Wednesday, February 15, 2012

REVIEW: Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

Shattered Glass (Shattered Glass, #1) Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Slight Spoilers

The first book in a mm-romance contemporary mystery series, Shattered Glass tells the love story of Austin Glass and Peter Cotton. You read right, there’s a character named Peter Cotton. The story begins with Detective Austin Glass being distracted by a diner waiter wearing bunny slippers. Guess who’s wearing them? Cue bunny humor, sexuality confusion, and dick jokes. Oh, there’s also the mob.

Told in 1st PoV from Austin’s side, SG contained a meaty plot. Too meaty for my liking. Usually, I like quick-paced story, but this one had my head spinning. There was a large cast of characters, too many for me to keep track. For example, at one point I forgot about Dave after the story introduced him as Austin’s estranged childhood friend. When the story re-introduced him as a Person of Interest, I went “OMG, who is this Dave person they keep talking about?” I knew the story mentioned him before, but I didn’t remember clearly. My memory of Dave was eroded by introduction of new character after new character, especially when the mob part of the story came into play. Only when I finished the story did I finally remember Dave as Austin’s childhood friend.

I also had a difficult time keeping track of the mystery. For the first half of the story, the mystery was about drug-busting. Then it morphed into human trafficking. Then it became a mob story. I love mob story, but dang, SG had too much stuff going on. Add on the twists and turns and the story became convoluted.

Now, I love complexity in a story. The Harry Potter series (4-stars imo) does it well. The Rifter series by Ginn Hale (2-stars imo) does it well. But SG? Not really. Disclaimer: I didn’t bother re-reading the story or any of its particular passages such as Peter’s mob family flashback that confused me for better understanding. The story wasn’t that captivating enough for me to do so.

FYI, this is not a GFY story. This is an OFY story.

Shattered Glass, Battered Balls

I liked Austin's immature humor, but I didn’t like him much as a person. Definitely not in the beginning. I didn’t like it when Austin kissed Peter because Austin was currently engaged. That’s cheating. I put myself in Angelica’s place. If my fiancĂ© suddenly decided he might be straight or bi and he kissed a woman for proof? Oh Hell Fucking No. Somebody’s balls are in for some stomping. Later on the story revealed Austin to be a serial cheater. What?

It was not the first time this happened. Angelica was not the first fiancé Austin had and cheated on, she was his second. Not to mention all the girlfriends he cheated on. Yup, he cheated on every single one of them.

I had to put the book down. I felt an unusual type of anger, not the red steaming kind I am used to but the cold silent kind. I think I was so cold-angry I didn’t even read a book for a few days... OMFG, I know! As I tried to recapture the magic of reading by reading other books, SG was gaining positive reviews. Some of it by my friends. After 1-2 weeks, I decided to give SG another try. I had to anyway since I dislike leaving a bought ebook unread because it seem wasteful and the general action of DNFing a book because I’m too stubborn, possibly OCD.

SG managed to redeem Austin in my eyes through many ways. Austin accepted his newfound sexuality without much fuss and prolongment. He risked his career and life for Peter, which my logical side thought was stupid even though my emotional side went “awww.” He took a chance on love — awww, though instant love which I also think is stupid. Though not as quick as I would like, Austin confessed to Angelica and broke up the engagement.

But the biggest game changer? Jesse, Austin’s childhood gay friend that committed suicide. Left an emotional scar so bad, Austin was completely blind to himself being a closet case. Austin’s family, of course, was no help — stereotypical rich people full of hate and contempt. Dude is messed up.

Even though I still dislike Austin for being a “cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater” because no matter how messed up a person is it does not give them the right to mess other people’s lives, I came to empathize Austin. Dude was right, he does have the “bro effect.” I went from not liking Austin to sorta liking him, which was a big deal for me.

Other Characters

All the characters had depth, though some more than others. No one was perfect, everyone had flaws. Some got traits that made them easily likable in spite of their flaws. For example, Peter. I actually had no problem with his hot-cold approach to Austin.

The only thing that bothered me was the villains revealed at the end. I still have no idea why those villains did what they did. Was it greed the fueled their criminal actions? At a lost for their motives... I believe the villains, the ones at the end and not in the beginning, had the weakest character development, especially that one villain who betrayed Austin. Why the betrayal, when did the dude became crooked? =S

Oh, Cai was kinda annoying. I was too impatient with his manner of speaking, most likely why I didn’t understand what he said most of the time.

Angelica turned out not to be a bitch of an ex like so many other mm-romance that tries to make it okay for the protagonist to pursue their same-sex interest without guilt. Sure, she had an affair with Austin’s father. But hey, Austin knew about it. IIRC, some of the reasons why Austin eventually dated her after she broke up with Austin’s father was because he wanted to console her and piss off his father.

One of my favorite characters was the Albanian mother. She was crazy, she was caring, and she cock-blocked Austin. LOL.

An Unnecessary Subplot

SG had too much going on, the worst offending subplot was the bed-ridden, bitchy Mrs. Glass. From start to near end, I got the impression that Austin’s mother was dead. Austin as a messed up characters bitched about how his father was an asshole. Asshole father this, asshole father that. Later on asshole grandfather this. And then back to asshole father this and that. I agree, Austin’s father and grandfather were assholes. However, not one word about his mother was mentioned...

Till near the end, specifically right before the Epilogue. Mrs. Glass wasn’t dead. Though she was close to it, she was still alive. And bitchy. She dropped a bombshell or two (or was it three?) of family secrets, as if Austin’s family wasn’t drama-filled already. Ugh. One of them secrets was a hidden six-years old brother of Austin. Okay, I get that the story wanted a HEA for the couple but goodness was that forced. From what I gather, Austin is going to adopt his brother and live with Peter and Peter’s foster brothers as one big happy family.

Okay then...

Another Irritant

I didn’t like how at the end of the story the couple “settled the monogamy argument.” I scratched my head at that. Half out of annoyance, half not getting what it means. But somehow, I just feel... offended. The promiscuous gay guy stereotype is starting to get on my nerve in mm-romance. Ugh. Maybe, I’m just being stupidly hyper-sensitive here. IDK...

The Love Factor

The sexual content was minimal, imo, but it was still explicit. Blowjob scenes interspersed throughout the story. It was kinda hot, but I preferred the cuddling scenes.

SG was not a heavy romance because there were other things going on too like that drug-busting turned human trafficking turned mob story thing. It could have easily turned into a “I love you, I love you not” thing throughout the entire story, but I didn’t think so. Sure, the romance ran hot and cold that some readers might find it potentially exasperating, but I was always confident that the couple would pull through.

The Formatting

It didn’t affect my rating of the story but I feel it needs to be mentioned. The formatting was kinda shabby. I bought the ebook at Smashwords, and downloaded the epub format. The line-height was too small, the sentences too close to each other, making the story pretty unreadable. Fortunately, I know a bit about epub-formatting and tweaked the unwanted 100% line-height to 130% line-height on the CSS stylesheet.

Spacing between paragraphs in the same scene, I had to tweak that too. For some odd reasons, 1/4 to 1/3 of an epub page had empty spaces. It was like the paragraphs were unable to flow from one page to the next. I deleted the page-break property on the CSS stylesheet, and it did fix the spacing issue to a large extend. Not completely, but to a large extend.

FYI, the mobi version is only available at Amazon. If you buy the ebook at Smashwords and want a mobi format, better open up Calibre for conversion.

To re-iterate: the formatting was kinda shabby but it wasn’t that bad and did not affect my rating of the story.

I also noticed an editing mistake.

[Fbi agents, US Marshalls and a detective vouching for the boy and taking him into his home is enough to convince me that he isn’t a flight risk.] in Chapter 13. Bolding is my own. "Fbi" should be "FBI," "Marshalls" as "Marshals," and the sentence needs a comma after "Marshalls."


I rate SG two-stars for it was okay. I might continue the series; the next book will be a low priority read.

I recommend SG for anyone who likes the Life Lessons series by Kaje Harper. For anyone who likes SG, I recommend the Life Lessons series by Kaje Harper.

It just so happened after I finished SG, I started another mob story — Wild Thing by Josh Bazell, a mainstream non-mm-romance mystery book. Sarah Palin as a character introduced in the last 1/3 of the book threw me for a loop. O_O I totally did not see that coming. The book shared many things in common with SG such as a flawed protagonist, but I liked the execution in Wild Thing better, including its breaking-the-reader-dimension footnotes.

Amazon GoodReads

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