Chrysalis (Formicary #1), S E Harmon
Rating: 3 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Some Action, Second Chances, Series Book #1
Length: 274 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
A gunshot to the head is bad enough. Waking up with amnesia is far worse. I learn that the hard way when I wake up in the hospital, my memory practically wiped. I don’t know why someone wants me dead. Hell, I don’t even know my name. They say my name is Christian Cross. Too bad that name means nothing to me.
I haven’t forgotten everything, though. Grayson Laurie has always been my kryptonite, and it would take more than a bullet to the brain to forget him. He assures me that I’m imagining the distance between us, but I know better. I just don’t know how to fix it. I console myself that at least I’ve reached rock bottom and things can’t get worse…until they do.
My life is a tangled mess of lies and deceit. The more I learn about myself, the less I want to know. I want nothing more than an honest future with Gray, but the past isn’t about to let me go without a fight.
Fortunately, I’m starting to realize that fighting is my specialty.
First of all, look at that cover. It is one visually appealing hook. At this stage I’d say it’s book cover of the year material. It sucked me in with its promises and whispers of dark things to come. It begged me to pick it up and trust the visceral journey. Then the blurb gave me more, it danced around the periphery of edginess which is my crack – edgy, dark, action, clandestine, dare I say it… morally ambiguous. The promise versus the reality are completely different things though. This book is light. There are some unpalatable things mentioned but never explored and they are never impactful. Chris, Chrysalis is his given name, mostly lives at the intersection of Corny Corner and Unbelievable Street. There are so many lines pulled from old-school movies and some songs. I didn’t relate to the humour – at all. I’m reading another book at the moment and the humour works for me, I’m laughing out loud as I read. This was more of a breath inhaling cringe.
I can’t say I’m a devotee of the amnesia trope, I can’t remember – oh, the irony – having read any books with an MC who has amnesia. Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t, but the cover sold me on it, the blurb helped.
My Thoughts and Feelings:
Chris has a gunshot wound to the head but within weeks is out of the hospital. I’m no expert here but I was thinking a couple of weeks after a gunshot wound to your head and you’re out of hospital? Doing regular things? It seemed like a stretch. I suppose there could be an explanation later on as to why this could be the case but you have to draw a long bow yourself, the author doesn’t do it. Also, Chris remembers random things like guest china at his ex boyfriend’s place. I laughed at that but who knows, maybe this is a thing with amnesia.
I bought this book at the same time as I bought Not What it Seems and started reading them simultaneously. At first I thought this was not going to be much chop but the other book ended up being 2 stars and this one 3, so I guess I was pleasantly surprised.
I liked the relationship between Chris and Gray. This book worked best when they were on page together. I enjoy this type of second chances romance, the kind where one of the MCs has a shady past.
The tracking chip. Dear lord. The baddies (magically) can’t find Chis at Gray’s house, they can’t find him when he goes all domestic and on a shopping trip with Gray, but the moment some drama is ‘scheduled in’ suddenly the bad guys can track Chris everywhere. *Snort. Some credibility/editing problems exist.
The ebb and flow was off. The beginning was unbelievable, the humour off-kilter, the action was good in the middle parts of the book and was going pretty well up until around the 80% mark. After that the story became a bit of an info dump about projects and villains and unlikely scenarios like below-
“What’s on the flash drive?” I stalled.
“That’s none of your concern.”
I tsked. “Now, now. You’re not acting like a man who needs a favor.”
“And you’re not acting like a man who wants his boyfriend to live,” he snapped.
Even though my heart rate increased markedly, I kept my face expressionless. “Gray broke up with me several weeks ago.” My voice was decidedly cool. “So I’ll ask you again. What’s on the fucking drive, Dobroslav?”
He gritted his teeth. “The makeup of the chemical compound Xgr-41…”
Then Dobroslav, the bad guy, continues on with his secret info dump about everything and the kitchen sink to Chris, even though Dobroslav has complete leverage by holding Gray as hostage, because why? Because Chris and his boyfriend broke up “several weeks ago.” Say what? No!
The concept of this book is good. I like characters with a ‘family done wrong’ backstory, and vengeance is always a winner for me, but Chris is such a lightweight. This book is meant for the romance reader who likes a bit of action thrown in and a hint of dark storytelling without the worry that it will ever really be dark. I wish this had taken a walk on the wild side but that probably isn’t the author’s style.
I’m looking at that cover again, it is SO beautiful. Kudos to the cover artist because you sold a copy of this book, but the general storytelling does really let it down. However, I see it being a popular book because it ticks a lot of people’s boxes reading in the mm/gay romance genre at the moment. For me, the relationship between Chris and Gray, some of the action, and the tease of what’s to come later made me finish the book. It also makes me believe I could maybe, possibly pick up book #2 in The Formicary series… but I don’t know. For Chrysalis, it’s 3 Stars!