by Mia Asher
Ooh Arsen…. Let’s face it, a lot of romance novels are just fluff. I read them and a few days later I’ve pretty much forgotten about them. Arsen is different. I read the e-book about 3 years ago and I could still recall the story in detail now (which says a lot in my case, I even forget the endings of almost all movies I’ve seen). Now, Arsen is not necessarily a read-and-re-read kind of book, but when I recently saw the audiobook in the Romance Package I thought it’s time to go there again.
Arsen is a love triangle story and you could say it’s a sequel to all the other Happily Ever After romance novels where the sensitive heroine finds her Mr. Perfect. In fact, Katherine’s and Ben’s beginnings are told in the “past”-chapters. In the present, they are married, just not so happily anymore. Life happened and killed their passion.
Trigger-Warning: miscarriages and infidelity
After several miscarriages, Kathy is in a dark, dark place and it seriously endangers her marriage. That’s when she meets Arsen, young, cocky, beautiful, who pursues her without much care for her relationship status and makes her feel other things than just pain again.
Now, for most of the book, Kathy is not a very likable heroine. She is grieving so deeply that she sabotages herself and her marriage, and with that, deeply hurts Ben. However, she comes around in the end, goes to therapy and gets and deserves her Happily Ever After. Mackenzie Cartwright puts all that pain into her narration, all the grieve, sadness and emptiness. Mia Asher is a fantastic author and takes the reader along into the complex world of Kathy’s (and Ben’s and Arsen’s) feelings. None of the three main characters is two-dimensional. They all have good sides and bad sides, strengths and weaknesses and we learn about their multi-layered motivations, thoughts and feelings. The author really does each of them justice (at least in their portrayal, not necessarily in the outcome) and she doesn’t let the reader get away with just picking a team, painting one man as bad, the other as good. She also shows how a solid relationship between two good people who love each other can fail when issues accumulate and aren’t talked about.
While the story is mostly from Kathy’s point of view, we also have a few chapters from Ben’s and Arsen’s PoV, both narrated by Roger Wayne who captures the atmosphere of the book very well and pulls you into the sorrow those two men have to go through. And if you aren’t at least sniffling after listening to the epilogue… well… you’ve got a damn thick skin, you >>
I so wholeheartedly recommend this book when you feel like cry porn but I’m fully aware that this book is absolutely not for everyone and also not for everyone anytime. When you feel like dark and truly painful, really well written, and heart-wrenchingly narrated, then Arsen is the absolutely best book!
4.5 out of 5 incredibly painful stars
The sex is dirty, raw and full of anguish. Just detracting a half star because of the times when Arsen deliberately humiliates Kathy.
Audiobook > Book
Since I was so moved by the e-book back when I read it, this is really a tie. I’ll just go with the audiobook since this is an audiobook blog 😉
Pick it up here:
This audiobook is in the Audible Romance package.