Montana's Reviews > ReneCade

ReneCade by Cameron Dane
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May 27, 09

bookshelves: glbt, romance, i-own
Read in May, 2009

My dislike for this book runs pretty deep, so those who don't like to read negative reviews should consider this fair warning.

From the very beginning, I didn't find either Ren or Cade a particularly sympathetic character. Ren's sexual relationship with Tex— particularly the way he went from frustrated and resentful of the limitations Tex imposed on their relationship to an immediate rationalization of his acceptance of those limitations—set off warning bells for me. Still, his conflicted feelings could have been indicative of a character trait that would build tension throughout the book: a willingness to settle (albeit bitterly) for what he could get, even when he wanted more. Sadly, though, this wasn't his only character flaw. He's also immature, spoiled, and has abandonment issues of epic proportions.

Oddly, even though Cade is the older of the two by nearly a decade, he's even more emotionally immature than Ren. There are constant hints dropped about the trauma in his past that left him repressed to the point of non-functional in a relationship context. The reveal, which finally comes near the end of the book, doesn't have nearly enough impact to justify all the hype along the way. Like Ren, Cade has a laundry list of what are presumably meant to be quirky or interesting character traits, but they mainly serve to remind the reader that he's fictional.

Despite his complete inexperience, Cade is set up as the relationship expert, dispensing sage advice and even lecturing Ren on the ways in which Ren has wronged him. Ren, of course, recognizes the wisdom in Cade's words and sees the error of his ways, at least until they do it all over again. At best their relationship feels like a co-dependent mess and at worst like mutual emotional abuse.

We're told that when they have sex it's transcendent and life-changing, but neither of them seems to change as a result of it. Each time Ren realizes how much he cares for Cade and each time Cade runs away as soon as it's over. That lack character growth is a problem that plagues the whole book, in fact.

The conflicts that keep them from their happily ever after are repetitive, too, and don't grow organically from the plot. The failures of communication are overly melodramatic even by romance-trope standards, and the ultimate conflict that leads to an apparently permanent break-up is so clearly manufactured by the author without regard for any kind of logic that it makes it impossible to suspend disbelief.

This is a very long book that could've been cut by at least a third if not half by a good editor with a sharp red pencil and a willingness to roll up her sleeves and really dig in. Honestly, though, I'm not sure even a good edit could've saved it, because the characters are so unlikeable that even after cutting away all the excess padding, you'd still be left with two self-absorbed people who should be in therapy instead of in love.
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