Here & Now #1
Kim Bailey is a debut author with a strong voice. In Complex Kisses she tells a story about real people, real situations we all can find ourselves in.
As a reader it is always a bit of a risk to read a book by an author you've never read before. What if I don't like it? Or worse, what if I hate it? Ultimately I tried to go into this with no expectations at all.
This story is mostly character driven. We get a dual POV, switching between Jamie and Eric's voice. Jamie is a very independent, kind and strong woman. When she was 17 she ran away from home, pregnant and at serious odds with her father. They have never resolved their problems and spoken another word ever since. Now she is spending the last days of his life with him - but nothing seems to have changed. He is still the old cranky bastard he was when she left.
Eric's brother is facing the battle of his life which led Eric to reconsider his life. To hell with plans, a job he doesn't love and a fiancé he feels indifferent towards. Now helping his parents deal with their son's illness is his ultimate goal. And living life on a day to day basis. When he finds his charming smartypants of a brother talking to a beautiful girl he butts in. And finds himself utterly enchanted.
I loved Eric and Jamie finding a little bit of reprieve and joy outside of the hospital. They had so much to give to one another. Jamie's life hasn't been easy but she soldiers on. Eric always had a loving home so it is easy for him to give Jamie the support she needs through one of the hardest periods of her life.
I did have a little bit of a problem with the unnecessarily long monologues. Often they were a repetition of how awesome and beautiful the other one was and how fascinated they were. At some point I just felt it was to gloss over a real movement in the story. I also could not get behind some of the decisions the heroine made. She beat herself up way too much over things she couldn't change. On the other hand she was inactive when it came to her dad.
While this might not have been a 5 stars read for me, it was still a strong first signal from Kim Bailey. It's a study of character and if you love deep views into personalities, this is definitely a fantastic story to read. You receive a lot of emotions and deep thought with this book and this author is definitely one to look out for in the future. I am looking forward to reading the next installment of the series.