It should come as no surprise that I like continuations and alternate universes of well-known stories. I blame Disney retellings.
One Shade of Gray by Monica Corwin features Dorian Gray from the Oscar Wilde novel. You’ve got to love a romance novel with a hero that’s self-aware and willing to take pot shots at themselves as well as a lot of the romance novel tropes.
When Dorian sees Izzy, his new theater producer, he’s struck by her resemblance to his long-dead love. Convinced he’s been given a second chance, he pursues Izzy with a single-minded devotion. Except, Izzy isn’t having any of it. She’s not happy with her boss’s attentions, even though she’s incredibly attracted to him, and so Dorian needs to change his strategy if he’s going to get his happily ever after. That’s assuming something else doesn’t go wrong. Like whispering the wrong woman’s name in the middle of sex.
So first off I totally loved the characters. Seriously. I loved the characters. In her very first scene, she calls out her boss on following her. Which he totally is. And she tells him it’s not okay. That it’s creepy as fuck. And if he doesn’t stop he’s not going to like the result. You know what happens?
OMG!!! A dude who actually listens when a woman tells him stalking behavior isn’t okay.
It doesn’t address the boss/employee dynamic. Which is always inherently unequal, but to Dorian’s credit he never once threatens her job or hinders her ability to do her work. It’s about as much as you can ask for with this trope.
I adored Dorian. He was both an alpha male and yet not at the same time. His inner thoughts revealed his own insecurities and broken psyche. And Dorian is broken. He’s really 150 years old and that has consequences.
Then I let the mask drop and sat unmoving on the couch. The doctors called it depression. The way I felt hollow all the time, mostly feeling absolutely nothing, until something could spark me and I would feel human again for a short while. It never took long for it to return.
That is one of the most accurate descriptions of depression. And it’s refreshing to see it in our hero while he’s still being a hero. Living forever has its own problems and the fact that both science and psychology are portrayed positively is pretty darn awesome.
On top of the characters, I also adored the self-aware dialogue and inner monologues.
Take for instance the following:
After she read that God’s forsaken book about the sadist who shared my surname, she couldn’t look at me without snickering for a week.
Or maybe this:
The words hung there in the room, heavy and pregnant, waiting for someone to offer them a chair.
I straight up laughed at the last one.
The story was fun and a refreshing take on what it’s like to live forever and also the “reincarnated love one” seen in so many paranormal-inspired romances.
Ultimately I give it Five Stars.
*** I received an ARC from the Author.
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