Review: Training Complex by Leta Blake

Buckle up – Matty’s back!

Figure skater Matty Marcus didn't capture Olympic gold, but he won rancher Rob Lovely's heart.

After Rob sold his ranch and Matty hung up his skates, they started a new life together in New York City. Now Matty has taken on a fresh challenge as a figure skating coach, and Rob's second career as a physical therapist should be everything he's dreamed of. But in the brutal heat of their third summer in the city, Rob yearns for the wide-open country, and the intensity of city life awakens Matty’s demons.

Matty asks for increasingly intense BDSM scenes, and his disordered eating and erratic behavior ramp up the stakes. Rob struggles to stay in control, and after a well-intentioned anniversary gift goes awry, he still thinks he can handle the fallout. But the concrete jungle is closing in and his coping skills are unraveling.

Their love is deep, but Rob will have to admit the truth about what he really wants before they both tumble into chaos.

My apologies to Ms. Blake but I'm not going to rate this. This is on me. I have an annoying habit of not reading blurbs and... I should've read the blurb. If I'd read the blurb I would've known where this was heading and I wouldn't have requested it. Instead I was presumptuous and assumed the conflict would be NYC vs. Montana and it was, but not entirely.

The fact of the matter is this book was a chore for me. I forced myself to read it and it exhausted me because it felt like work. I don't know about you but when I get free time I don't want to think about work. I want to get as far away from work as possible. This brought work home.

Matty is... a train wreck. He's got serious mental health issues that need professional attention. I realize he and Rob are in financial straits but I cannot believe there are no resources available in NYC. But, apparently, there aren't and they are trying to handle his mental illness using BDSM which is a trope I'm not fond of. BDSM is not a cure all. I understand wanting/needing a scene occasionally to get out of your own head, but it's not a viable treatment modality for mental illness. 

What's more, the onus of this "treatment" falls on Rob's shoulders and it exhausts him. Matty is a leach, always pushing, always taking and Rob is always giving. Their relationship is dysfunctional and codependent with the power firmly held by Matty. I'm sure this hella fucked up relationship was created by design for dramatic effect, but I much prefer reading books featuring mutually beneficial relationships or at least for the most part.  

I couldn't even get into the kink and there's good kink here! Me! I skimmed kink! Look outside your window because it's entirely possible pigs are flying. My discomfort did plateau about three-quarter's of the way through, but I still feel like it's a gross misuse of BDSM and, mostly, I just pitied them. They made me sad. 

Kudos to Ms. Blake on the characterizations and obvious research she did into mental illness. I continue to have issues with the writing style. It devolves into minutiae that doesn't advance the story in meaningful ways. My chief complaint about Training Season was its propensity to take a point and drive it into the ground over and over again. As a reader, I don't need to be told something repeatedly especially not when it involves these topics. It could've been trimmed (conservatively) by at least a fourth. If you make your words count for something the first time, you don't have to go down the Parrot Express and treat readers like preschoolers. See how annoying that was? 

It wasn't all dour. There were moments of levity and bright spots and an HEA and somehow the mental illness got magically fixed by, I guess, a combination of BDSM, a Come to Jesus fight with Rob, a self help book and a newfound friendship with a slave. I wish I'd read the blurb.

A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. Now that is what I call an honest review, you didn't hesitate to give the facts and your own opinion. Very refreshing to read.