Title: Love It Like You Stole It
Author: Ki Brightly
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 334 Pages
At a Glance: A stimulating, action packed, and emotionally charged story with plenty of twists and turns to keep it exciting. While in some areas I didn’t quite connect, the total experience was one wild ride.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Michael Levine is backed into a corner. He started tearing apart cars for the local mob with the best of intentions—to save up money to pay for his mechanic certifications and impress his crush and mentor, Ben. But Michael soon finds himself in way over his head. He knows stealing is wrong, but it’s only cars, and the insurance will pay to replace them, right? What started out as a small job to make some extra bucks soon turns into a nightmare he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to find his way out of.
Ben Jelen isn’t sure where his life is going. On the surface everything looks fine. He has a successful business, he’s raising his niece into a strong person, and he has a boyfriend most guys only dream of—sexy and rich. But nothing feels right. The only things that really keep Ben’s attention anymore are his classic Road Runner, his niece, and Michael—his Meeko. Ben took him under his wing forever ago, and their love of old cars and fast driving has forged a strong bond. Ben’s days don’t feel right if he doesn’t get to see Meeko at least once. But something seems drastically wrong in Meeko’s life, and Ben hopes he can put the pieces together to help him before it’s too late.
Review: This story is a wild ride. Crime, cars and a dash of romance to keep everything moving at a fast pace. The cars, and feelings towards the cars for both Meeko and Ben, are palpable, and the love they have for the shop is clear and also an integral part to the entire story.
Meeko’s love for cars and Ben prove to be the catalyst that sets the dominos tumbling into themselves. His desire to become something more and get his mechanic certificate, while also showing Ben he is useful and not a kid, clouds his judgement and he jumps in with both feet at an opportunity that clearly would put him in a bad situation. And that is why Meeko’s character really stood out for me. Some people could say his actions and reactions were unrealistic. But me? I don’t quite believe that. I have known many people who fail to think about consequence, people who are looking for friends, acceptance and are so desperate to prove themselves that they don’t often think about the path they have taken and what the more-than-likely result will be. Meeko is such an individual. He does not contemplate possible endings or the penalties for his actions. He doesn’t consider those who may get caught up in the repercussions for his decisions, he just doesn’t get it—not because he is a bad guy but because he is so focused on wanting to be of use, getting friends, and to have Ben see him. Meeko is clearly naïve on top of being impulsive, and is holding on to a singular goal without thought of the consequences. His inability to quite understand what others are capable of, including the truth that there are those who will manipulate and take advantage of someone they see is looking for somewhere to belong. He doesn’t realize he is their prey, and he falls right into their web.
Ben is quirky and odd in his own way. He has little ticks, nervous laughing, slapping of his thighs, and talking to his deceased brother when things just seem too much. I don’t know if he has an actual diagnosis that the author used when writing him, and for a moment I found myself wondering if he was OCD in some ways, or maybe has some form of movement disorder. But then I realized, maybe that’s the point. I don’t know if that was actually the intent, but while trying to diagnose Ben with what little understanding I have of different disorders, I realized that people aren’t cookie cutter and not everyone knows if there really is something that has a diagnosis, or it’s habit or is part of their intrinsic make-up. Did it really matter in the end? He was a law-abiding, successful businessman who really was just trying to do right by everyone around him. In the end, that’s what really matters.
I’ll be straight-up honest and admit it’s probably a ‘me thing’ on this next part, so take it with a grain of salt as I am clearly in the minority here: I didn’t quite connect with the romantic portion of the story. While I found both characters to be remarkably well written and fully fleshed out, I didn’t feel for them as a couple. This is one of those weird things that I can’t fully explain, but I’ll try. Individually I felt for and empathized with them both, but not quite as much together. The level of angst and failure by both of them to really open up to each other just didn’t work for me. Despite caring for each other, they both held back constantly, up until the book was almost over. Meeko’s rash decision-making repeatedly put Ben in difficult positions, and his failure to communicate with Ben on what was really happening to him and his feelings continued to cause more angst in an already tension-filled book. Then there was Ben’s scattered feelings for Meeko and on relationships in general; the information he kept from Meeko, especially about Grant, made it even worse. For years he never let Meeko know anything personal about him, but he was somehow upset to find Meeko hadn’t trusted him with his personal life and struggles during that time. He ignored Meeko at the shop and barely talked to him outside of it, yet Meeko was supposed to go to him when things got bad? When it came to Meeko, Ben came off as a hypocrite while Meeko seemed to be in a constant state of guilt. Ben wasn’t ever, IMO, held accountable for doing exactly what Meeko had done, so I just wasn’t feeling them together all that much.
Now, on to the criminal crazy happening all over these pages…wow. There is a convoluted plot that took the guys on quite a few twists and turns, and there are definitely some unexpected surprises along the way. I found it interesting how Meeko’s desperate attempt to get money by becoming one of the lowest men in a criminal enterprise ended up snowballing into being smack-dab in the middle of something so complex. It kept me glued to the page as more and more aspects and the deviousness of the different players revealed themselves while the danger got closer and closer. I kept wondering how it would all play out; I was definitely not disappointed in the ending. In fact, I was actually impressed with the cleansing aspect it seemed to create.
While I can’t say I was Meeko and Ben’s biggest fan, Love It Like You Stole It is a stimulating, action packed, and emotionally charged story with plenty of twists and turns to keep it exciting. While in some areas I didn’t quite connect, the total experience was one wild ride.
You can buy Love It Like You Stole It here:
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