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Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia

Monday, January 30, 2012

Poughkeepsie #1

Debra Anastasia
Contemporary Romance
Published in 2011

H/h - Blake Hartt/Livia McHugh
Setting: Poughkeepsie, NY, Present time.

Read in Jan, 2012.
My rating:

                                                                   [spoiler alert]

I knew Poughkeepsie would be a tough book for me to review when I was about halfway into it. Mostly because I felt that I need to talk about a lot of things but it’s simply not possible. I enjoyed the book a lot; loved many parts of it but was equally grossed out by a few things. I loved the multiple-voiced narratives, with most of its characters (main or secondary) having their own stories to tell. I’ve honestly never read a book like this in a long while. It was long, yes, but thankfully not boring. Debra Anastasia’s writing took a little time to grow on me but when it did, I couldn’t put it down or didn’t want to when I had other things happening in my life.

Officially, Blake and Livia are the H/h of this book. The blurb might fool you just as it did me. I thought, of course, it’s about the homeless guy and the girl whom he sees in the station, who smiles at him every day. It’s started out like this and I was a bit bored at first. In a few chapters, even though Livia had a boyfriend (before I knew what an a$hole he was), I was thinking WTF? She’s going to leave the guy she’s been seeing for 5 years for a homeless man? Livia is a psychology student and a part-time teacher too. She lives in Poughkeepsie with her dad, a policeman and younger sister Kyle. On her way to collage, she’d see this homeless guy always standing in a shade. She’s smile at him but he’d move away as if he’s scared. Livia didn’t know what to think... until one day, she actually got to meet the man, Blake. Now, yes, I had some troubles at first thinking about Blake’s hygiene. But I have to give credit to the author that she soon made me forget about that. Lol Livia saves Blake from some jerks who were harassing him, which helped as an opener to their very unlikely friendship, that turned into love very soon... too soon for me anyway. A bit unbelievable because although Blake counted Livia’s smiles (he’s a little genius with piano and maths probably... always remembered the number, sometimes even stories behind that particular smile!) and was in love with her, Livia really didn’t know him in that sense. The counting went on for, um, I’m not sure but for a while. But no matter what I thought at first, I totally loved it when every time Blake would count her smile, out loud or silently. It was just too awesome to ignore! Anyway, Livia tries to win Blake’s confidence with food and so on but soon she knew Blake is not like another homeless guy out there. His manners are impeccable, so are his speeches; all polished. And he has an indomitable pride with a great sense of dignity. He would not just ‘take’ food which she might give him with or without ‘pity’. He’d earn his food, doesn’t matter that he’s always hungry. Little snippets of his thoughts like these endeared Blake much to me. Livia soon starts seeing things his way. But she also wants to know what happened to him, why he can’t stand the sun or thinks his skin is made of glass. Being a psychology student, she understood some stuffs but not all to deal with his situation. As their relationship grew, Livia became more and more determined to help Blake. In the meantime, her soon to be ex-boyfriend Chris proposes to her. To Chris, the soft and studious Livia is a like a possession. He’s a self-centered, spoiled f*cker and nothing else. He cheated on her with another slut from their school throughout their relationship. I was amazed that Livia never even had a clue beyond that she didn’t ‘trust’ them together. His attitude and everything that comes with it are totally mean. His so-called compliments to Livia were downright shameful. I don’t know, the more I saw Chris’s POV and got to know him, the more I felt sick... The more I thought how could Livia be so blind (and dumb) to stay with a guy like him for such a long time, let alone sleeping with him? So when she jilts him, which was quite humiliating BTW, Chris is determined to make trouble for them with some of his cohorts. How dare the ‘hobo whore’ treats him like that! God, those were awful; childish, ridiculous and simply disgusting.

Blake is an orphan with a troubled past, obviously. His mother was an alcoholic and he never knew his father. It was some backstory on his life as how he took care of her when the woman was supposed to do that for him and how she turned Blake to social workers one day when he got fed-up with her beating and rebelled. This incident with his mother and broken glasses made a twisted impact on Blake’s mind that formed this fear of the sun. Then, his mother died in a car accident, killing two young girls in the process. Blake met Beckett and Cole in a foster home, both older than him. Now this foster home was another story. The foster father was another pathetic pervert who liked to beat up the children in his care. At first, the big and stronger Beckett took the beating, and then the other two joined in. Pretty compelling, the whole thing was, when you got to learn the strings of incidents differently from Blake’s, Beckett’s and Cole’s POVs, along with their own life story. As I said, the whole book is full of such strings of life stories of the characters which made this book such an intriguing read for me. It left me wanting for more; to know a little more of what happened or what could’ve been.

Beckett is the character who made the most profound impression on me, with both his positive and negative sides. Don’t forget his filthy mouth though. At first, I didn’t know what to think when he’d go a$f*cker in every syllable (and other scintillating stuffs too, my mind won’t help me remember those... I thought this book should’ve been titled ‘Slang Learning 501’, advanced course!). But soon enough I found those funny. It was the way he delivered them, well, most of the times anyway. Beckett could be deadly, ruthless when the cause called for it. Being a gangsta and a drug dealer is no easy profession mind you! He could also be a clownish jerk with his eye-brow waggling and that filthy mouth to go with it. He can be a very protective big brother to Blake and Cole when it’s necessary (and for Livia and Kyle along with Eve and Mouse later on), doing anything for them as he did from his teens. He did everything for his brothers, even selling himself for money because it was necessary. Beckett has emotions that no one can even imagine. He doesn’t at all look like the sort on the surface, with his bulging muscles and his bad-boy-tough-guy attitudes. And he kept surprising me at every turn. Then, along came Eve, the deadly beauty, a killing machine. Her life story was very heart tugging; a young girl who had hopes and dreams that went away with the death of her fiancée and her unborn daughter in a car accident. Ironically, it was one of Beckett’s ‘businesses’ that caused this. She came to Beckett to kill him (and I still don’t know how she became this deadly killing machine over the years) but she couldn’t. Her beauty mesmerized Beckett, who never really bothered about his other f*ckbuddies. There were other juicy stuffs about his sexual prowess I decided not to think about. But, his attraction to Eve wasn’t just another physical thing and even Beckett understood that. So did Eve. I loved their texts to each-other when they weren’t yet lovers. Just hilarious! Beckett would always try to rile her up with his innuendos (and funny typos all over them) while Eve would jab out something equally unflattering about Beckett and his sexual prowess. Let me give you a little example:
Beckett started the Hummer and texted Eve:
Tak4e Ur Cloth3s OFF Im on my qway
Her reply came back quick as lightning:
Take ur clothes off and f*ck yourself.
Muahaha! *grins like a lunatic*

Needless to say, those didn’t deter Beckett because they both enjoyed it. I wish I read more of those in the story.

Cole is a priest in the making. He lives in a church, helps out the elderly priest there with the kindness from the elderly people of the community. He’s very determined to return their kindness to the fullest. I didn’t talk about the tattoo all three brothers have in their arm- of a gun, a piano and a cross entwined together. I liked how the brothers would greet each-other, that tattoo playing an important role in it. The tattoo sort of held them together too, reminding them of their past, their present and probably, their future as well.

After Livia met Blake, we get to see more of her life. She has her own problems. Her mother left them when she and Kyle were young. It was plain that their father loved her but she wasn’t the type to settle down in a family. While Livia, being the eldest, held her father’s attention as ‘his girl’, Kyle grew up with lots of vulnerabilities. She blamed herself for many things (including her mother’s abandonment of them) and made really bad choices in life. Livia’s father is a bit of a distant type, though not cold, he never really knew the kind of lifestyle Kyle is living. Kyle also has a serious filthy mouth that more often than not rivals Beckett’s. If you want a stellar example, you can check out the beautiful scene in the Poughkeepsie station between Beckett and Kyle, just after Blake and Livia got married. I rolled my eyes while reading that because there was no other way I could react to their code of communication. Now, whereas I found Beckett’s funny, Kyle’s annoyed me a lot. She had NO filter whatsoever, so sometimes her description of ‘things’ would gross the hell outta me (example: the day after she was rescued by Cole from the nightclub, things she was screaming to Livia from her bathroom... I am NOT going to quote that, eek!). And yes, she was having a lot of meaningless one night stands, among other things. There’s no nice to way to explain how she lived and it was so total opposite of Livia. I felt for her but I just thought she was stupid, living such a waste of a life. She never sought out help, until one day when her wild lifestyle caught up with her. But she had Cole by then who acted as her savior. They met through Livia but honestly, I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. So when they fell for each-other on the 1st sight, it didn’t feel ok. I wasn’t really interested in their relationship though it had a HEA in the end. I was more interested in Beckett and Eve, not even Blake and Livia, though I really liked Blake. I believed in their chemistry much more (oh, Beckett is one sexy b*tch! hahaha ;) ). But alas, there was no HEA for Beckett and Eve! So would there be a book for them? Because otherwise, I’ll be in a cranky mood for a long time.

