Bedlam by Autumn Sand
Extended Description: Anaya’s life of comfort and style would be the envy of many women. She lives in a grand New York City penthouse, has all the designer clothes and shoes she can stand, eats at great restaurants and loves a Jack and Coke (or three) with her best friend. Things get complicated when she meets club mogul, Tony, her first big solo client, and the chemistry between them can’t be denied. It prompts her to think about a future that doesn’t involve her cheating absentee boyfriend, Ignacio, whose irrational jealousy of other men and mob ties threaten to trap her indefinitely. But Ignacio isn’t Anaya’s only problem. The more she learns about Tony, and his own ties to the mob, the more complicated things get. As hidden information is revealed, the story takes a turn away from the love triangle you think it will be to a suspenseful caper with a lot more at stake.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Primary Tropes: Love Triangle, Woman in Peril, Tortured Hero, Alpha Hero
Secondary Tropes: Crime/Justice, Abuse Survival, Diverse Author
What Makes it Stand Out: It’s rare nowadays to read a book that has truly surprising plot twists, but this book had a lot I didn’t see coming. Many books do so much foreshadowing that readers who are paying attention figure out what will happen long before it happens, but this book struck a good balance between keeping the reader in the loop and slamming ther with things she couldn’t have known.
What You’ll Love About It: Anaya was also a really fun heroine—apart from some blind spots when it comes to relationships in her life, and despite being in a rut with her shit-for-a-boyfriend, Ignacio, she was really sharp and it was fun to witness her experiencing the world around her. Anaya’s inner voice had a natural, dry sarcasm that was effective yet unique—the kind of voice a lot of authors strive for but that doesn’t turn out quite as well when others attempt it. These descriptions and world-building were a testament to the strength of the Sands’ writing. It was the kind of writing that captured you right from the beginning and made you want to keep reading, regardless of what the book wound up to be about.
Truisms, Complexities, and Other Themes: I loved that this book explored themes of relationship complacency. There was beauty in this subtle detail that is rarely seen in other current romance genre books. Most of the time, the men and situations that heroines run from are one-dimensionally bad. I loved that, in Bedlam, Anaya really was comfortable in her life. She lived with a man who was emotionally and physically absent, which is the situation of many women—and many women choose not to leave relationships in which the spark has gone out. I loved that Anaya had a rich life of her own and had made peace with her situation, and that it took a true catalyst to cause her to seriously consider leaving. This aspect of the book felt extremely honest to me. I tend to think that most people are neither holding out for the perfect relationship nor are they trapped in terrible ones they can’t escape—I think most women (and men) settle into mediocre relationships, because comfort and familiarity has its own merit, and it felt good to read a book in which somebody finally said so.
The Standout Side Character: The not-quite-elderly doorman of Anaya’s building appears to be simply a sweet man who she chats with, in passing, in her daily life. I always love these kinds of characters, and I love that Sands gave us more than a surface glimpse into this man’s life. At one point in the book, we find out he’s not just a kindly older man. We learn of a history that speaks of adventure and intrigue that goes far beyond his current job and station. I loved that Anaya’s character and the overall story reminded me how much older people have to offer, and how true it is that people are so much more than we believe them to be.
Our Prediction: I'm pretty sure this was the author's debut novel, and I think she's got a bright future. She's done amazingly in terms of gaining recognition since her beginning, and I wouldn't be surprised if she made it big!