2 out of 4 stars
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Rarely if ever you can find a romance novel that begins with a funeral. Even the ancient Greeks set Eros in opposition to Thanatos. It is hard to imagine more opposite things than love and death.
Nonetheless, the book Heartaches, written by H. M. Irving, begins with a description of the funeral of the main character's stepfather. Her name is Anna Walters-Simmons, and she does not really suffer much from the loss of her “second father”. After all, John Simmons was a cruel and violent tyrant who abused Anna and her mother.
After the death of her stepfather, the real problems in the life of poor Anna are just beginning. It’s not enough that the death of old Simmons looked very much like a murder, but his son from his first marriage, Brian, whom Anna suspects of this murder, suddenly decides to settle with her and her mother in Melbourne. She has to live under one roof with a possible parricide. But everything turns out to be even worse for Anna when her boyfriend Matt Preston, with the help of his criminal family, pulls her into a disgusting story, which includes drugs, humiliation and rape. Fortunately, Rafael Luis Brown (abbreviated as Rafe), the nephew of her mother’s fellow acquaintance, comes to Anna’s rescue. Together they are trying to punish criminals and restore justice.
There are no grammatical errors or typos in the book. Heartaches is very well edited and written in a completely literary language. The reader can immediately discern that its author is a professional writer. After the first chapters, which describe the misfortunes of the unfortunate Anna, the plot becomes quite complex and little predictable, so this novel is quite interesting to read.
As for the characters, Anna at first looks weak, incredibly naive, and allows her offenders to play her along so easily that it simply causes surprise. However, her frightening naivety can be explained by the fact that she is only 18 years old, and she is practically a teenager. In addition, she was raised by the same weak and gullible mother who could neither put Anna’s cruel stepfather in his place nor divorce him, and for years endured his ill-treatment.
Rafael Luis Brown, aka Rafe, seems at first glance to be a very boring character. He joined the military, had a tour of combat duty in Syria and returned to Australia, where the plot of the book unfolds, shortly before the events described in it. Such a biography immediately makes the reader remember the cliche of a military hero. That kind of cliche is so overused in fiction and cinema that it almost scares with its egregious banality. Usually this hero fights in a some restive region, then returns to his homeland and does not adapt well to peaceful life. Faced with a certain injustice at his homeland, he begins to fight the bad guys and defeats them. Nevertheless, in the history of Rafe there is one strange twist that gives this shabby long-term use of the cliche fresh and new features. Suchlike military heroes have not yet appeared in any book or movie.
Unfortunately, there is one big flaw in Heartaches. Although the book says a lot about how hard it is for rape victims to get their complaints addressed and finally have criminals punished, some scenes look as if the author likes to describe these crimes in detail. The problem is that such a granularity in describing serious crimes may not appeal to all readers. Therefore, I give this novel 2 out of 4 stars. This book should not be read by children under the age of 18, because it contains many curses and obscene scenes. However, unusual plot twists and rapid development make it a rather entertaining reading.
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