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“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”  ― Winston Churchill

First Chance: Rock Romance #1

First Chance - A.L. Wood

If I could give negative stars, I would.

People, this book is nowhere ready to be published. This book is an affront to the English language. This book is a disgrace to literature and publishing and anything that involves putting two or more words together to make a coherent sentence.

I know there are some misguided souls out there who feel that negative book reviews should be outlawed and reviewers should "think of the feelings of the poor little author who slaved away."

Well, who thought of ME? Who thought of the poor reader who got sucked in by five star reviews (all those reviewers are now on notice with me - I can't trust you to review "Hop on Pop," much less a novel). If you don't want negative reviews, DON'T PUBLISH SHIT. 'Nuff said.

I don't care that this book is currently free on Amazon and didn't cost me any money. It cost me time. I don't want it to cost the time of others, so I finished it so that my suffering might save others.

And if you don't believe me just how stinky horrible this is? Here's just a small sample of the "prose:"

Until five years ago, Layla and I were staying at my house having a movie night while our parents went to a sit down fundraiser dinner raising money for abused children. Our parents were always supporting charities. They were fortunate to have money beyond their wildest dreams. I also donate quarterly, mainly to charities for children or music programs, in memoriam of them.

I still don’t know all the details, nor do I want to. I think it would fuck me up even more if I did.

Recalling that night. It was late, way past our supposed bedtime, when we heard a knock at the door. I paused the movie we were watching and answered the door. It was a police officer. He introduced himself as Officer Petty's. He asked if I was Natalie Wright. That being me of course I said yes. He then asked if Layla was there and if we would come with him.

I should have known something was wrong when he wouldn’t tell us why we were on our way to the hospital. In fact, he wouldn’t tell us anything at all. When you tell someone that their parents are deceased and that her best friend’s parents are in surgery, you don’t want them to be alone.

When we entered the ER he asked me if I wanted to see my parents’ bodies, that's how we broke the crushing news.

Wood, A.L. (2014-01-23). First Chance (Rock Romance) (p. 2). . Kindle Edition.

My eyes, my eyes. They can never unsee the damage done to the English language.

And in what reality is a fifteen year old told her parents are dead by being asked if she wants to see the bodies?!?!?

Meanwhile, just a few horribly written paragraphs later:

Apparently our parents had a few drinks and thinking Layla's father was the least drunk, he drove them home. Speeding down the road he lost control of the car causing the vehicle to crash into a guard rail, and my parents were then thrown from the car. EMTs found my parents bodies about fifty feet away from the car. They were pronounced dead on the scene. Layla's father, Brian, was going at least seventy miles an hour and not one of them were wearing seatbelts.

Wood, A.L. (2014-01-23). First Chance (Rock Romance) (p. 3). . Kindle Edition.

So, um, when the narrator said she didn't know all the details because it would fuck her up...I guess she does indeed know all the details. *headdesk*

Something is indeed fucked up - oh yeah, it's the current system that allows stuff like this to be put on sale (yes, I know this is currently free. But the sequel ain't).

It gets worse:

Need to know every step of the narrator taking a shower, because it adds so much to the story? Sure!

I turn the shower on choosing to let the water warm up for a few minutes, usually I face a strong shock to my system by getting in and just turning the shower on. A stream of icy cold water is a fairly easy way to wake up quickly. Not taking time lingering under the showerhead, I wash my hair and body with speed and step out of the shower, drying my body off then wrapping the towel around my hair. I walk back into my bedroom.

Wood, A.L. (2014-01-23). First Chance (Rock Romance) (pp. 8-9). . Kindle Edition.

I'm so happy she knew to walk back to the bedroom, aren't you? Keep in mind that the book's story hasn't really started yet. This is all still prelude. And...yawn...such an exciting prelude it is. Don't worry, the excruciating exposition isn't over yet:

Having sat my clothes out on my bed I pick the black designer dress and examine it. It ends at the knee, acceptable. I throw on a pair of flesh colored hosiery and black strappy high-heels. Unwrapping my hair, I run my fingers through it, combing out any knots I find. Then grab my handbag and walk out into the living room. Layla's there alone. Thank God, I didn't want to be a third wheel making an uncomfortable dinner. She’s ready, jacket and all.

“All ready?” Layla asks.

