While I like the St. Nacho’s series a lot, I’m not really happy with the turn it’s taken. Of course that could just be me but this book felt disjointed, rushed, and totally scattered. There wasn’t one consistent theme running throughout the book and the characters seemed to change randomly with whatever emotion they needed to express. I quite liked Daniel and Cam from the previous book but I couldn’t stand either one of them in Book of Daniel. They’re selfish, cruel, totally unforgiving, and would change at the drop of a hat. The book feels like it didn’t know exactly what direction to go but threw a few themes and concepts to see what sticks.
This time around is Jake’s brother Daniel, who was in a horrific car accident at the end of the last book. Now he and firefighter Cam are circling around each other, but not really. Daniel starts the book by making some snarky comments to Cam while trying to hide his attraction. Cam for his part calls Daniel a bunch of names and basically says he’s the scum of the earth. But that tension doesn’t really go anywhere as soon enough Daniel and Cam get together sexually. Cam waivers back and forth several times, never giving Daniel a break and assuming the worst about him each time. Daniel for his part accepts and even admits he’s a horrible person each and every time. Throw in some random side plots about Dan’s ex-wife and his father with a super rushed, everything tied up ending and that’s it.
Of course that’s a huge simplification but that’s how disjointed and random this offering feels. First the various subplots don’t meld together in any meaningful way. There is Jake and JT’s wedding that Dan is sketchy about but he comes around instantly, after he’s thoroughly lashed by everyone. There is the ex-wife subplot, which I truly hated on every level. She’s portrayed as a huge bitch in the beginning then comes around entirely to save Dan and be a figure of almost angelic niceness. It makes no sense except it helps create a temporary tension point that I didn’t understand and leave a nice ending for Dan. The father issues again were perplexing. They had some great potential to get into a real issue and something Dan could use to grow and change but it felt too quick, too wrapped up and only there to provide yet another time when Cam could call Dan names, run away and then come right back after Dan grovels.
This leads me to the problem with characterization. It isn’t consistent nor does it make much sense. Cam alternates between complacent acceptance of Dan to assuming the worst and running away. Yet I guess the sex is too good because Cam always comes back. It kind of makes no sense that Cam would be so disconnected and willing to think the worst of Dan. Dan practically and verbally lays his heart out constantly to Cam, yet that seems to have no affect. I think the story was trying to show that since Dan lies so easily it’s his actions not his words that matter but no one, not even his brother Jake, gives him any credit for anything. He can’t even do something nice without people jumping on him, which got old pretty quickly.
Jake and Dan seem to alternate as well since Dan constantly talks himself down but all of his horrible behavior must have happened in his life prior to the book. In this story, Dan is a near saint always working hard to prove himself and any small misstep is leapt upon and crucified. I like the idea of Dan being a not good person who is reformed and now worthy of love but I never got the impression he was a horrible person, only that he and everyone else thought so. Additionally Jake comes across as judgmental, cruel, and often annoying. This is a change from his character in the first book and I couldn’t understand his actions towards Dan. They didn’t seem like those of a loving brother at all.
The writing is decent and Maxfield knows how to bring St. Nacho’s to life. I really liked that someone didn’t fit there for once and made it work. There are a few editing mistakes of switched names but otherwise mostly clean. Unfortunately while the writing is good, the story jumps around without enough explanations to really work. Dan’s four months away make no sense nor does his sudden return. The back and forth and leaps in time seem arbitrary and so the story never settled into a grove that makes you want to read, at least for me. Having said that I’ll still buy and read whatever Maxfield writes so this one will likely just be the one miss in a solid series.