asshole.
Because when a woman says "Stop it!" and tries to wriggle free after a man practically drags her onto the floor with him in a surprise attack, and the jackass STILL continues to attempt to have sex with her, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that he's forcing her... And THAT is NOT okay.
Why did Raine have to feel bad about slapping Seth in the face when he wouldn’t stop trying to rip her clothes off after she tells him to stop? Why did she have to feel bad for being upset with him when she walks into her own home to find him sitting there after he had broken into said home? Why does she not run fast and far away from him when he continues to sit there, acting like he owns her and her ever action? Why does she still come running back to him even after he forces himself on her in the backseat of his car, then unceremoniously kicks her out of said car, all but commanding her to go home and wait for him to come to her later?
Of course, since Seth "knows" that Raine "wants" to be forced and "wants" to be pushed, then that makes everything okay, right? Because Seth Mackey isn't just a security specialist and a walking thug of an asshole, he's also psychic (sarcasm intended).
And you know, since he's being completely and utterly honest with her about how he has no social skills and doesn't know how NOT to push, then it just makes every fine and dandy.
But no. It is NOT okay. Not even one little bit.
If Seth Mackey weren't supposedly a good-looking, mysteriously attractive sex god, would Raine have allowed him to get away with his behavior? This is just another case of a romance novel glorifying the justification of a broody alpha male's inappropriate behavior by slapping on a caveat that it's okay because he's good-looking and sexy and "has his reasons for acting the way he does”--which usually equate to Daddy Issues™, a traumatic childhood, or just an inadequate ability to act like a human being masked as a simple “Just not socially good with life and people in general so I do what I want and fuck everyone else!”
Again, if this man weren't good-looking and sexy, would people be drawing the same opinions? That it’s okay for a man like this to act like a jackass and exhibit less than socially acceptable behavior--nay, dangerous behavior--just because he happens to have reasons?
You can have an alpha male be broody with problems without him being an utter asshole. An alpha male does not have to be the pushy arrogant type who only knows how to man-handle a woman he's attracted to. In fact, being a good man who respects his women's wishes doesn't make him any less of an alpha; any less of a man. It bothers me that some people think that an alpha male has to simply be a controlling, looming presence who gets what he wants whenever he wants, even at the expense of the woman who doesn't want it.
Anyway... I may or may not read more books in this series since I've noted other reviewers mentioning certain McCloud brothers being better and others of the McClouds & Friends books being far better than this one. So obviously I chose the wrong one to start with (damn me and my penchant for reading everything in order). Seth did get better as the book progressed and Raine did grow somewhat of a backbone by the end of the book.
Then again, this book's got tons of glowing five-star reviews... so maybe the content and the triggers in this book just sit less (much less) well with me than it does with everyone else?