Welcome, one and all, to another MDM Projects book review. Today, I’m looking at A World Apart by Mel Gough. By way of disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review. I should also point out that the book is currently available from NineStar Press, who also published my novel Addict.
Background: German born Mel Gough currently lives in London, England. She has been an avid reader form a young age and A World Apart (released September 18th 2017) is her debut novel.
The book is a M/M contemporary romance that follows bisexual cop Ben Griers as he deals with both the breakdown of his marriage and his growing attraction to a redneck named Donnie Saunders. The book comes with a content warning due to the mention of childhood abuse and the warts and all portrayal of serious medical issues.
The Good: I’m going to start with the content warning here, specifically the medical side of things. I won’t spoil what exactly is being put across in the book, largely because I feel that would lessen the impact for readers, but it’s safe to say that the warning is needed. Mel does not try to lessen the effects of the conditions being portrayed, nor does she dance around the very real consequences of both the illness and the necessary treatments. This is in itself a real positive for me because, while it does make for some uncomfortable moments, it gives the scenario the respect it deserves rather than romanticising it.
I also want to give a shout-out to our protagonist Ben here. Sure, he comes across as a nice guy, and you certainly feel for him given his circumstances, but it’s actually the way that his sexual orientation is shown that I like the most. Bisexuality has so many misconceptions surrounding it, so to see a story where he the lead likes both males and females, isn’t put in the ‘it’s a phase, you’ll have to choose’ scenario, and doesn’t play up certain stereotypes is excellent. I also liked that he felt the need to look after Donnie, as there are plenty of people who don’t feel settled without someone to look after, and to see this put across in an authentic manner was a nice touch.
Donnie is an interesting love interest for Ben too, and discovering his backstory as the tale progresses is a Helluva ride. Meanwhile, the other characters that we encounter are, while not as fleshed out as our leading pair, more than capable of fitting their roles and holding your attention. In particular, Ben’s former partner Helen deserves a mention, as she forms a realistic depiction of someone who is conflicted due to the mix of their relationship falling apart and the fact that she’s a reasonable person.
It should be noted here that the book does contain a handful of erotic scenes. While not an erotica reader myself, I can appreciate the way these were set up. Rather than simply providing titillation, the scenes genuinely move the plot forward and help show the development of Ben and Donnie’s relationship. As such, they never feel shoehorned in, and actually add to the tale.
The Bad: So, like I said, the content warning is there for good reason. If you’re squeamish about medical stuff, or simply can’t stand erotic scenes at all, then they’re worth considering. At the same time, if you prefer your sweet romance to remain sweet and avoid too many hardships, then you may struggle with the harshness that A World Apart depicts.
Moving on though, I only really have one criticism. Now, I am not really a contemporary romance reader. I tend to stick with speculative fiction for the most part because it just fits with my tastes better. The reason I mention that is because what I’m about to say won’t actually bother most regular readers of the genre. You see, I have a preference for slowly built romance. There’s nothing overtly wrong with love-at-first-sight or whirlwind romance, it’s just that neither are my personal preference. As such, the speed at which Ben and Donnie’s relationship moves was outside my normal tastes. It’s understandable, as the circumstances that they’re both facing would make them need to reach out, and that may make people move quicker. I would also say though that while it doesn’t fit with my normal romance tastes, the book is well written enough for this not to be a major negative. If anything, I liked the moments of sweetness as a contrast to the cold, hard reality of the leads lives.
Final View: A World Apart is a quick, easy read that provides an interesting slant on the M/M romance genre. The story weaves together a healthy mix of harsh moments, sweetness and some decent representation for a number of different types of people. Well worth a read, though you may get more out of it if you’re a more seasoned M/M romance fan.
Final Score: 4 / 5