Snakes Among Sweet Flowers - Jason Huffman-Black

Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

Really, move along!

One of the first things you realize about the book I’ve just read is that my kindle is totally hightlighed. And if you begin reading all those quotes I decided to emphasize, you notice very few are emotive sentences or poetic paragraphs. They are not at all wise nor epic. No, what I underlined here were thoughts, dialogues, actions… that really made it for me. Because they were clever, spot-on, neat and they followed my train of thought. They put into words exactly what I was thinking at the same pace I was forming them.

It’s as if the author was a step ahead of my mind and noting down exactly what I was going to say. Every remark that threatened to come out of my mouth was suddently silenced with ink.

(I meant kindle ink, of course)

It may sound creepy but in truth I love it when an author doesn’t treat me like an idiot. When he doesn’t expect me to buy the story blindly and be content with accepting what’s being thrown at me for me to pick it up and say “Well, if you say so…”. No, he kept giving me reasons, here and there, about WHY I should go on. He kept giving reasons, not hoping for me to overlook the corniness or the idyllic life in Pleasantville or the gradual change of a twice reo and oportunistic scammer and the development of that closeted boy-next-door local policeman.

This was damn good stuff indeed.

Yes, I admit the book got me curious due to the cover. Nobody can blame me, right? It’s the first I’ve read of this author and that’s always risky, but the pull was strong nonetheless. When I began the reading, I instantly noticed one thing: the quality. It was quite obvious since the very beginning this wouldn’t another clumsy try of a novel. This was indeed a solid novel. It’s like being given a piece of bread to dip it in the yellow liquid on the dish and recognizing virgin extra olive oil instantly, with no doubt whatsoever. I don’t consider myself an expert taste-tester, and surely my taste buds are different from everyone else’s, but I could easily foresee this would be something big. That’s when Jason really got my attention and I’m pleased to say it didn’t fade ever since.

Jason is like the voice that spoke directly to me, no bullshit and no excuses getting in the middle, just brutal honesty and neat smartness. That’s the word, this book is smart, in every sense that matters.

It may be shocking to say I laughed a lot here. But, oh my God, I really laughed. Constantly. I was so delighted and happy as a clam, you wouldn’t believe. It’s not a humorous book, if that’s what you are thinking. In truth there is nothing hilarious per se here. Just the opposite, serious matters are at stake for the most part of the novel. No. It’s just that I felt so in sync with the characters that every thought of theirs hit the exact target within me and I couldn’t hold my joy and exhilaration for too long. I was a total fan of them, I was in the first row in the threatre, cheering them up and fangirling in an embarrassing way.

I even feigned a faint.

Yes, I know, I have no dignity.

Shut up.

And then we have to talk about the chemistry… and the I-hate-you-on-sight banter. Best aphrodisiac ever, it promised that when this animosity between them “solved”, there would be a long delicious catch-up and THAT’S when I would of course grab my tons of bread I had been preparing awhile in order to dip it into all that mouth-watering olive oil served on a silver platter for my enjoyment only. And I don’t mean the sex. Well, that’s not the only reason, at least.

Ñam ñam (Why the “ñ” here, girl? Was it really necessary? Shut up.)

I loved the characters. They were real, they were clearly defined and totally believable and with depth. Jackson is fantastic. The ideolised golden boy everybody adores but whose life is not as perfect as everybody is lead to believe. He’s scared of coming out and he doesn’t exactly have it in his agenda to be honest about it publicly. Oh no, that’s the last thing on his list.

(The Spanish flag? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you, girl? *whistles*)

However, I have to admit Cam was the one for me. He is this distrustful shady guy who believes the world’s only goal is to make him harm. His attitude, his tattoos, his do-not-fuck-with-me expression don’t exactly invite people to confide in him, but, surprisingly, everybody trusts him (above all when he’s willing to be charming and seductive, and at this stake nobody can resist him) which shocks and frustrates him to no end. When he comes to Pleasantville Hog Mountain, everybody seems so nice and neighborly he doesn’t know how to respond. In the beginning he rubs his hands with greed realizing the has endless chances to take an advantage of all this guileness. Piece of cake! But bit by bit, these “pieces of cake” begin conquering him, and he’s more and more prompted to bring good and keep at bay all the muddy ugliness of his past. His evolution is paced and credible, and I followed all his steps, his confusion and all those longings he starts to let himself have. He’s the one that made me laugh the most. We truly were on the same page *bumps fist*.

So here we are, a policeman that takes no bullshit from Cam and watches every step Cam makes waiting for the smallest of mistakes or any slip-up he can find, and an exreo who knows exactly what Jackson is doing and tries to push every button of his and find every reason to drive Jackson mad. When the shit finally hits the fan and an unexpected turn of events drives the plot to a different direction, things are put in their place and everything begins to fit between them. I liked how natural their relationship is, no forced nor rushed conclusion whatsoever, but a nicely done ending I found more than satisfying. I could perfectly picture them both happily together in the following years.

I even loved the secondary ones, even when they are going to be sappy, they were not. When someone was going to fit into a certain stereotype, they demonstrated they weren’t going to. When I thought the rhythm of the story would get stuck there was yet another surprise that kept the action going. When I believed the scene was going to be overstretched, more material was given, so it never got drained.

So, all in all, this was a winner.

“You are a lot different than I thought you would be. A pleasant surprise.”

I agree wholeheartedly.


BR with Ann!

***Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***