Title: Keep Me Still
Author: Stephen Hoppa
Length: 260 Pages
At a Glance: Keep Me Still worked for me as a sexy and suspenseful bit of escapism.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Travis thinks his life is out of control—until the night he crashes into Cody. That’s when he learns what it truly means to surrender everything. Cody is strong, sexy,and more generous than Travis believed possible. He takes him in and begins unraveling all the pain and secrets that led to Travis being alone, homeless, and running for his life with an envelope of stolen cash.
With such a sweet, fragile heart, Travis has never let his guard down with anyone, but he can’t resist falling deeper and deeper into Cody’s effortless dominance and possessive touch. Over stormy summer nights in Cody’s isolated cabin, Travis discovers the euphoric passion of giving in to the desires Cody draws out of him.
Heart. Mind. Body. Travis hands over everything to the man who taught him to trust. The only problem is… Cody isn’t who he says he is—and his own dangerous secrets may shatter the faith Travis put in him.
Review: It doesn’t seem to matter how connected I think I am to this genre, all it takes is a single Amazon recommendation to put me back in my place. No offense to Stephen Hoppa meant, but I’d never heard of the author until I ran across Keep Me Still in my recs, and then went on to discover he has a reasonably prolific body of work. So, I took a chance on this novel, and I liked it.
In a purely escapist way, Keep Me Still delivers on several levels. First off, the author offers his readers two flawed characters in Travis and Cody, characters I fell for almost instantly, which is always a tick in the reading win column for me. Their backstories are heartstring pluckers, if not unfamiliar in the realms of fiction, and Hoppa in no way attempts to be subtle about playing his readers like the proverbial violin. Travis is dragging rock bottom when Cody finds him in a state of semi-consciousness, and through his suffering, Travis reaches out and grabs you by the feels in such a blatant way that I wanted to wrap him up in cotton fluff myself. It’s for this reason that I understood why Cody took on the job of caring for Travis, even though we get the story in its entirety from Travis’s point of view and only know what Cody wants us to by what he’s willing to reveal in dialogue.
The first-person storytelling worked well in this novel as it allowed Cody to remain a bit of an enigma, which was the author’s intent given how things played out; though, I will say here that there’s a bonus chapter at the end of the book, told from Cody’s perspective, that made me wish Cody’d had a narrative voice too—the omniscient third, dual third or first person, it wouldn’t have mattered to me. That said, however, the sense that there was more to Cody than meets the eye was an undercurrent to everything kind and compassionate we saw on page, and I appreciated the contrast of that and the intense chemistry between him and Travis. This is the second way in which the story delivers—its erotic elements, about which there was absolutely nothing subtle, offered some nice sexual tension to go with the danger from which Travis was attempting to escape. A past which, of course, is foundational to why he is where he is.
As twists go, the climax of the story delivered some intensity along with some of the things I was led to anticipate through Travis’s narration. There are a few clues that lead you toward the big reveal, but that didn’t blunt the impact of it even as it added some eleventh-hour melodrama to the story–which you just have to go with as a part of the disbelief fiction often begs us to suspend. In the end I was so invested in Travis and Cody as a couple that by the time everything imploded, I might have even got a little choked up for a page or two. When a book can achieve that level of emotional connection, I can overlook a lot of its basic construction issues. This book isn’t perfect, could’ve used a heavier-handed editor, but it worked for me as a sexy and suspenseful bit of escapism.
You can buy Keep Me Still here: