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Release Reviews: Misinformation: Keelan Ellis

Misinformation
Keelan Ellis

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Released June 15, 2016
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Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo 

Ethan Daniels, host of a popular conservative cable news program, has never thought of his bisexuality as a problem, though he has never acted on his attraction to men. Since his divorce, that desire has become more acute. When he meets Charlie Woods, his daughter's first grade teacher, they have an instant spark, but Ethan hesitates to act. His contract is up for renewal, there are already rumors swirling about him because of a brief encounter from his past, and the last thing his employers want is for one of their stars to come out publicly.

Charlie avoids romantic entanglements because he prefers living on his own terms. He keeps love and sex completely separate, never seeing anyone more than a few times. Hooking up with a closeted celebrity like Ethan seems safe from emotional involvement, even if they have to keep their fledgling relationship secret.

The last thing they expect is to fall in love, but their strong mutual attraction moves them both to make changes neither of them thought they wanted or needed.

Misinformation is the first book I have read by author Keelan Ellis. I really liked the premise of the story, and while it wasn’t a bad read overall, I just didn’t connect to it as much as I hoped I would.

Ethan Daniels swallowed his pride to take the position as an anchor of a news program on an ultraconservative television news network in order to stay near his six-year old daughter, Fiona, after his ex-wife moves to New York to further her career. Being active in Fiona’s life is too important to him, so he buries his views and compartmentalizes the aspects of his life in order to maintain his sanity—it doesn’t hurt that the money is good too. He has always known he is attracted to men, but until his divorce, it was an urge he never felt the need to act upon. When he meets Fiona’s first-grade teacher, Charlie Woods, he is attracted, but with rumors circulating about his sexuality threatening the renewal of his contract at the network, he is reluctant to act. Charlie refuses to see someone more than a time or two because he doesn’t want a romantic entanglement, so Ethan’s need to stay closeted makes him a perfect candidate for Charlie to hook up with. Neither expects the spark to become anything more, but a relationship between a man whose career depends on maintaining an image suitable for an ultra-right-wing audience and his daughter’s teacher can only work if both are willing to make changes.

There is an adage—okay, a cliché really—that distinguishes the sort of writing found in things like police reports (this happened, then this happened, and finally this happened) from the highly evocative prose found in most novels: “show, don’t tell.” It’s a way to remind authors that instead of telling the reader what is happening, they should strive to make the reader feel what’s happening, to insert the reader into the story as if she were a part of it. Granted, there are situations when telling is the appropriate style for a story, and there are some authors who do it spectacularly well. Since romance novels are all about evoking strong emotional responses among the readers, large-scale telling typically doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, Misinformation is a good example of this problem. For the most part, the book contains dialogue scenes that read pretty well that are separated by these lists of things that happened between them and rather bland descriptions of the people and places surrounding the characters. As a result, I had a difficult time feeling much of anything while I was reading. I couldn’t get wrapped up in the story, no matter how much I liked the idea of what was going on. The relationship that develops between Ethan and Charlie sounded like it had intense feelings, but I sure couldn’t feel them. Because I didn’t connect to the characters, I had way too much time on my hands while reading where I could notice issues I had with the plot, the characters decisions, and the like. When my brain has time to process noticing when the author uses “reticent” incorrectly as a synonym for “reluctant” or uses “jealousy” where she meant “envy,” it doesn’t say much for my appreciation of the storytelling. Oh, and another portion of my brain had time to count how many times someone vomited in the book. Vomiting is not sexy. Ever. (No, it didn't happen during a sexy scene, that's not the point.)

It’s really too bad, because I liked the story she was telling. I just wasn’t interested all that much because of how she told it. Perhaps if Misinformation had been written as a play instead of a novel, it would have been much better. After all, I thought the dialogue was good, and everything between the dialogue scenes in a play is just stage direction, so it doesn’t matter if it’s just told instead of shown. And I’m quite sure if Ethan and Charlie were played by Channing Tatum and Chris Hemsworth, not only would I have felt the characters, well… you get the picture.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Misinformation in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Ethan Daniels is a host on a conservative cable talk show. It pays well and allows him to live near his daughter and ex-wife, but it sucks a bit of his soul daily. There are expectations in his public image that he is supposed to meet. The fact that he is still single and there are rumors about his sexuality are not on the network's approved list. And his new discovery, that he is attracted to one man in particular is something that he can't let get out.

Charlie Woods is his daughter's first grade teacher. He is smart, attractive, gay, and out. The two men stumble into a physical relationship that has potential for more. But due to their circumstances, it seems impossible. Ethan is in the public eye and has a lot to lose. Charlie also has professional standards. How can something that feels so right be such a conflict of interest?

This is Ethan's journey towards figuring out what he can live with and what he really needs in his life. It is his exploration of his own needs, wants, and priorities. And for Charlie, who is a commitment phobe, this is a new experience for him to want to try at a relationship. Ethan struggles with what is fair to expect of Charlie and what being honest in public will do to his family and his job.

This is definitely a process for Ethan. He has to figure out who he really is and wants to be, deal with external stressors, his career,  and possible public scrutiny. I will admit that I got frustrated with him at times. I wanted him to be more decisive and stand up for what he believed in. With some things it felt like there could have been other solutions and alternatives if he looked around more for them. Sometimes he made poor or impulsive choices and other times he seemed to be too afraid to change. Bottom line, he had to find a way to regain his self respect and also that of Charlie. And I had an issue with Charlie too that seemed like it should have been causing more worry. Charlie was skittish about relationships, but seemed to not worry enough about his own career. So some of the plot and character choices had me scratching my head a bit.

I had a hard time truly connecting with the characters at times. They were likable enough and I liked them together in theory. But I did not get feels from the story or them. It felt like I was being told what was happening without really seeing or feeling it. More like watching them from a distance rather than being right there with them. This was an issue during the course of the story, including the sex scenes.

I liked the theme of standing up for what you believe in and being who you want to be. I liked that they both had to take a chance, weigh the risks, and make compromises.

I enjoyed the side characters of Dierdre, Fiona, Josh, Janice, Roland, Girish, and Charlie's family. They added support and a sounding board when needed. I liked that Dierdre was not the typical ex- wife shrew.

This story had some unique elements with the main characters having to meet conservative expectations, scrutiny, and issues with coming out. And it also had the teacher-parent of a student trope. So there were plenty of situations to cause angst and drama. But my heart was not really feeling it with them. It was not easy for them, but in the end it was a hard fought battle to find happiness.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Keelan Ellis Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Keelan Ellis is a true crime enthusiast, a political junkie, and a comedy fan. Despite a compulsion to sometimes wallow in the depths of humanity’s corruption and sadness, she considers herself a romantic at heart. The stories she really connects with are about love that’s been twisted into hatred, and she believes that with honesty and forgiveness, love can overcome. Keelan loves good bourbon and classic country music, great television and well-prepared food, especially shared with like-minded people. She’s not a fan of parties and large groups of people, but there’s nothing she loves more than a long conversation with friends. Her favorite part of the writing process is the collaborative stage, hashing out plot and characters with smart and talented friends. It’s where she truly comes to understand the people she’s writing about, and often falls in love with them. With the support and encouragement--as well as some serious editing help--Keelan has found the writing niche she’s always searched for. Sometimes she gets blocked, and when that happens, there’s only one thing she knows to do. Just like Inigo Montoya, she goes back to the beginning, writing about the characters who inspired her so much in the past.



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