I nod. Making my way out of our apartment while she locks up. A few seconds later she joins me in the elevator making our decent to the lobby of our building. I question her about the new guy, she answers evasively. That’s how I know it’s another unserious fling. Exiting our building we start walking to the car garage across the street.

Wood, A.L. (2014-01-23). First Chance (Rock Romance) (p. 9). . Kindle Edition.

Don't worry, I won't quote more because THE EXPOSITION GOES ON FOR THE NEXT FOUR CHAPTERS. I kid you not. And the story doesn't really kick off until Chapter 7.

For those who might be tempted, here is the "plot" (and I use the word lightly) in a nutshell:

Natalie Wright is a sophomore at the Berklee College of Music (which should totally sue for slander for its depiction in this book). Her best friend Layla drags her to a rock concert, where the headliner is the hit band fronted by lead singer Ryan Steele. Ryan, because he is a major douche, pulls Natalie up on stage to humiliate her because she appears disinterested in the concert (apparently Ryan has super vision that can penetrate the stage lights and see into the audience). But the joke is on him. Natalie tells us, "Unbeknownst to him I can sing, I've been compared to some of the best female voices of all time." But of course, Mary Sue Natalie.

Natalie runs off after she duets with Ryan. Layla, because she is the world's most insensitive and catty friend, waltzes backstage and tells Ryan Natalie's name. Ryan is then informed by his manager that the band MUST hire an intern from Berklee. Ryan in turn blackmails a professor into ensuring Natalie will be the intern because all New Adult "heroes" must exhibit super scary stalker tendencies.

Natalie takes the internship because otherwise she will fail her already completed courses (says no college, EVER). Soon she's on tour with the band, sleeping on their bus, because this book already doesn't have a toehold in reality so why introduce believable situations now? A love triangle is introduced in the form of Liam, a rather sweet and beta-ish band member so of course he stands no chance with Natalie, the Desired By Every Man Who Sets Eyes On Her.

Meanwhile, paint by numbers Natalie sees the tortured artist deep in Ryan's soul that no one else can, although that doesn't stop her from behaving like a scared rabbit every time he stalks sees her.

Of course, this all heads to where you think it will head, with very little conflict or character development. And it is DISTURBING, y'all, when Natalie finally gives him to Ryan:

“I have no reason to talk to you. Unless it’s about my internship or the tour. We have nothing to say to each other.” I say shaking my head showing that this isn’t up for discussion. Suddenly I am pushed back. Ryan shoving his way into my room. Locking my door behind him, this man clearly has an issue with the word no. Either he doesn’t know the meaning or just doesn’t listen.

“What in the hell do you think you are doing? Ryan, I think we played this game earlier and it ended just as it should have.” I say, slowly putting space between us and wrapping my arms around myself with chills zapping at my skin.

“You see, Minx, this is where I think you are wrong.” He says, coming at me.

Glint in his eye, and a sloppy stumble in his step. I keep backing up until my legs hit the bed. I know there is nowhere else to run. I’m stuck in this position. Ryan holding the expression of a hunter on his face, and I am his prey.

Wood, A.L. (2014-01-23). First Chance (Rock Romance) (pp. 122-123). . Kindle Edition.

Dude, SHE SAID NO. And he pushes her. He physically intimidates her.

THIS IS WRONG. THIS IS NOT SEXY. Look at the language - the exact same words could lead into a scene depicting rape.

STOP THE STUPIDITY, AUTHORS!!!!!! Being physically coerced by someone who "doesn't know the meaning [of the word no] or just doesn't listen" IS NOT AROUSING. PERIOD.

Except when you are a numbskull New Adult heroine with less agency than a hamster.

And OF COURSE she's a virgin. She doesn't tell him, he just tells. "I’ll be damned that some part of me was overjoyed there has been no one before me in her."

And OF COURSE she has an orgasm that causes her to, well, not pass out but fall asleep. Hmm. Usually falling asleep during sex is NOT considered a sign of great lovin', but whatevs. He's pretty proud that he "fucked her to sleep."

When Natalie wakes up, he's gone, there's a big misunderstanding when Natalie finds another woman in HIS room (Ryan went to Natalie's room because someone else is using Ryan's room for a foursome), and so Natalie does the only thing a smart, educated, privileged girl does: ODs on Oxycodone. Like you do. The cliffhanger end.