Title: Optical Illusion (Paint: Book One)
Author: Emma Jaye
Publisher: Purindoors Publications
Length: 333 Pages
At a Glance: I enjoyed the majority of this book and became invested in Jase and Chris’ story, even if a few aspects did not work for me.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Smile, wiggle, lie, apologise, and run for the hills.
That’s the formula Chris has used all his life, but this time, he has something he’s never had to lose before, a family that cares. The problem is, his new brother’s very edible friend isn’t fooled by his act. If his secrets are revealed, they won’t want him and he has nowhere else to go.
Thanks to a suicide bomber, ex-military police sergeant Jase Rosewood is back in the English countryside. His plans for quiet recuperation are ruined by the effervescent, go-go dancing twink who has everyone wrapped around his little finger. Luckily for the gullible Matt, Jase can smell a liar a mile away, and Chris Bacon, if that’s even his name, stinks to high heaven. Assigned ‘Chris-sitting’ duty while Matt’s on honeymoon, Jase has a week to discover what is hidden beneath the bright camouflage. It’s a job, just like any other, so why does it feel so different?
Unfortunately, Jase isn’t the only one drawn to the boy who can’t stay still, but instead of wanting to reveal his true colours; they want to dull them forever.
Contains issues of physical abuse, but not between the central couple.
Review: I am having a hard time writing this review because there are a lot of aspects of this book that I really enjoyed, and there were a couple of issues that have sort of stayed with me.
What worked? The characters are dimensional and written very well. The overall plot (which was at times a little over the top) has some darker themes with enough humor to keep a good balance, and managed to keep me invested, so I had no problem devouring the book pretty quickly. I felt the ADHD and results of child neglect were done really well. I also really enjoyed many of the secondary characters and was interested what will happen with them—especially Nate, Russel and Alex.
I adored Chris’ character; my heart went out to everything he went through growing up, and all he continues to go through during the course of this story. He has had one load of crap thrown at him after another and yet he continues to survive. He is unapologetic for who he is and how he copes, or what brings him joy. Despite his overtly sexual nature, and the amount of responsibility he has had despite his young age, he is extremely naïve and trusting. He truly is just looking to belong, looking for people to accept him “warts and all”, though he doesn’t believe he deserves that acceptance. He is impulsive, reckless and stubborn, but he is loyal.
Jase, I couldn’t help but internally clap my hands for his character and his ability to cut through the BS when he saw it. He is calm and controlled and seemed to counteract Chris’ more hyperactive nature. His dominance seemed to settle Chris. Jase created a balance for Chris, and a stability that was needed. After something severe happens, Chris’ presence in Jase’s life also does positive things for Jase. It forces Jase out of the stagnant place he had found himself, compelling him to look at moving forward by securing a job and make plans for his future, and his desire to give Chris an opportunity to explore his artistic talents.
Chris and Jase went from meeting and basically sniping for two days, then the major trauma, and then they are pretty much boyfriends. It was fast, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was done poorly. Their chemistry was obvious before everything happened, and it was believable that Jase would want to be there for someone he had developed feelings for. I won’t lie; at times I found myself frustrated with Jase’s choices and behaviors. It seemed that Jase’s feelings went from attraction and “accepting” Chris for his vibrant personality into him consistently trying to change Chris for what he felt was the better. I got the need to help with Chris’ routines and food intake, and areas to help him focus to get better control of his ADHD and insomnia, but it was the aspects of his personality that Jase seemed to want to stifle that irked me. It didn’t seem that he wanted Chris, but wanted the person he could mold Chris to be; little things, his dancing (that obviously brought Chris joy) and his make-up wearing to name a few. But those things also made Jase more realistic in a way, too. Not everything he did and said was exactly what Chris needed.
I enjoyed the banter of the two. And there was definitely chemistry. Chris has a wicked sense of humor and though Jase’s was on the drier side, when he let it out I found myself amused. It was also interesting to watch the techniques Jase employed to get Chris to open up to him about his past, which he had been vehemently keeping secret.
There are a pretty severe couple of chapters, and the blurb warns about the abuse, so the trigger warning does apply. It was distressing and it did sort of come out of the blue, but that isn’t necessarily a problem for me, as not all events have a build-up or require one. I did have an issue with the aftermath, though. I just don’t feel that the aftereffects were dealt with realistically, and Chris’ recovery was pretty rushed. I found myself screaming internally about how quickly Chris bounced back, with pretty much zero therapy of any kind. The author did try to reflect that some of what Chris showed to everyone was exactly that, a show. But on the other hand, everyone took it at face value and didn’t really try to even convince Chris that seeing someone and talking to them or a professional just might be a good idea. No one; not his brother, his sister-in-law (a nurse), the doctor, the paramedic/friend (who is a drug counselor), Jase… no one. It’s like he was given a few days to recover, and there was a bit of a nonchalant “hey if you wanna talk to me about it,” and when he didn’t, they just let it drop. Granted, Chris is a runner, and there was a fear of pushing him to the point where he would do exactly that, but… seriously no one really even broached the subject of therapy?
That being said, the story itself had a good premise, and despite the issues I mentioned, I did enjoy the majority of the book, all the way to the three dreaded words:
To Be Continued
Yes! There is a cliffhanger. And I am talking a full-on whammy of a cliffhanger. I definitely want to continue to read book two because I did get engrossed in their story and do want to know how it will play out.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy a story with some darker themes, a bit of humor, damaged characters and a plot that, at times, is a little over the top.
You can buy Optical Illusion here: