Guest Reviewed by Morgan
Title: A Package Deal
Author: Mia Kerick
Narrator: Sean Michael Hogan
Heroes/Heroine: Robby Dalton, Savannah Meyers and Tristan Chartrand
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: Book – 265 Pages/Audio – 8 hours, 20 Minutes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Book – October 31, 2013/Audio – July 29, 2014
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Audible and iTunes
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Robby Dalton is the perfect all-American boy. He played the sports his father chose for him in high school, attended the college his father selected, and has worked hard to conform to his father’s macho views. But emotionally, he doesn’t fit anywhere, and he can’t connect with a woman beyond a few uninspired dates.
Robby’s not in the closet, because he’s never guessed he’s gay. Now he owns a small commercial construction company, and one night after work, he runs into Savannah Meyers. He finds her fascinating and agrees to a date, thinking maybe this woman would be different.
But Savannah has her own agenda. She is looking for a love match for her roommate, Tristan Chartrand, whom she rescued from the streets years ago. He’s like a brother, and her only family, so she wants him safe and happy. Her plan seems to begin well, because when Robby meets Tristan, he’s surprised to find it’s Tristan he wants, not Savannah.
But some people in Robby’s life don’t approve of Tristan’s lowly station in life, and some don’t approve of Robby being gay. Some people are full of hate and violence, and Robby and Tristan will need courage and strength if a loving future is to be part of the deal.
Review – Book:
Tristan had a horrible childhood, then he was kicked out and lived on the street and that was horrible, too. He found a friend in Savannah and now works as a waiter and is living with Savannah as her roommate, in the same bed, but platonically.
Robby led the life of an all-American guy and is now working at his own construction firm and seems to be happy enough but can’t seem to find the right woman. Then, at the urging of his friend Mickey, he meets and begins to date Savannah. Savannah hits all his buttons, but doesn’t come to any of their dates alone. She brings along Tristan, who also seems to hit Robby’s buttons, even though Robby doesn’t identify as gay.
Though it’s all terribly confusing, Savannah, Tristan and Robby date one another for awhile until it becomes clear that Robby and Tristan are ready for their part of the relationship to get physical. Savannah bows out and leaves the boys to it.
Though the relationship between Tristan and Robby is satisfying, Robby won’t admit to his friends or family he’s gay and that causes a lot of trouble. For a day. Then Robby eschews friends and family in favor of Tristan and a happily ever after ensues.
If that didn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The book doesn’t make a lot of sense. The relationship between Robby and Tristan is weird. The relationship between Savannah and Tristan is weird. The relationship between Savannah and Robby is weird. And I can’t even tell you what the thing between all three of them was. Can it be a triad when one only is a friend, who sleeps in the same bed and holds your hand?
There is so much wrong with this book I almost don’t know where to begin. It started out intriguing: Robby not knowing he was gay, Savannah helping both boys out by acting as intermediary. Neat idea. But she doesn’t leave. Tristan is afraid to proceed without her and fancies himself in love with her, but unable to perform sexually due to his past.
Robby wants to get it on with Savannah – he thinks – or maybe just Tristan – but he’s not gay – ok he is gay–what?
The story was jarring. The characters spoke in a way that was strange and acted in a way that never made logical sense. Robby’s father asks him “Did you take up on my suggestion to hook up with that nice fellow, Michael, and paint the town red last night?” Huh? Is this 1950?
In fact, Robby’s homophobic dad was the only consistent character in the book. He hated “fags” at the beginning and never came around to thinking differently.
Mickey, Robby’s best friend, acts as wingman for Robby to meet Savannah, then beats the crap out of Tristan when he finds out he’s gay, but manages to remain Robby’s employee because Tristan won’t let Robby fire him, then cries in his beer because Robby isn’t his friend anymore then cries again when Robby finally gets the stones to fire him. Weird.
I never understood Savannah’s motivation. She tells the boys, “Just when you guys think about me, no matter where I am, I want you to think of me as yours, like I matter to you.” The boys wait to have sex til Savannah gives them her written blessing to do so. Bizarre.
Tristan loves Robby and tells him he is ready to move forward in a sexual relationship but then immediately freaks out because he can never be sure he trusts Robby or any man ever. Right after they have sex, Tristan thinks “No man had ever gained my trust. Not even Robby.” Great.
Robby denies Tristan is his boyfriend to his family, spends the night on the streets, then has a come-to-Jesus moment and tells Dad and Mickey to go to hell all in 24 hours.
Another distraction was the constant interruptions in the flow of the story for snippets of the past being told. I get that it can be a lot to just dump the backstory in one fell swoop, but the times when we are fed bits of Tristan’s or Savannah’s pasts didn’t necessarily have any relevance to what was going on currently and took me out of the story.
Another negative for me was the sex. It was essentially a fade to black or 1950s romance style sex that started hot and heavy and then ended with “we took each other to a place I’m certain neither of us had ever before been in the company of another human being”. That in itself is fine, but strange given this is not a YA book (at least not how it’s billed) and since the book feels comfortable discussing rape and prostitution. I’m sure the author had artistic motivation for this, I just don’t know what it was.
I just never really bought into the entire pseudo-three-way relationship and never felt Tristan actually trusted Robby, nor did I swallow Robby’s too-fast conversion to gay.
I liked the premise but the blurb really doesn’t do the book justice. Based on the above, I can’t recommend this book.
Book Impression: I wasn’t feeling it.
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*
Review – Audio:
Sean Michael Hogan does a fine job. His voice is nice and clear. He has a cute little Canadian (?) accent and the sound quality was good.
He didn’t try to do any voices and so he mostly blurred into the background, making it easy to focus on the book itself (unfortunately in this case).
I liked his performance and though I wouldn’t search out his work specifically, I wouldn’t avoid it either.
Narration Impression: I liked it
Overall Impression: It was okay
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*