Desperation by D.W. Carver

DesperationDesperation by D.W. Carver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest, objective review.

While the cover alludes to the romantic nature of the story awaiting, it does not prepare you for the darkly beautiful connections between the three characters that bring them together.

I was sucked into the story right away, immediately intrigued by the character of Kate. Carver’s experience in counseling and the healing arts is well plumbed in developing this character. I related easily to her trust issues, her inclinations, and her struggles in adjusting to a world no longer colored by her mother’s overbearing presence. Kate’s darkness called to mine but in a gentle way. Carver treats the touchy subject matter of sexual gratification via spanking with utmost respect. The psychology behind it is plausible for every character which tells me this is subject matter she is well familiar with, and much appreciated.

Kate’s character was not the only hook in the book. Vickie is an incorrigible yet strangely endearing character, full of teenage angst and proclivities yet adult enough to realize the danger she is in and cope with her sexuality. She is naïve and innocent in many ways, making the dichotomy of her often wanton sexuality striking and refreshing. Like Kate I couldn’t help falling for Vickie.

I have to say that I was not fond of Rob as a person or a character. Certainly well intentioned yet predatory in a charming, “don’t see it coming” way, he’s just someone I would shy away from in real life. Once again I credit Carver’s psychology and character development. His choices toward the end of the story are predictable and as such I appreciated Kate’s emotional and physical responses to his betrayals.

The mystery/thriller aspect to the story was as unique as Carver’s characters. A mother probably suffering from paranoid schizophrenia starts a chain reaction in Kate’s childhood that will carry through and threaten her life and the lives of those she loves decades later. I enjoyed that the story did not veer down into trying to figure out the reasons why her mother might have done the things she did, but kept to the immediacy of the storytelling. The plot pacing was steady and appropriately suspenseful and gripping when necessary.

Carver keeps you guessing as to the reasons why Kate’s life is in danger right up until the very end. I’m usually pretty good at predicting an ending but the conclusion to this story left me both surprised and disappointed. My actual thought was an incredulous “Really? Over and done that easily? That’s it?” but then I took a day or so to think about it a little harder.

And it clicked. This book isn’t really so much about the mystery thriller that propels the characters through the events, but instead to take part as Kate’s emotional awakening, development and acceptance transpires. Kate begins the story more than a little emotionally broken. The crazy mother that controlled every aspect of her life and taught her how to interact with the world has just died. Suddenly the boundaries that were in place previously are gone and the wide world is a scary place. It takes her strange relationship with Rob to lead her to Vickie, who arouses in her such a gamut of feelings that she has no choice but to process them on the fly, and does so admirably. She achieves a great deal in the way of learning what love is and how to overcome her trust issues. She isn’t whole and hale by the end of the story but she’s mostly healed of the trauma her mother’s insanity caused. Vickie’s love is the salve to all her wounds. The mystery thriller is just the vehicle transporting the romance from start to finish.

My overall opinion is that this is a phenomenal book that communicates on multiple levels. I loved every minute of reading it.

I had to give Desperation a rating of 3 out of 5 stars, not the 5 I was hoping for, for the following reasons:

Poor formatting. Paragraphs had no uniform indentations, sometimes starting halfway across the page. This made the appearance of the text sloppy, almost disheveled.

Poor editing in spelling and punctuation. The writing is superb but a lot of words were missing their ending possessives. Passages of dialog were more often than not missing opening or ending quotations. These deductions pain me to make. A better eye to editing and formatting would have earned a full ranking which is what this book truly deserves.

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