Sunday, July 27, 2014

If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones

{Review} If I Were You
Title: If I Were You (Inside Out #1)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Published: March 12th, 2013 by Gallery Books
Pages: 384
{Thank you Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and Netgalley for providing this in return for an honest review}

How it all started…
One day I was a high school teacher on summer break, leading a relatively uneventful but happy life. Or so I told myself. Later, I’d question that, as I would question pretty much everything I knew about me, my relationships, and my desires. It all began when my neighbor thrust a key to a storage unit at me. She’d bought it to make extra money after watching some storage auction show. Now she was on her way to the airport to elope with a man she barely knew, and she needed me to clear out the unit before the lease expired.

Soon, I was standing inside a small room that held the intimate details of another woman’s life, feeling uncomfortable, as if I was invading her privacy. Why had she let these items so neatly packed, possessions that she clearly cared about deeply, be lost at an auction? Driven to find out by some unnamed force, I began to dig, to discover this woman’s life, and yes, read her journals—-dark, erotic journals that I had no business reading. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I read on obsessively, living out fantasies through her words that I’d never dare experience on my own, compelled by the three men in her life, none of whom had names. I read onward until the last terrifying dark entry left me certain that something had happened to this woman. I had to find her and be sure she was okay.

Before long, I was taking her job for the summer at the art gallery, living her life, and she was nowhere to be found. I was becoming someone I didn’t know. I was becoming her.

The dark, passion it becomes…

Now, I am working at a prestigious gallery, where I have always dreamed of being, and I’ve been delivered to the doorstep of several men, allof which I envision as one I’ve read about in the journal. But there is one man that will call to me, that will awaken me in ways I never believed possible. That man is the ruggedly sexy artist, Chris Merit, who wants to paint me. He is rich and famous, and dark in ways I shouldn’t find intriguing, but I do. I so do. I don’t understand why his dark side appeals to me, but the attraction between us is rich with velvety promises of satisfaction. Chris is dark, and so are his desires, but I cannot turn away. He is damaged beneath his confident good looks and need for control, and in some way, I feel he needs me. I need him.

All I know for certain is that he knows me like I don’t even know me, and he says I know him. Still, I keep asking myself — do I know him? Did he know her, the journal writer, and where is she? And why doesn’t it seem to matter anymore? There is just him and me, and the burn for more.

First off, this book is for mature readers because it contains sexual content and explicit language.  So I have a very strong weakness when it comes to book to movie/TV show adaptations so when I found out that STARZ was making the Inside Out Trilogy into a show, I had to give it a shot.  I normally do not gravitate to romance/erotica books, but since this book seemed to have more, I thought it was a great place to start.  The synopsis of this book sounded intriguing and I have really been drawn to mystery books lately, but unfortunately I felt kind of wishy-washy about this book.  Some aspects had me at the edge of my seat, while others made me cringe.  

The writing was not fantastic, but it was not horrible either.  I really liked how Rebecca’s journal entries were written, with Jones giving just enough information to keep me on the edge of my seat, but not enough for me to even guess who the man featured in the journals were.  I did have an issue with character’s feelings (mainly Sara’s) being constantly reiterated over and over again.  I found myself skimming over parts, especially between about 50%-80% because the characters just kept re-hashing the same events and feelings.  I do think a lot of readers will like the intimate scenes that Jones’s wrote in this novel; however, I had some problems with them.  I do feel that they would appeal to many women, as can be seen from the wonderful reviews from Goodreads, but it was just not for me.  I am not a prude about sex scenes in books, but most intimate scenes I have read have been in New Adult books, which were significantly tamer than this book.  I am also not too fond of men in books who are possessive and these men defiantly take possessive to an all new extreme.  I hate when women are suppose to find it sexy that they are possessed by a man and are “owned” by a man.  

I liked the plot of the novel, especially the mystery part.  I really loved the first half of this book when it was exploring the journals and what might have happened to Rebecca.  However, then the book switched gears and focused mainly on the relationship between Sara and Chris.  I did like that it build on their relationship and focused on character development, but if felt like the whole mystery aspect completely fell off the table until it popped back in at the very end of the book.  I wish that the book would have been more evenly balanced instead of switching gears so frequently.  I did really like the mystery aspect and loved that Jones never gave too much away.  I honestly can say that I have no idea what is going to happen.  This book surprised me a lot, especially at the end when it left off on a huge cliffhanger.  

I had a love/hate relationship with a lot of the characters in this book.  I initially really liked Sara as a character, but at about the 50% mark, I started to get annoyed with her.  I thought she lacked common sense and is obviously drawn to damaged men.  I think any women in their right mind would leave the situation she was in, but then again, Sara is damaged herself and so it is hard to say if this is a character flaw.  I have nothing against characters that are unlikable (on purpose or otherwise), but it just makes it harder for me to relate to the situations and feelings the author is trying to evoke.  I found myself rolling my eyes and being uncomfortable reading some of the scenes (particularly the sex scenes) because of it.  I also felt the same way about Sara as I do about Chris, who initially was charming and sexy, but quickly turned into a bipolar jerk.  I felt like my emotions would go back-and-forth with this character all the way until the end of the book, but I think that is what Jones was trying to accomplish.  For some weird reason, I kind of liked Mark as a character, but I could see that changing in the next two books.  As of right now, his mood seemed more stable than Chris’s and although he was possessive, it did not get under my skin as much.

Overall, I am not sure if I enjoyed this book.  I had a lot of mixed feeling since I really liked the first half of the book and then if went flat for me after that.  The fact that I had to skim parts of the book makes me unsure if I want to continue on with the series or just look up what happens at the end.  I am really intrigued about the TV show, which if I like it, may just push me into reading the remainder of the series.  Overall, I do think this book would appeal to a lot of readers, but probably more mature female ones.  I do think that if someone wanted to try giving the romance/erotica genera a try that this would be a great book to start with since it also has an intriguing mystery.  



Make sure to check out Lisa Renee Jones's website.  She has all the books for the Inside Out series listed, as well as news about the upcoming TV show, a playlist for If I Were You, and she has a YouTube channel!

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