Published: 15 December 2020
Series: Something Real #1
Warnings: Mental illness, sexual assault, violence, language
Jealousy. Betrayal. Family secrets.
Appearances are everything in my family. We are the Strongs. Fame is our birthright. Music flows through our veins in a continuous harmony. Flaws are unacceptable.
When my parents got a good look at the freak they’d created, I was hidden away, my existence wiped out.
Until they discovered my secret.
Now I had something they wanted.
Taking it from me didn’t faze them. They believed they were entitled.
I was just a boy, unable to fight back.
So I did the only thing I could.
That was seven years ago.
Now they are back, and they want something from me again.
They send the sexy and oh-so-tempting Mia Bennett to persuade me, and I’m helpless to resist her.
Mia seems innocent in my family feud, but is she really?
I can’t be sure.
All I know is she makes me feel alive again. She gives me the courage to just be me. She’s the new inspiration behind my music, my heart’s own melody.
But something dark and twisted lurks close to home, and leaves me questioning who is friend and who is foe.
Now I am forced to make a decision that could well break me.
How far am I willing to go for the woman I love?
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Freak really held my attention. I read it in two sittings, with the break being there only because I had to go to bed and snooze, or I would have been up all night! It drew me in and grabbed me. There are some serious highs and lows to be had, with me even getting close to teary eyed at one point.
The book is written from the alternating point of view of Mia and Zeke. We first meet Zeke as a child, struggling with a lack of love and acceptance from his family. He is a troubled child, who grows up to be an isolated adult who struggles to trust others. When we first meet Mia, she is a recent college graduate working in a job she hates, for a boss she loathes, hoping to find a better opportunity. But when circumstance introduces Mia and Zeke, things suddenly look up for the both of them.
Zeke is a young man with quite a convoluted past, which we are introduced to in stages as the story progresses. Leslie Georgeson does a great job of weaving his history throughout the book. His family background is quite dark and unhappy, and we see it through his eyes as he shares different memories with us. He is quite sombre to start with and struggles with confusion and insecurities throughout the book, but as soon as he meets Mia things start to brighten for him.
Mia is a strong woman. Right from the start, we see that she has a backbone and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. (This comes in handy for her as she is dealing with all of the things that are put in the path of her and Zeke.) But she is also very likeable. The interaction with her and Zeke flows really well and I enjoyed the two of them together.
Quite a lot of time is given over in Freak to Zeke’s family. And what an unlikeable bunch they are! It becomes apparent really early on just why Zeke struggles with dark memories from his childhood, and why he wants nothing to do with his family. The descriptions and interactions with his family are great – I was totally on Zeke’s side against them. The mental image I have of his father and brother are so clear that I felt myself reacting when they were ‘around’, as they are both obnoxious (that is probably a bit too polite). And his mother is horrid! But luckily for Zeke he did have one positive adult in his life, and that relationship is a nice soft spot amongst the nastiness.
From the number of warnings I’ve put on this review it probably sounds like it will be loaded down with bad language and violence, but it’s really not. I always like to add the ‘language’ warning if there is cursing, as it simply isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (I’m not a fan of excessive use), and there is some ‘language’ to be had in this book. But it didn’t bother me at all. And the violence warning is necessary, as there is definitely a violent element to Freak. But Leslie Georgeson actually handled it quite gently, for what it was.
There was one section towards the end where it built up to the point that I felt the need to put the book down for a few minutes before proceeding. The emotion of the lead up to it had me preparing myself for what I thought was going to be a pretty hard to read section, so I chose to walk away for a minute first (ok, I didn’t really walk anywhere – I had a cuddle session with my dog right where I was on the couch – but you know what I mean). However, when I returned to reading the book, I found that it wasn’t heavy at all. (I actually felt that it was a little too gentle, for what should have been a severely traumatic event). So, while all of these elements are part of the book, I didn’t find that it became too heavy or grisly at any point.
I gave this book 4 thumbs up, as I really enjoyed it. I probably would have gone the whole way with 5 thumbs up, except that towards the end Freak reached a crescendo point where everything seemed to happen at all once and it got really rushed. I had no trouble understanding and keeping up with it all, but it felt like a little of the depth of the story got swept away with the speed of it. However, if some parts of that section of the book had gone the other way and detailed it all too much, I’d probably be saying that it had been too heavy and dark and I wished that it hadn’t been so specific! So, for the most part, it was probably better to do it this way.
Thank you to the author, Leslie Georgeson, along with Xpresso Book Tours, for my copy of the book in return for an honest review.
Leslie Georgeson writes romance and suspense, sometimes with a dash of sci-fi or paranormal tossed in to make things more interesting. She is the author of the popular military romantic suspense series, THE DREGS, which was nominated for the 2018 TopShelf Indie Book Awards. Her other titles include the UNLIKELY HEROES series, the UNDERNEATH series, the standalone romantic mystery, NO SON OF MINE, and the newly released romantic suspense duet, THE PACT. Book one, The Mocking Man, and book two, The Honest Liar, are both now available on Amazon.
Leslie lives with her husband and daughter on a quiet country acreage in Idaho.