I loved Mouse too. Yes, I’m talking about the characters because this book was about its characters, ordinary and flawed people with their very extraordinary stories. Stories that DA made so very interesting for us. I think Mouse and his dearest meemaw’s story made me cry more than once. He was a big, hulking man yet he loved to knit, a gift from his meemaw. He had the softest heart, although he worked as Beckett’s bodyguard (there is another story of how they 1st met as boys) and people would usually be scared of his size. A contradiction, Mouse was. His devotion towards Beckett and all the nice things he did for him... wow, I couldn’t help crying, reading the way Mouse left the world. It was so thoroughly unfair and not ok! It alone made me take away half a star. Don’t even get me started on the tattoo he made and what that signified when comparing with Beckett, Cole and Blake’s tattoo. *sniffs*

Then there were more characters and their stories, including Dr Hartt. I loved reading his story too. It was heart breaking. I hated his callous, irresponsible (and revolting) father. Dr. Harrt’s relationship with Blake and Eve was a revelation. I knew about Eve of course but didn’t see the one with Blake coming. It had me there and felt soooo good that after all this time Blake finally found a family, even though by then he’s calling Livia his only family.

Back to the main story. As I was saying earlier, Chris was making trouble for Blake and Livia, which involved Eve and Beckett inevitably because Beckett always kept tracks on his brothers and whoever is trying to be an arse to them. Cole and Kyle also got involved because of their relationship with each-other and to Blake and Livia. To sort out the troubles, Eve had to plan some eliminations to clear things up. I didn’t like it at all. Mindless killings never make a good read for me! Then what Beckett did to Chris at the end *shudders* kinda took my interest away from the story. Blake was badly injured from Chris’s attacks and Livia stayed with him the entire process of his recovery. Cole and Kyle also got themselves in some mess (as I mentioned in my paragraph on Kyle). Cole saved her but it unleashed something about him, something he’d hidden away from an early age. Although Kyle saw it all, her faith in Cole never faltered. Beckett stepped in and with Eve’s help, cleared Cole’s name. Actually authorities never knew that Cole did anything. Then one of Beckett’s own man betrays them and leaves nasty trails that got mixed up with Chris’s stupid a$$ actions. Things/events, as outrageous as they were, just kept happening here and there in these last 20 or so chapters that held me glued to the book. When it all were (apparently) sorted out, Cole and Kyle suddenly planned a marriage and got on with it. Beckett, the poor babe, had to make some life altering decisions that included the most important people in his life- his brothers (now, their wives too) and Eve. He kept himself hidden because of the ‘Chris incident’ as Police were looking for him. Eve met him in his hiding place, kept him up-to-date about what’s going on and let him have his way with her, with a lot of love from both sides of course. Meanwhile, Blake proposes to Livia. They marry. But when I understood that Beckett and Eve’s not getting their HEA, I just skipped through those pages. Yah, well, good for the happy couples but I WANT TO READ ‘BOUT BECKETT! Geez.

So, as a whole experience, Poughkeepsie was super. It had almost everything; tears and laughters, action movie-type violence too but above all, love shone through. I hope I’ve clarified why I liked this book so much but couldn’t give it a full 5 star. I also loved the chapter headers/titles. Those were quite unique. My most favorite was probably ‘Restless C*ck Syndrome’, courtesy of our one and only gangsta babe. You might wanna keep reading the chapter for further clarification and see what happened to the lady in the bank where Beckett was also waiting in a line with her... God, I was rolling on my bed, laughing! *silly, monkey grin* 4.25 stars and I leave my review with a wish for Beckett’s story following soon. I need that book damn it!

*off to curve ‘I ♥ Beckett’ on a tree*

Favorite quotes
One already quoted in my review, a few more are below...
“He kept his head down in what seemed to be a prayer. “He counts. You’ve smiled at him four hundred and forty-six times as of a few minutes ago. He announces the number every time I see him.”
But Blake infused hope in his music. Love was the only song he knew how to play.
Eve held his eyes and confidently licked the length of the razor-sharp blade with the tip of her tongue. Red blood beaded up on her tongue, and she licked her lips, giving them a fresh coat of color. Eve used the knife to blow a kiss in Beckett’s direction and disappeared into the crowd. Beckett forgot to keep dancing. He stood stock still with Kyle still twirling around him.
Eve had just f*cked his mind so hard, he wanted to smoke a cigarette and cuddle like some soap-watching woman.


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I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. My blog Punya Reviews just turned 6 in 2017 and still going strong. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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