Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MMA Romance Week: Unspoken by Jen Frederick

Welcome to day 4 of MMA Romance Week !

Ratings: ★★★ | 270 Pages | Self-Published | New Adult | Woodlands #2 | 11/13/2013

This book was close to a DNF and not because it was bad, but because some sections of this felt so long and unnecessary and I’m not even counting the extended epilogue.

Unspoken is the second in the Woodlands series, I really liked the first one so I eagerly went into book two. I started with the audio, but I didn’t like the new female narrator and decided to just read it. Our heroine is AnnMarie West, a sophomore at Central College who has basically been slut shamed off campus after sleeping with the wrong lacrosse player. When she becomes partners with Beau, the MMA fighting, stud ex-Marine in her science class (stop me if you’ve heard this one) they start a romance with a very, very slow burn.

The romance between the hero and heroine was just okay. I liked the exploration of the idea that a woman who sleeps around is called a slut while a man gets to be a stud. It was interesting to watch the couple work through this and see there relationship evolve --but oh man the daddy issues in this book. Literally everyone has daddy issues.

Much like No Limits by Lori Foster it turns out this really isn’t  much of a fighting book. Beau works out in an MMA gym, but because the owner thinks he lacks the discipline to go pro Beau fights illegally on reservations from time to time. While AnnMarie does witness one of Beau’s fight we never get any of these fights from his point of view.

I do like the way Frederick touches on some of the problematic elements of having a violent hero. It's not something that has come up in the other books.  Beau has a lot of rage issues and at one point when he admits he’s afraid he’s going to hit AnnMarie and it’s kind of reeling, but I like that Frederick examined and fully fleshed it out what that fear means.

Frederick adds a healthy dose of sprinkles on this book. AnnMarie has a black best friend, a gay male neighbor and lesbian neighbor with a black girlfriend. The reason this all really stands out to me is because the first book has a pretty much all white cast and so it felt like she was correcting some of that.

As I mentioned at the top, the version of this book on Scribd had the extended epilogue which covers the next 18 years of the characters lives. At first I thought it was odd, but then I realized it was a lead in to her YA book about AnnMarie and Beau's kids. I kind of liked seeing the future and watching characters realize their dreams. I’ve been reading more self-pub lately and this is what I like about self pub… it’s allows to do something like make your NA into a YA spinoff.

That said, it’s pretty obvious Unspoken takes place in the 2010’s so I’m curious how Frederick negotiates the YA taking place in the late 2020's.

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