Only One Regret by Ali Katz

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Only One Regret by Ali Katz

Blurb:

Rock musician, Daniel Sanborn, has given his lover, Ramón Alvarez, too many opportunities to practice forgiveness. Their relationship is barely healing from the crisis that was Daniel’s wake-up call when someone from his past walks in to audition for the band.

Melanie is the widow of Josh Taylor, Daniel’s first and greatest love, and the woman who, a dozen years ago, unknowingly stole his lover. When Melanie’s talent proves to be exactly what the band needs to take them in the direction they hope to go, Daniel votes to hire her. Meanwhile, he avoids Ramón’s jealous streak by hiding the depth of his resurrecting emotions.

But since Daniel last saw Melanie at Josh’s funeral, she has come unhinged. She never smiles, and she talks to her dead husband when she thinks no one is listening. Daniel shrugs it off to eccentricity and grief—

Until Josh’s ghost makes an appearance!

Apparently, Daniel and Josh have unfinished business, and not the kind Daniel feels comfortable sharing with Ramón. As far as Daniel is concerned, that past is as dead as Josh himself. But Josh’s ghost, however, has other ideas. Daniel’s twelve-year-old secrets could be the last straw for Ramón, but keeping them buried might prove impossible…

 

 

Review:

As you can tell from the blurb, that’s everything that happened in the book – for the most part. This blurb is an example of telling too much and giving away every clue about both the storyline and the characters before even needing to read the extended novella. However, there are a few significant aspects of the book the blurb conveniently forgot, which added to my overall disturbed feeling after reading the book and this author has slid onto my "never read again" list.

Daniel is a bit of a playboy as a member of what I can only presume is a well known rock group. The details regarding the rock group and other members are scarce at best except with references to Daniel’s past infidelities and ubiquitous bad behavior. Daniel apparently has been sober and monogamous to his lover, Ramon, for almost a year now after a tabloid article brought to light several of his bad deeds. Daniel is a complex character that is given only hints of dimension instead a fully realized character and was frustrating for that. Daniel’s past with his ex-lover Josh gives a glimpse into rough sex and BDSM games that Daniel craved at the time, but while he claims to have moved past these urges, they clearly linger beneath the surface. Daniel has some commitment issues as well as needing more closure from problems that occurred in his former relationship with Josh, however, these issues center more on the person Daniel was at that time rather than a lingering desire for his ex-lover.

Due to the story being told exclusively from Daniel’s voice with the plot revolving around the appearance/disappearance of Josh as well as glimpsing at the ongoing relationship between Daniel and Ramon, most of the characters are only given a cursory glance without creating truly three dimensional personalities. Ramon is a hot, spicy and loving partner to Daniel. He is willing to work beyond his own issues of jealousy and anger due to Daniel’s past actions and attempt to focus on their future together while truly loving Daniel and accepting him as he is, however imperfect. Ramon unfortunately is mostly seen as a support system for Daniel, both emotionally in their relationship and professionally as a video producer. Ramon would have worked better as a character if there was slightly more focus paid to him.

Melinda, Josh’s widow, is pale and frightened for the majority of the book. Daniel wonders early on where the submissive side of Melinda hides, yet that side dictates Melinda’s personality and actions in all aspects. Clearly the BDSM dynamic was active and integral in Josh and Melinda’s marriage, which causes Daniel to be oblivious. However, that lack of insight and perception seems to be a common characteristic for most of the story’s cast. Melinda is refreshing in that she is neither a sex symbol or a snarky best friend, nor a bitchy ex-wife. She is a beloved widow who had no part in the wrongs done to Daniel and is struggling to cope the best she can.

The ghost of Josh was my biggest problem with the book in that he is a selfish and demeaning ghost, able to use “energy” from people to take on a corporal form and assault others. This was one of the big problems I had with the book in that Josh repeatedly rapes Daniel. These are not romantic non-consensual scenes where one of the participants actually comes to like the forceful treatment. Josh physically restrains Daniel, forcing his body to respond while Daniel’s mind screams at the invasion and tears course down his face. His repeated struggles against the rapes are difficult to read, especially in light that there is no reason for the assault. The rape scenes could be deleted from the book entirely without any impact on the storyline. Although the author leaves hints throughout the book of unresolved issues, the final resolution sheds no more light on these issues. The most we’re told is that Josh and Daniel had a BDSM relationship, which is the implied justification for the rapes, when Josh decided to marry Melinda and expected to keep Daniel on the side. Why that was so complicated and difficult to spell out, I’m not sure. The author kept hinting at it as if this resolution was a big reveal and essential to Josh, the ghost, moving on.

The resolution was disturbing in that everyone wants Daniel to forgive Josh and remember the good times they had, ignoring the paranormal rape that Daniel has suffered repeatedly and ultimately Josh’s horrible treatment of Daniel. Since Daniel has moved on, he has to forgive Josh to allow the ghost to leave and everyone urges Daniel to basically get over it. One of the confusing aspects is Daniel has gotten over that relationship. He has moved on and while he may have lingering desires for domination, he is very happy and satisfied in his current relationship. He has no desire to go back in time whatsoever. Clearly Josh still loved Daniel and wanted him, beyond his marriage and death, so if anyone needed to move on its Josh. Yet that doesn’t really happen either as Daniel eventually forgives his ex-lover and Josh disappears.

The pacing of the story is rather quick so the plot and characters move along swiftly, making this an easy read up until the scenes of unnecessary rape. While non-consensual sex doesn’t bother me outright, the repeated use of such with a thin justification of a prior BDSM relationship is disturbing. The story ended up with a thin plot to connect the characters without a full developed plot. For those who are looking for a well-written paranormal romance, I’d pass this one by.


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