*I was provided a free download of Jolt by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Bold Strokes Books for affording me this opportunity.*.
Mystery writer Bethany Lange wasn’t prepared for the twisting emotions that left her breathless the moment she laid eyes on folk singer sensation Ali Hart. Of course she was flat on her back and looking up and backward at the gorgeous singer, but that didn’t stop her body and heart from bursting into a kaleidoscope of want, need, and lust. Scared at the intensity of her feelings, Bethany does everything she can to avoid Ali at Camp Jacomo, the camp designed specifically for children of lesbian and gay families where Bethany volunteers every summer. The camp director convinces the hottest singer at the moment, Ali Hart, to spend a week teaching the children music to everybody’s delight except Bethany’s. On her last day at camp, Ali approaches Bethany with an offer of friendship, but they both know it’s the prelude to something bolder. Should Bethany take the risk? Does she really believe she can balance her quiet private life with Ali’s outspoken one?
Kris Bryant’s new romance, Jolt (Bold Strokes Books), is a pretty solid novel. It follows the romance formula nicely, offers a good story, and provides us with some interesting characters. But, I think that it could have been more effectively executed.
Jolt is a “girl meets girl, girl gets girl, girl loses girl, girl gets girl back” story. We expect and get the burgeoning romance, the conflict/obstacles, and the eventual payoff. Quite appropriate for a romance. This formula is used to tell a good story, as well – the unyielding attraction these two women have for each other, the slow “getting to know you” process, the struggle to blend two very different lives. It’s certainly compelling – I kept looking forward to what would happen next.
Bethany and Ali are women who each have their own painful histories and are each carrying around some hefty baggage. What I really liked is that each had a very distinctive voice throughout the story. Their speech patterns, the way they would turn a phrase…these were unique to each of the characters. The same holds true for the secondary characters. They are clearly defined. I wanted a bit more about their back stories, though. We’re told what happened to make Bethany become such a recluse and averse to “getting out there” and dating again, but I don’t feel like there was enough to get past the superficial level. Based on what we’re provided, I didn’t feel like Bethany’s reactions were more than melodrama. Now, I know that sounds harsh and I don’t intend it that way. What it means is that I wanted to know more – not just what happened, but more about the fallout. With that additional information, I think Bethany’s growth as a character would be more intriguing.
I was, however, a bit disappointed in the execution of the telling at times. Much of this may be my own, personal bias, but I think there’s also validity to it. The story is told from the first-person point of view, which is fine. But it’s also told in present tense, which, for me, is a bit awkward. Again, this is probably just my own preference. Additionally, I believe more attention could have been paid to word/phrase choices throughout the novel. Dialogue tags were limited mainly to “I say” and “she says.” I lost track of the number of times the word “jolt” was used in the first few chapters. I think there definitely could have been more variety. Similarly, there are other areas that either needed variety in word choice or to simply be edited out all-together. I definitely understand the need to sometimes remind the reader of certain moments or thoughts throughout a novel. However, in Jolt there were a number of instances of a chapter ending with one of those moments or thoughts and then being repeated at the beginning of the very next chapter. In some cases, it seemed as though sentences were copied from one chapter and pasted directly into the next. I don’t know if this was intentional or it was missed in editing/proofreading. But it definitely stood out for me.
Overall, this is not a bad book. It’s a good story with interesting characters. I don’t not recommend the book. If you like romance novels with some passionate sex scenes, then you’ll enjoy this. If you’re like me, just be prepared to get past some of the technical aspects.