Guest Review: ...And All Shall Fade to Black by Layla Dorine

Moving into his new apartment, Jax never expected to have to break up a fight between his new neighbors, resulting in a physical altercation and a visit from the cops. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would lead to him meeting Danny, the cute theater manager and playwright that lived next door. Unfortunately, his first impression of Danny and the way he’d cowered away in the fight with his ex, wasn’t exactly a favorable one. Jax already has his own issues to deal with, between his past problems with his mother and the chain of men who’ve floated in and out of her life, his new job as a piercer in his sister’s tattoo shop and his struggles with an eating disorder; the last thing he plans to add to it is a relationship. Yet Danny isn’t so easy to ignore and when they find themselves bonding after Danny shows him around town, and more when Jax offers to help with sets for his latest play, it becomes harder and harder for him to ignore the connection forming between them. As Jax’s insecurities and food issues grow more and more out of control, he find himself turning to Danny for help, rather than his longtime friends Callum and Max who lives just downstairs. Danny’s mix of patience, stubbornness and tough love make it harder and harder for Jax to keep his distance, and somewhere in the course of their daily lives, they find themselves moving from being friends, to being more.

Trigger warning: domestic violence

Reviewer: Annika

I'm sorry to say this book didn't work for me. At all. And sadly for so many reasons. My first issue was with the writing and editing of this book. It reads more like an early beta version rather than the finished book. A lot of the times I found the sentence structure to be really confusing and I had to re-read many of them just to try to make sense of them. That might just be me, I don't know. All I know is that I had a difficult time with it.

A lot of the time the story and characters felt flat. Everything lacked in descriptions. I don't need huge and complicated world-buildings, but some basic descriptions would be nice. Reading page after page with only dialogue and nothing that really breaks in to give some relief is exhausting. The really sad thing is that at times there are really great descriptions, and everything flows along nicely, but there should've been so much more of it,

Another pet peeve of mine are constant changes in POV, where you don't know who's head you're in and end up completely lost. At least keep the same POV throughout the entire chapter. I'm always thrown out of the story when there are too many jumps.

And what about our MC's? Well, I'm sad to say I couldn't stand Jax. You'd think Jax would be a more sympathetic person with his past and issues and all that, but to me he just came across like a giant judgemental ass. And with that I don't mean that I need people to be all lovey-dovey and nice and super friendly all the time - it would be ridiculous if they were. But I do want them have basic respect for other human beings. (at least when you are supposed to sympathise and like the person) And Jax's first meeting, well second really (first for us) with Danny just proves that he is not:

Of course the coward on the floor didn't answer him

He couldn't imagine cowering from anyone, let alone someone who seemed hell bent on kicking his ass. At the very least he'd have stood on his own two feet and slugged it out even in a battle he knew he couldn't win

Then you have Danny, who in the beginning comes across as this meek, shy guy who's too afraid to stand up for himself. Yet somehow, they strike up an unlikely pseudo friendship, both wanting more, but too afraid to start something. We don't get to know all that much about Danny as most of the focus is on Jax and his issues or Danny's writing. Danny himself is kind of invisible.

Oh, and for those of you looking for something hot and heavy, this is not the book for you. There is barely no intimacy until the last few chapters of the books. A lot of back and forth between them. A couple of kisses here and there, but not much else and not with any kind of regularity.

I felt like there was a lot of the plot left unexplored, and unanswered. It didn't feel like the story/book was complete. There are too many loose ends left to be tied for my liking. I don't want or need everything fixed by the end of the book. I truly dislike if that's the case. But what I do want and am always looking for is progress, hope. That the characters have learned something from their struggles. When we left the story it felt half done, there is more to be explored, to learn. But not enough for it to turn into a second book or series.

What I did like about this book was how realistic Jax's eating disorder was portrayed. All the struggles he went through, every day and with every bite. You were really there with him during those struggles, they were heart-felt and real. As were the warped sense of self-worth and sense of body. Never wanting help from anyone - or that anyone knew that he was struggling. This part felt really real to me and truly well done.

I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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