Beyond the Grill by Tracey Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 5th, 2016
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Justin Walker is used to being the hookup but never the boyfriend, and that’s okay. Justin has goals—he might sling burgers by night and work on his car by day, but he has plans to go to school and make a life for himself. He also has a few friends and loving parents.
What more could a guy ask for?
Hot, muscular, manly Shane Steel is a walking wet dream. Justin fantasizes about having Shane as more than a casual acquaintance, and one night he works up the courage to flirt with Shane. To his surprise—and terror—Shane is interested. Very interested.
As they bond over their love of cars and drag racing, Justin begins to believe he can be more to Shane than a side guy. Too bad Shane’s manipulative and dangerous ex is dead set against letting that happen.
Date Rape Drugs
Attempted Sexual Assaut
If you are interested in reading this book for the whole car/racing aspect of it, don’t bother. Actually just don’t bother reading this at all. It is an incredibly two dimensional book with bland characters that are poorly developed and tons of wooden dialogue that accompany schizophrenic plot points.
The book starts with them bonding at the arcade and mentions a bunch of their common friends that for some reason never show up the rest of the book. Shane and Justin don’t even go back to any arcades for the rest of the book. The arcade was literally just a way for them to awkwardly flirt in order for Justin to devolve into whiny “I don’t know if he likes me why would he” drama.
I don’t know why he would like you, Justin, because the author didn’t do a good job of showing you two grow into a relationship. I am pretty sure I came up with more involved plots for why Barbie and Ken were dating when I was 7 than this entire book had about two guys that were supposed to be in love. Using insecurity to cause conflict and drama between the characters is a trope I personally can’t get into, because it seems like lazy writing to me. Especially if it is not pushing the plot forward.
The worst part of this book was that everything seemed to stand still until over half the book was over and then suddenly there was so much unnecessary, poorly written, manufactured drama. Shane’s ex (briefly from high school) was this weird villain that seemed to change depending on if the author wanted more drama or not. He was kind of all over the place and it made the importance of his actions diminish in the story
Everything he did was suddenly introduced to cause more problems or drama between Shane and Justin. He roofies Shane, but doesn’t have sex with him, he threatens to rape Justin, he does drugs…. Ignoring the lack of character/plot development here (hard but it needs to be done): rape is a very serious thing. It isn’t a throwaway plot point you can just do to a character and have everything be ok after.
I don’t understand why this author just threw it in the book without really dealing with it in a constructive way. The characters seemed mildy upset by it but not much else. I think it is very strange that the author had roofies/attempted sexual assault as a major plot point and didn’t give a warning for it.
Apart from Shane’s ex there were no other secondary characters. One of Justin’s friends shows up and goes away very quickly without much explanation, but that was very brief. Like I mentioned before they had friends they met at the arcade, but I am still confused why they weren’t around the rest of the book. Neither Shane’s nor Justin’s co-workers were involved, which was weird because they both worked a lot and Shane owned his garage. I don’t really even like people and I have more social interaction in one day than these two had in an entire book.
The bottom line is that the summary for this book was incredibly misleading and the content was disappointing. I thought the major plot point was going to be cars and drag racing, and both were barely involved. Instead we got a book focused on manufactured, underdeveloped drama, awkward writing, and two dimensional characters.
Tracey has been an avid reader since her teen years. She started writing, seriously, after her first short story was accepted for an anthology in 2011. Reading books for a living had always been a dream of Tracey’s. She often jokes that she writes to fund her reading habit.
To learn more about Tracey or her books check out her website (click here!).
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.