Monday 29 December 2014

#CBR6 Book 138: "Glitterland" by Alexis Hall

Page count: 248 pages
Rating:3.5 stars

Ash Winters is a bipolar depressive who once wrote a very clinically acclaimed novel, but now makes a living writing mystery genre fiction, when he´s well enough to do anything at all, that is. He feels like a constant disappointment to his friends and family and cannot remember the last time he felt happy or even content. He´s dragged along to a stag party in Brighton against his better judgement and ends up going home with Darian, an Essex model with a spray tan, elaborate coif and a ridiculously flashy outfit. He wakes up with a panic attack and leaves without saying goodbye, trying his best to forget the encounter ever happened.

But Darian tracks him down at a book signing and Ash has to admit that he´s still deeply attracted to the bouncy, talkative, orange-skinned, big-haired Essex lad. Even if Darian isn´t exactly his intellectual equal in any way, he seems to make Ash forget about his anxiety and misery while they´re together. Ash can´t bring himself to tell Darian the truth about his illness. He keeps telling himself that they have nothing in common except their sizzling chemistry, so how can they possibly have a future?

Alexis Hall first came to my attention when he did a series of very entertaining romance reviews for Dear Author, one of the many romance review sites I spend far too much of my time frequenting. I began following him on Twitter and discovered he had written his own book. Then, as is so often the case, I bought the e-book and forgot all about it. When looking for light entertainment while woolly-headed and sick with a cold over Christmas, I came across the book on my e-reader and the rest is history.

I like a lot about the book. I like that Ash has a genuine illness and that it´s quite clear that someone with a diagnosis as bipolar isn´t going to suddenly get well just because they fall in love. I like that while Darian clearly isn´t an intellectual and enjoys fashion, glamour and reality TV, he´s not actually stupid either and is a genuinely good person, whose optimism and cheerfulness is an important contrast to Ash´s gloom and fatalistic world view. I liked Ash´s literary agent, Amy, and her fiancee Max. They both seemed lovely. I liked Darian´s friends. While they are not the sort of people I would hang out with, they seemed to genuinely care for each other and support each other, which is more than I can say for all of Ash´s friends.

Which brings me to what I didn´t like. I did not like Ash´s ex-boyfriend Niall, whose passive-aggressive behaviour was clearly meant to make Ash feel guilty all the time. I didn´t feel even vaguely sorry for him, even towards the end of the book, when he breaks down and finally apologises to Ash for his controlling ways. I also, unfortunately, didn´t like Ash all that much. He´s mentally ill, yes, and unfortunately Niall´s so-called friendly advice has made him believe that he is beyond redemption or happiness, but he is far too judgemental and pretentious for much of the book and really very mean to Darian far too much of the time. I´m honestly not sure Darian should have forgiven him, considering what Ash did and how long it took him to apologise. I also feel that there should have been more grovelling.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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