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Romance and other things


Mixed bag unfortunately

Crash Plus Expenses - Astrid Amara

Dan Lewinski would follow his subject Connor Katz to the ends of the earth. It’s what he’s paid to do. Apparently this also includes following his subject Connor Katz as they plummet to earth, because their plane is going down. And Dan likes living so that's a problem. It’s also a problem because he knows there’s a secret behind Connor Katz’s past, a reason the man’s sister is paying beaucoup bucks to have him followed, a reason Connor appears so quiet on the outside, yet seems lit like a fire from within. Dan needs to know Connor’s secret. But if they survive the crash, how on earth can Dan get to know the mysteries of a man he’s been in love with from afar without admitting he’s a private eye who’s watched his every move?



Dear Astrid Amara, every time I hear that you are about to release a new story, well, let’s just say I want for that story to fall in my lap that very second. Unfortunately this one ended up being a mixed bag for me. I was prepared for the guys to experience a fast attraction because the story was a novella, and I knew that you would do your very best to make that believable for me. I was prepared for the fact that the story would just feature a beginning of the relationship because you mentioned that you were writing this story in two parts so to speak. Apparently we will meet Dan and Connor again in your yearly Hanukka offering.  And I am usually okay with the well written story which only shows the beginning of the relationship even if no sequel were coming.  I did not have a problem with any of this.

I however had some problems with the story structure and more importantly I hate the “oh, let me not to say something and make the other guy misinterpret what I did say based on that incomplete information” plot device. You decided to use it – that’s your artistic choice, but boy did it not work for me.

But let’s start from the beginning. Actually beginning started not to work for me right after first couple of paragraphs. See, Dan and Connor are on the plane which is pretty much going down pretty fast and it is obvious it will crash. I thank the higher powers that I do not know what the person that knows that they are likely to die in the next few moments may be thinking, but I cannot buy that in those few moments they would decide to tell us the whole set up for why Dan Lewinski the PI decided to accept the assignment of shadowing Connor Katz whether he would go and make sure he was not exhibiting “pattern of unhealthy behavior” (paraphrase) and let his estranged sister know if there were any problems with Connor. I get that the writer needed to give this information to the reader and because the story is dealing with surviving the crash giving the back story later on may have felt like even worse info-dump. I get it, however the way it was done just did not work for me. The main reason why it did not work for me was because it made the urgency of those last moments disappear for me. It started well:

“Spontaneous combustion.

Rhino horn in the eye.

Laughter suffocation.

Dan Lewinski had fantasies of his preferred method of death. If forced to shed this mortal coil, he wanted to exuviate in fanfare and aplomb.

Space execution.

Raptor mauling.

Dying in a fiery inferno falling from ten thousand feet had some panache, granted. It was way cooler than, say, embolism or choking on a pretzel.

But dying in a plane crash took a lot of time.  Time when a man like Dan would think things like I didn’t pay that utility bill, and I never made amends with my father, and Wait, I am thirty years old  and still single. I don’t actually want to die right this moment”

Apparently getting ready to die in a plane crash took *so much* time that Dan has time to share all of this and more with the readers:

“He’d never officially met Connor, of course. A year ago, Dan and his business partner, Frankie Fisher, had been hired by Connor’s estranged older sister to keep tabs on Connor and alert her if he engaged in any suspicious or dangerous behavior.

Clarity as to what constituted suspicious was never provided by Sheila Cole-Bergman. She remained downright sketchy about the whole assignment.”

Once we are done with the back story, the narrative became very engaging, I rooted for Connor and Dan when they were trying to find the way to survive the Alaskan wilderness and I did not have to stretch my disbelief too far when some help for them came along the way.

I found both guys to be very likeable and sympathetic. I liked how the story tried to help me out to deal with the fast attraction besides evoking “dangerous circumstances – heightened feelings and awareness of each other”.

What I did not like was the way the conflict in this story was presented. Basically Dan is worried that when Connor will learn that Dan was watching his every move for a while now, Connor would not want anything to do with him. Dan knows he has to tell the truth and fast.

“If he was ever to be Connor’s friend, Dan had to stop lying. But how could he contemplate such a revelation now, when there was only the two of them against the miserable wilderness and their lives were in great peril? Surely lies would be all right until they were in danger.”

Alas he decides not to. Why? I was not sure. Actually I suppose the excuse of being in shock and not thinking clearly after the crash worked for a while – not for too long though. But even this hurdle I could overcome, after all they were hurt after the accident and I could forgive Dan for maybe not exhibiting the pattern of clear thinking. 

The best (I mean) the worst example of miscommunication came when Connor already knows that Dan was hired to watch him. See, Connor is worried that the people he was running from for years hired him. Secret mentioned in the blurb really did mean that the guy’s physical safety was a huge issue for him even at that point in his life. And when he asked Dan, *point blank* who hired him, Dan basically says he could not answer, because he needs to protect his client. At this point I was doing the head desk movements. Of course Connor misinterprets Dan’s answer and decides that people who are a threat to him hired Dan. And that causes Connor to separate himself from Dan and put himself in even more danger. Picture very irritated Sirius at that point in the story, which was closer to the end .

And I still liked the guys so much, and loved Dan’s begging for forgiveness. It was very sweet.

Because the characters were so sympathetic, I cannot grade it lower than C.