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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 21 star ratings
4 reviews
)

Overall rating

4.3 out of 5
21
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

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    A hurt-comfort with strengths and weaknesses

    First things first, this book is more angst-driven and intense than the blurb suggested and, as it stands at the time I am writing this review, the blurb is lacking a LOT of content warnings. If you do have triggers that include suicide, anxiety attacks, rape, or child prostitution, I urge you to take care of yourself and tread carefully. I’m often drawn to hurt-comfort romances because there’s so much potential for a strong emotional connection. Yes, you may see characters at their most vulnerable, but good stories also let you see the characters at their strongest. When it comes to the strong emotions, difficult experiences, and hard truths plus the sweet victories, Relationship Material delivered. And yet, something was missing. I felt for the horrendous things Evan endured, was saddened by the harsh experiences Malcolm had as a young adult, and celebrated when things went well for the two of them. However, I was never tethered to their story. I didn’t feel truly invested in their relationship, nor did I feel that magic growing between them. My disconnect was especially clear in that, as difficult as some of the subjects covered in Relationship Material were, I never felt the raw, emotional response I would expect from this style of hurt-comfort romance. That said, I appreciated the author’s honest portrayal of how trauma shapes a person’s responses, particularly regarding Evan’s comfort with sex and physical intimacy. Relationship Material doesn’t rest on the “love solves everything” platform. Instead, readers get to see characters work through their triggers, responses, and issues in order to create a healthy base for their relationship. I do wish the same care was extended to readers who may go into Relationship Material expecting a bit more lightness, rather than the angst-driven story that reflects on the impact trauma has on individuals and their future relationships. *eARC received via Netgalley. The author and publisher had no influence over this review*
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Stunning Story, Beautifully Written

    Jenya Keefe’s Relationship Material is one of the finest books I’ve read this year. Poignant and heartfelt, Ms. Keefe gets right to the core of these characters and strips them bare. These are two intense men, and even though I didn’t have anything in common with either of them I had no trouble relating to both of them. It is a testament to the skill of Jenya Keefe’s beautiful writing that I got so wrapped up in this marvelous story. Attracted to each other right off the bat, it’s fun to watch Mal and Evan flirt and chase and eventually give in. While they connect well physically, Evan has no intention of opening himself up, and Mal has no intention of letting Evan get away with that. It’s fascinating to watch these two characters interact, and to see the impact their relationship has on both of them throughout the course of the story. As their romance unfolds and more information comes to light, Relationship Material just sucked me in. Ms. Keefe weaves a stunning tale, and combined with her unique and engaging writing style this new author is definitely one to watch!
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    More than wonderful story! A mustread

    Gosh, *a very content sigh* What a beautiful story this was. I couldn’t anticipate the fact that behind that title and cover a shining gem was hidden. Even the blurb didn’t do right to the beauty of this story, (sorry, I know blurbs are nightmares) For me, it was one emotional rollercoaster. An unbelievable good written story about slowly getting attached, emotional and physical, to life again, to let people in, to trust. Evan can’t believe his eyes when his sister Caroline stands before him. It was sixteen years ago since he disappeared, unwillingly. Very carefully he let her into his life. When he meets Car her best Mal, he recognizes the type of man. ‘Relationship Material’ so not what Evan can handle, ever! So far it seems a nice regular story. But don’t be fooled, it is from a whole different level. Evan has a past so hard when you get to know this, you will be flabbergasted. His present condition isn’t healthy at all and you'll understand! Mal his past isn’t nice either. He also has bad experiences with boyfriends. And that’s an understatement. Evan is not very approachable and Mal has to pull out all the stops. And oh boy there are some bittersweet encounters. What a story. With Mal as a counterbalance for all the overwhelming events in this story, the whole picture grew more and more into the gem it was. The description of little gestures, the attention to the little but oh so important body language made it all very intense. The hurt, the constantly distancing from good things was almost unbearable. Both Evan and Mal are engaging personalities. Very lovable, vulnerable and all well developed. Dulcie is Evan’s therapy dog and omg what a lovely well deserved part did she got in this story. The whole story was a solid, consistently written, very appealing journey. I was tethered to my sofa and couldn’t put this story down. It was all so very impressive. All those feelings! So I read and read until I finished it.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    sweet and engaging

    This was a lovely book. The two main characters left me with tears in my eyes more than once as they struggled to navigate the treacherous waters of Evan’s trauma and on-going recovery. This is about more than the central (and hot!) romance; it’s about healing, family and the way we navigate life. This book is also about power and control: what do we really have control over? What gives someone power? Not having experienced any sexual or violent trauma myself, I can’t speak to how accurate the subject matter of this book is. It does read as well thought out and well-intentioned. This book might be triggering for anyone who has lived through a similar experience. One of the things I appreciated most was that Evan is a registered nurse. I know from personal experience that people will often ask those living with panic/anxiety hor they are able to “do a job” that some perceive as stressful. I loved the way that Evan was able to explain that he enjoyed his work. The descriptions of panic and anxiety seemed true to my experience of them, and I appreciated that the author consistently gave Evan a voice that was confident even when he was uncertain. As walled off and uncertain Evan is, Mal is also a flawed character and I liked that the author put them on level ground with one another. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the slowly evolving romance in this book, it’s that we are all imperfect and none of us can know what those around us have lived through. The relationship between Mal and Evan was sweet, caring and complex. Despite the brevity of this novel, I found that I was definitely invested in these characters and how or if things would work out. My only regret is that the book wasn’t longer. I would have loved to have watched this author tackle some of the on-going issues that would come up when dealing with a past tainted by such violence, loss, and trauma. As full of sadness and trauma as this story is, I loved it. There’s hope laced throughout Evan’s story, even from the fragile beginnings.
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