Title: Dearly Stalked
Author: Allison Cassatta
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 266 Pages
At a Glance: On the whole, I enjoyed this book; it is an interesting read.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Writing crime novels catapulted Memphis native Silas Cooper to fame and fortune, but when his words backfire and he becomes trapped in what could be one of his books, he needs a hero of his own.
Silas’s publicist insists he hire a personal assistant, and Silas chooses Scott Kramer. But before Scott starts, he already has a round of steamy phone sex to hold over Silas’s head, and his interest in his boss isn’t decreasing.
Benjamin Logan joined the Army to see the world, and while deployed he read every one of Silas’s books. With his military career over, Ben is back in Memphis working for the police department—and attempting a deeply closeted relationship with fellow cop Morgan Brown.
Over coffee, Silas and Ben become friends who support each other as relationships fall apart, and the attraction between them slowly emerges. When a dangerous stalker threatens Silas, it’s up to Ben to stop him.
If Ben fails, Silas might not live to tell this story… and Ben might not be able to live with himself.
Review: Silas Cooper writes crime drama. Real, gritty, psychological killers are his forte. In actuality, he is a bit of a nerd, a homebody who often forgets to eat, sleep or shower when he is in the middle of story. He can be a little naive despite the genre he writes. He is totally self-absorbed, so when his publicist encourages him to hire an assistant so that he can have a life outside his passion, he doesn’t put much thought into it, seeing it as a disturbance of his muse. Scott has been a fan, a true devotee to Silas’ work—he longs to be more than just an assistant to the brilliant writer but can’t seem to make Silas feel the same depth of emotion he does.
Ben Logan is a closeted cop. He’s conflicted, carries around a lot of pent up emotion, but ultimately, has a surprising capacity to love. Ben still has mental and physical issues from his military service. His decision to become a cop after leaving the military had a lot to do with the crime dramas penned by his favorite author, Silas Cooper. His relationship with fellow cop Morgan is a good one—not a great one—but for the first time in forever, Ben has opened himself up to loving another man. Ben’s relationship with Morgan is vital to who Ben is since it is through this relationship that he really comes to terms with being gay and accepting himself. These are issues which he had to work through to be able to move forward when he and Morgan break up, and Silas comes into his life more significantly.
This book really has three acts. The first act involves establishing the characters in their careers, establishing them as individuals and noting how they act in interpersonal relationships. In this part of the book, Ben begins a relationship with a fellow cop, and Silas begins a relationship with his new assistant. The only contact our main characters have with each other are chance encounters. They meet and diverge almost like struck billiard balls, making an impact in each other’s lives but then carried away by their outward momentum.
The second act begins the tension. The stalking and crumbling of the MCs’ individual lives. The tension begins when Silas’ assistant starts to take over his life. Cutting Scott from his life seems like the obvious course of action for Silas, but then things start happening to him that remind him of one of his stories. Who could be behind the break-ins and creepy messages? Silas starts to only feel safe when in the presence of his policeman friend, Ben. But Ben is having troubles of his own, conflicted about his feelings for his boyfriend and unsure of a relationship that lacks a good degree of trust.
The third act is when the MCs come together, conflicts get resolved, and a HEA is established. Ben and Silas lean on each other, discovering the way they feel is bigger than the circumstances they find themselves in.
“’It’s over.’ Ben whispered. The End, Silas thought. A horrible chapter in his life’s book had finally come to a close. A review would call it wordy and gratuitous in violence, chock-full of bad decisions but enthralling to the last period. Silas never in a million years would’ve dreamed the things he’s put on paper might come to life like this. Well, save for the silver screen, but movies were as imaginary as the novels they portrayed.”
This is a slow burn novel; even the stalking takes place over an extended period of time. Silas and Ben don’t truly connect in a romantic way until the 60% mark, and even then, it takes them a while to go all in with each other. If this book was trying to be a mystery/thriller, then I am not sure it accomplishes that. There is no mystery—we know who is stalking Silas—and while there are “thriller” aspects to the story, I think the author could have ramped up the suspense farther than she did. We got a hint that the stalker would be as deviant and psychologically twisted as Silas’ own characters, but in the end, he is just a mentally unstable man who’s a bit of a bully. Don’t get me wrong, the stalker does have some deliciously evil moments, and those tidbits keep you entertained and on the hook to see what happens.
On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It’s is an interesting read. I think I am just too bloodthirsty—my imagination runs along the same lines as Silas’, I suppose. It is ultimately a romantic story of two men who would never have become as close as they did if the events which unfold in the story had never happened. If they had not had to depend on each other, they would not have acknowledged the feelings each one secretly held. This story is a romance and, therefore, perfectly acceptable without the added edge of suspense. The first act ran a little long for my taste, and the third act seemed a little rushed, but taken as a whole, this was a great read. Cassatta creates great characters, and this is a character driven story. I think Ben and Silas were perfect for each other in the end, and I finished this slow burn story completely satisfied. I recommend this book for those who enjoy reading a story, not just a romance.
You can buy Dearly Stalked here: