This is a book review for Razing Kayne by Julieanne Reeves, available here:
Like many others, I discovered this book when I learned of the author’s sudden death in her sleep, leaving two young children and a husband behind. I think it’s a testament to both our book community and to her skill and warmth that a great number of people chose to push her book up the charts, both in tribute to her and in order to build some sort of legacy for those she left behind. I had never heard of her, but I read the story, downloaded the book and passed the link on so that others could help.
I would urge you to do the same, not just because it’s a nice thing to do and we’ve lost one of our own, but because it’s actually a really bloody good book. Although we’d seen the good reviews and thought the storyline sounded excellent, I think we were all taken by surprise by how much we enjoyed it.
I give 5* of 5* to this book.
It’s very much a story of two parts. In the beginning we meet the characters – Kayne and Jess. Both of them suffered a tragic event two years previously. Kayne, a Police officer, came home from work just in time to see his wife kill herself. Two of his children lie dead on the bathroom floor, drowned. The third is nowhere to be found. Believing his wife to be the murderer and having himself suffered intense scrutiny and suspicion, since she shot herself with his service weapon, he ends up leaving town to move to the mountains.
There we meet Jess. Her husband was a firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty when a vehicle exploded as he was trying to save a baby girl. She adopted that baby girl, along with the other adopted children she already had, and is living as a single mum.
When Jess and Kayne meet during a routine traffic stop, the sparks fly and they are incredibly attracted to each other until it seems that fate has a bonus card to play that will either bring them together or destroy them forever.
The second half of the book sees the past unravelling and you learn that actually not all is as it seems. It becomes a story about the meaning of family, about the lengths to which you would go to save the people you love and the value of forgiveness.
I wholeheartedly and without reservation adored this book. It has its faults – the turning point of the story is a coincidence that’s just too convenient to be possible and the solution the judge imposes probably isn’t legal anywhere – but you tell yourself that sometimes the one in a billion chance pans out and you get right back on board with the story.
The strength of the book is in its characters. I just loved Kayne – he’s possibly my new number 1 book boyfriend. He’s cocky and funny at the same time as being so vulnerable. He’s an all round decent guy that does the best he can with what he has and loves the people in his heart with a fierceness that was just emotional and beautiful to read.
Jess is a fascinating character too. She has so many personal demons. At first you think that her husband was something of a hero and then you realise that actually he was a domineering, unpleasant and unfaithful rat who left her with some serious emotional scars and damaged self esteem. Her attraction to Kayne tears her in two. She’s convinced she’s not good enough for him, but she wants him almost as much as she doesn’t want him moving in on her family because then they’ll all be hurt when the ‘inevitable’ happens and he realises she’s not good enough for him.
Add in some great supporting characters – the great team of Del, Rafe and Trace, along with the superbly creepy and possessive Cody – and several flashes of humour that actually did make me laugh out loud and you have something really quite special.
It doesn’t even stop there. So many times lately I’ve read books that have one-dimensional, one track plots. Not so with this one. It’s a complex story of many twists and turns. There were a few that caught me totally by surprise. The darkness that follows them is born a generation back but it tangles up so many threads in its tentacles, from across the lives of all the characters. I think the detail helped here too – I gather that Reeves used to work as a Police dispatcher, and it shows. The knowledge is clearly there and it gives it a depth of realism that’s essential.
Her style of writing is great too. I got totally absorbed and read the whole thing in two sittings. It was easy to get wrapped up in the lives of this unconventional family and I was very emotionally invested in them.
Overall, I’m feeling an almost unbearable sadness that we’ll never read any more books by this author. She had an amazing talent and it feels like a bright spark has been snuffed out. It’s a crying shame.