Release Review: A Day Makes: Mary Calmes

A Day Makes
Mary Calmes
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Release Date April 19, 2017

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Mob enforcer Ceaton Mercer has killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways - he stashed the last two bodies in a toolshed belonging to a sweetheart marine researcher in an idyllic island community - but he's really not such a bad guy. Over time he's found a home of sorts, and he even learns he's found a place in the hearts of the people he works with...at least enough so that they won't put a bullet in his head because he's outlived his usefulness to the boss.

But he never thought he'd find one day could change his life, and he's about to discover how wrong he is.

Because in a single day, he meets the man who looks to be the one, the love of his life. It's an improbable idea - a man who deals in death finding love - but it's like it's meant to be. That single day gets weirder and troubles pile up, forcing Ceaton to take a hard look at his dreary life and accept that one day can change everything, especially himself. His future might be brighter than he expects - if he can stay alive long enough to find out. 

A Day Makes is my first time reading a story by Mary Calmes, and I’m torn between my thorough enjoyment of the background story and my almost complete irritation over the romantic portion. Granted, the latter comes largely from it taking place in such a brief time period, so the fact that the writing is good and the point-of-view (POV) character is quite fascinating means I can give this one a recommendation in spite of my issues.

The format of the story is a little unusual for a romance. While the first half of the book is almost completely background development of the POV character, a mob enforcer named Ceaton Mercer, the second half fulfills the premise suggested by the title of the book. It’s a day filled with out-of-the-ordinary events for Ceaton, and by the end of the day, much about his life is upended. This is one of those rare stories that I think it’s important for me not to give out any plot details, at least nothing surrounding the background plot, because it’s one of the better page-turner stories I’ve run across lately, so it’s best you experience entirely for yourself.

As a character, Ceaton is the textbook definition of a mensch. Perhaps this sounds odd considering he’s a member of a mob, but everything we learn about him supports the fact that he’s thoughtful and calculating in order to do the right thing not only for those who depend on him to get the job done but also in protecting the innocent from being harmed. While his being gay has never presented a problem for him, his life circumstances have always been the sorts of things that prevent him from being able to be attached to anyone for more than a hook-up. As the reader learns about the events in Ceaton’s past that have forged him into the man he is when the one fateful day arrives, it results not just in an interesting story but also a great character for the reader to sympathize with, despite the fact that he kills people in service to the mob boss.

But this book is billed as a romance, so I found it a little unnerving that when I was approaching the half-way mark in the book, I still had no clue who Ceaton was going to be paired with. As the title suggests, this is part of what happens when the plot finally gets to the day in question. One of the unusual things of that day is that Ceaton is tasked with protecting an unassuming marine biologist named Brinley Todd. Again, I’m not going to reveal anything else as to how he relates to the background story, but it’s a case of insta-lust and insta-love, though events prevent them from really doing anything about it, and not just because Ceaton needs to keep his wits about himself in order to protect Brin.

While the background story of the second half of the book continued to keep me turning pages, it culminates in the two of them being madly in love (unfortunately for my enjoyment, they met maybe ten hours earlier) and finally gets to the one sex scene in the entire book. I’m not a fan of insta-love even when the romance takes place over the course of several weeks or months, but here, it’s all compressed into a single day filled with lots of non-romance action. My dissatisfaction with the romantic pairing also comes from the fact that I failed to get a very good understanding of Brin as a character, nor what it is about Brin that makes Ceaton realize Brin’s the man for him. Instead of being a grand romance, it felt much like the sort of thing that fills a necessary compononet of Hollywood action flicks. There’s no wooing, no build, and no longing. So when they finally get to the sex scene, I didn’t buy the level of connection they shared as being enough to appreciate the style of sex scene that the author intended for it to be.

Perhaps if A Day Makes had not been blurbed like a romance novel, I would have come away with a better overall impression of it, but as it stands, the pairing between Ceaton and Brin simply isn’t the sort of thing I’m looking for when I read a romance. That being said, however, I still think this book is worth the read solely for the background story, as that is without question the more satisfying component of the novel.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of A Day Makes in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Mary Calmes 
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Mary Calmes lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and two children and loves all the seasons except summer. She graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and falling into the work. She can even tell you what her characters smell like. She loves buying books and going to conventions to meet her fans.


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