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Monday, September 16, 2013

Mr. Real by Carolyn Crane

From Goodreads:

He finds the girl of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares.

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.

Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow.

But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?

Many of us created imaginary friends or fictional characters when we were younger who exhibit the things we cannot.  They might be smarter, stronger, prettier, more out-going, risk-takers, super heroes or evil villains, able to express themselves in ways that wouldn't be acceptable even if we could.  The facets of their personalities are probably exaggerated in that we're assuaging our own insecurities that we created them to combat.  I have such a character, his name is Jenner and he came into being during math class in junior high.  He's one odd duck, that's for sure.  In him is all of my helpless teen rage and sorrow, and I love him even now at 40 years old.  I always will.  He's the "me" I couldn't be, that could handle everything thrown at him with a casual disdain, no matter how much it might have hurt him inside, that "Do what you want, who cares?" expression in place all the while.  He's also a crazy risk-taker that as a shy introvert I was fascinated by but could never be.  Besides, most of those things were truly crazy and not something that I should have done anyway!  But he's fictional, so in addition to having a dozen different backstories, he could afford to do insane stuff because he wouldn't get hurt, much. ;)

So why did I feel the need to confess to you about my "imaginary friend" in what is supposed to be a review for Mr. Real?  Because I get this book, and it gets me.  I added it to my wishlist as soon as I knew about it for the author alone.  I had read part of Carolyn's Disillusionist series that gets me in a whole different way.  I identify with Justine from that series just a little too much during some of her introspective moments.  Mr. Real sounded completely different and like it would be a lot of fun, and it definitely lived up to that!  There's a little bit of everything, supernatural, secret agents, thwarted love that gets back on track,  a super villain, it's just action all around!

While I didn't click with Alix the same way I feel bonded to Justine, what I did feel for was Paul's coming to terms with his alter ego Sir Kendall.  It was a brilliant emotional piece of this story that really hit home to me.  While I've never been at odds with Jenner the way Paul despised Sir Kendall, I can still imagine how that might come to pass when all you want to do is cut that part of your life away but you can't escape after letting him into the real world through a commercial.  Paul is coming to terms with accepting himself and a painful part of his life, and the scene where that finally happens was powerful to me.

This is a super fun book and it has the interesting convolutions of plot that I have come to love and associate with Carolyn's writing.  It is by turns silly, thrilling and touching.  I highly recommend it the next time you're looking for an entertaining, humorous read with substance.  I'm definitely interested in more!

Carolyn Crane's Website

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