2 out of 4 stars
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Heartaches 2 by HM Irving is the second book in the Bad Boy Vibes series, consisting of genres ranging from romance, drama, friendship, and family with a high emphasis on romance. Before starting this review, I will start off with a blanket warning for this entire book: if you’re uncomfortable with rape, this is probably not the book for you. This book doesn’t delve into the heinous act – which sounds like a spoiler, but I feel is important for people to know about before they read it – but does mention it often.
The story is a continuation of the previous book in the series. It revolves around Anna Simmons and Rafe Brown's lives together in Australia while they battle through the aftermath of rape while once more coming face to face with their respective attackers and uncovering secrets about their family. Throughout the story, we see a balance of their emotional turmoil and a love that helps them find the light once more.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. It was an enjoyable and easy read, but it isn’t something I’ll be picking up again. While I loved the concept of the story, I didn't enjoy the writing in the beginning and I didn't like one of the main characters. The author had no qualms about delving in the dark parts of such a sensitive subject and showing us how it affected both main characters. While they excelled at emotion, the author fell short on descriptions. I ended the book wondering what the characters looked like aside from eyes. The description of setting, character, scenes, etc. was quite underwhelming in the book with the sole exception being sex.
A quarter of the book seemed to talk about their eye colors (the other quarter of the book was about sex, if anyone wondered). I kept notes as I read the story about things I saw in it that I liked or disliked, but by chapter eight, I was tired of listing “frequent use of eye color like ‘Green eyes followed his movements’” on it. Thankfully, as the story went on, those seemed to lessen. They didn’t disappear entirely, but as the story delved into the plot, they became less noticeable.
Redundancy isn’t limited to eye color either. The beginning of the story was setting the scene for the character’s dark stories, but there was a high amount of words used to make it sound gritty. Darkness is referenced a few times, especially in chapters one through five and almost always when we’re seeing Rafe’s thought processes. A specific example of word redundancy would be in the prologue/chapter one. We see texts where movement is described as “urgently, hurriedly” within the same sentence and “the bulk of him […] the weight of his bulk”. Issues like this made the story feel over-the-top.
Character wise, I disliked the main character, Rafe. The entire story, I’m never given a reason to doubt his love for Anna, but he seems to doubt her love for him. He’s constantly jealous about men even making eye contact with her and he is supremely jealous of Anna’s best friend, Pat. Pat is a gay man who has no interest in Anna and most of the time just ogles Rafe instead, but Rafe constantly questions Anna about her intentions. He would get mad if Anna and Pat were alone together or if they said a platonic “I love you” in a way that was possessive and unattractive yet not ever called out in the story. Poor Anna didn’t deserve to constantly appease his jealousy nor did their friend Pat deserve the constant suspicion.
There were also instances where the couple were fighting and Rafe would grab her shoulders to shake her. This wasn’t ever questioned or rallied against in the story and it baffles me that Anna and/or other characters just ignored it. I didn’t think it was something that should be normalized. Both actions made Rafe a lot more unattractive and that’s part of why my rating is so low for what was otherwise a fun read.
Short of Rafe, the other characters were quirky, fun, and dramatic. The plot was interesting, but I felt like the story did a lot of build up towards the end only for us to slam into a cliffhanger that left the story feeling half finished. Regardless, the ending set us up for what sounds like an exciting next book! I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys romance and drama. If you're uncomfortable around mentions of rape, possessive/jealous men, and lots of sex as a solution to problems, then I don't recommend this story.
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