Book – One Too Many (Mystic Tattoos #1)
Author – Bailey Bradford
Star rating - ★★★☆☆
No. of Pages – 49
Cover – Nice!
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – LGBT, Supernatural, Tattoo, Contemporary
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
I was really looking forward to this one. I've read a few stories by Bailey Bradford before and generally enjoyed them. This one was in the same vein. I liked it, but there was a bit of a pitfall at the end.
I started off really liking the story. The whole “guy gets drunk and wakes up with a stranger” had a new twist and there was a strong, early attempt at chemistry and romance. My problem is that it all happened a little too fast. Sure, snogging a guy on the first meeting isn't awful, especially when he's in your house and you're both attracted to each other. The problem was that it didn't feel organic. It didn't feel natural at all and, it didn't even have that supernatural pull that said it was inescapable.
I found Ed a bit strange. I didn't like the way he and Casey talked about their relationship as though it was some contract to be agreed upon. I mean, Ed basically said that he was interested in Casey only if he wanted to get married someday in the future, without screwing around first. That's a bit heavy for a guy you just met the night before, haven't kissed yet and don't actually know. They had a lot of these over-sharing or too-clinical conversations that sort of spoiled the romance for me.
At 65%, Chapter 8, the story took a dive into the strange and unusual. Ed was in love, but having doubts about Casey's commitment. Then, suddenly, everything happened in a whole heap of over-exaggerated supernatural insta-ness. He had doubts about Casey's commitment that he had never spoken to him about; he thought Casey worked too much, even though Casey had been upfront about his business demands right off the bat; then he found the mysterious tattoo shop, learns about the supernatural and flips out; Casey shows up out of nowhere, for no reason, and somehow manages to find him exactly at a time and place that's convenient to introduce him to the supernatural and voila, everything is perfect. They talk and it's all good and yummy sex.
Everything until then felt well paced and the writing, as usual, was great. But at this point, things stopped making sense. The story just wasn't long enough, at all. Especially since it ended at 85%, to provide an excerpt of another story. That means that everything I just detailed in the paragraph above happened in 20%, yet it took 65% for them to get from meeting to dating, over the course of three months.
The best of it is that I really liked Casey; except that he didn't act at all like a 40-year-old man. He acted more like a 20-something. However, he had a strong sense of self, a good sense of humour and he had a weird but fun family. I would have liked to have seen more of the 'human' side of the characters, in this way, but we never actually saw Ed with anyone but Casey and a brief scene with his boss, despite knowing he had a large family. The disconnect in not liking him so much was probably due to the fact that there was a disproportionate amount of time spent on Casey's POV and characters, while Ed was left out in the cold and only shown as the pushy, relationship-orientated, hold up, doubting-Thomas kind of guy.
I'd have liked more of the relationship, which would probably have doubled the length of the story, but would have felt more natural. Maybe if there had been a resolution to something that required them to work together or argue or something, to create tension or conflict, it might have worked. But it felt more like they met, they dated, they were destined for each other. There was no sign of a problem for them to face or overcome except that one slip at 65% when Ed began having doubts.
Overall, the story was inconsistently paced and rushed towards the end. I would have bought the supernatural element if it had been more slowly revealed. Perhaps with Ed finding out, telling Casey who didn't believe him and then Casey finding out on his own. But it felt far too scripted so that their stop at the tattoo shop was the magical fix for everything in their lives, without either of them having to talk about it or find their own way through the problem.
I'm unsure if I'll be following this series, but I'm still a fan of Bradford's writing. This one just happened too fast for my liking.