Title: Relative Best
Author: Pat Henshaw
Series: Foothills Pride #5 (can be read as standalone)
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: August 17, 2016
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Book – Relative Best (Foothills Pride #5)
Author – Pat Henshaw
Star Rating: ★★★
No. of Pages – 80
Cover – Nice
POV – 1st person, 1 character
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY DREAMSPINNER PRESS, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Sadly, I have to say that book 5, for me, is my least favorite. There were many reasons for this, but first, let's get the usual problems out of the way. The only thing lacking from this story, that was in every previous story, was the homophobic hate crime element, which was transitioned to a homophobic hate crime of family proportions, not work related.
There was still:
• everyone connected to everyone else
• slipping into present tense and talking to the reader
The insta-love in this book, for me, was just far too surreal. I tolerated most of the previous insta-love stories, because they had a week or two to pretend they'd gotten to know each other off page, but this one happened over night. Literally. There was one particular quote I highlighted that really irked me. I could have believed it if they had known each other more than two days, or rather one night and a half day, and if they'd actually talked to each other about each other, but none of that is true.
“I knew we'd taken a huge step, Vic and me. This wasn't just a random one-night stand.”
Oh, and after a week of separation, there are tears. I just couldn't deal with that. This is the first time that the romance has been wholly, 100% unrealistic and forced for the sake of the length of the story. In the others, there was an attempt to make it look real, but this was too focused on the dilemma with Calvin, not to mention that it too 30% for one evening scene to play out, before they two MC's got into bed, on their second night of knowing each other.
I'm also sad to say that the Native American element didn't sit well with me, either. I got sick of reading about his “adobe-colored” skin, which was the only term, other than 'red clay' used to describe it. There were also instances that came across as very rude, condescending and racist. In particular, I'm thinking about the talk Vic and Zeke had about his heritage:
“You don't act very Native American, considering how you look.”
“Until I started going to a few casinos in the area, I don't think I'd ever met a Native American. So any hocus-pocus and astute Native lore or sayings? You better ask someone else.”
I'm sorry, but having a Native American character saying this stuff doesn't make it sound any less racist or stereotypical.
I also didn't really like the way the two transgender characters were described. Mostly it was about the pronouns used to describe them, but the way they were described here makes it sound like a magical trick rather than the extremely difficult mental and physical transition that it is. This makes it sound much more flip than it needs to be:
“While I was growing up, I'd basically had three granddads until two of them had transformed into women.”
There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes in this one, but I'm letting that pass since it's an ARC.
Overall, however, I just can't really enjoy this story. It's got all the elements that have frustrated me in all previous four books as well as some new ones. The characters are also much more loosely connected to the previous characters, so that I don't even get to see the likes of Jimmy or Fredi that much, to make up for it. For me, this one fell short on too many things, not least of which were uninspiring main characters and an underwhelming plot arc.
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Where to find the author:
Facebook Foothills Pride group: https://www.facebook.com/foothillspride