ARC Review: Mr. Real by Carolyn Crane

eBook: 280 Pages

Series: Code of Shadows #1

Publisher: Carolyn Crane

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He finds the girl of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares.

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.

Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall – in the flesh – with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness – somehow.

But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?

Not to beat a dead horse, I’ve said this before, but it’s hard to write an original novel. Want to write about vampires? Pft, take a number. Werewolves? Zombies? Witches? Mermaids or ghosts? Done, done and done.
Maybe you make your vampires resistant to sunlight or part of some religious sect. Maybe your zombies will be upstanding citizens with more common sense and brains than your regular human. Or, maybe, you go for something really original and novel and give your MC the ability to create..wooden ducks.(Clearly, I’m never going to be a writer)

But that’d be stupid, right? Unless you’re Carolyn Crane. She’s got such a fantastic and creative imagination, she can make any crazy idea work.

Alix Gordon lives with her dog in the middle of the woods, in a house her great-aunt left her, a person she never got to know.
She’s a bit of a wild card, and the black sheep of the family.

I didn’t mind her characterization up to a point, flirty ways and everything. Justine is a bit of a wandering butterfly with her men, too, and she’s an awesome, loveable character.

One day, when coming back from her walk in the woods, she finds a necklace on her porch, one she was admiring on the internet. Doesn’t take her long to realize what’s happening and how. Eventually, despite her friends protests and against a better judgement, she conjures up Sir Kendall, a spy from a commercial, played by her ex martial arts trainer, Paul.

The novel’s a third person narrative, written from three points of view: Alix, Sir Kendall and Paul. This time, I actually think it was a genius move. You get to see each characters view of the messed up situation they are in and it’s pretty fun to compare and contrast them.
Plus, Sir Kendall is awesome, the perfect spy.

From Alix’s POV, he’s weird and oblivious, as a fictional character in the real world would be, sweet, attentive and the perfect gentleman. From his own POV, he’s the perfect spy, adaptable to any situation, a ruthless killer playing a part to be able to asses situation and get more information.

Sir Kendall is my favorite character.

Alis is just so frustrating, all throughout the book. She’s insecure to the point she needs validation from a fictional man, she does one stupid thing after the other with no regards whatsoever for the consequences, she runs laps between the two men and enjoys when they humiliate each other, she never, ever trusts her friends. I just couldn’t like her, no matter how hard I tried. Which, in the end, took a great deal out of my enjoyment. If I can’t sympathize or relate to the MC, that’s a problem, no matter how good the novel is otherwise.

Paul starts out all badass, calm, cool and collected. However, his behavior toward and relationship with Alix is, yet again, something I didn’t like. For example:

Paul:“Too dangerous.”
Alix:“Because I brought a murderous lunatic to life.”

“Not intentionally.”

“None of my disasters are intentional.”

“Stop it. Listen.”

“It was impulsive. Seriously, from now on, I’m going to think things through and take responsibility. And be different.”

“No, Alix, I love the way you are.

No? Seriously? What’s wrong with taking responsibility for your MAJOR fuck ups? Nothing, that’s what’s wrong.

You know, some situations do call for a “wake the f*ck up, woman” and not oh, it’s all a-okay platitudes. I’m just saying.

In the end, all’s well that ends well, but I still can’t make myself rate Mr. Real more than 3 stars, for those reasons.

*I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged.
*This was an uncorrected proof. I will compare the quotes with the finished book.

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