“I’m flawed but not damaged.
Melissa turned her life around six years ago, moving to a new country and putting the shame of her past behind her. Forgetting the worst moment of her life is harder than she thought, especially when Andrew Malcolm re-enters her life, surfacing from the ashes of her past.
The structure that Melissa built for herself is threatened by Andrew, who isn’t willing to let her walk away. He would hunt her to the end of the world to have the girl who wanted to be the best he never had.
But what happens when the walls start crumbling around Melissa and she is forced to face the past she wanted so hard to forget? Will Andrew be able to pick her back up and show her that he cares, or will Melissa lose the chance to have true love?”
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Flawed is the debut novel of indie author Lym Cruz. Cruz, like many new authors, definitely has a lot of room to improve, but she clearly has creativity on her side. Flawed is like a rough cut diamond. Though some may only see a rock, with a little polishing this book would be a brilliant diamond. Flawed is about two people with their share of insecurities and damaged pasts, who briefly meet in the most unlikely of circumstances, only to meet again and create something beautiful. Like both of the main characters it contains, Flawed is flawed, but not damaged.
In the first few paragraphs I found the imagery very stiff and boring, which made it feel like the author was just trying to meet a word count. I was immediately nervous that I was in for a bland story that I had already committed to reading when I agreed to be an ARC reader. I always feel awful writing a bad review, but even worse when it’s for an author I am working with directly. That said, I refuse to let that keep me from writing anything less than my honest opinion. I forced myself to prepare to write a bad review after just a few paragraphs, but by the end of chapter one my curiosity was peaked. In chapter 2 my curiosity only grew. There was no way I was going to stop reading now and all thoughts about preparing for boredom and negative reviews were forgotten. I was hooked.
Then another blind sided change of heart came right away as I began chapter 3. I was now a weird combination of irritated and disappointed in Andrew, one of the main characters, and completely confused about my first impression of Lym Cruz, the author.
By the beginning of chapter 4 I had accepted that the chapters would be very short and offer very little information. Lym was feeding us little snippets to bait our curiosity, but the story was jumping from one perspective to another, from scene to scene and I still had no idea what the story line would be. I’d also already counted a few minor grammatical errors and misused vocabulary. I often wondered if the author was attempting to use more diverse vocabulary than was typical in her conversations, which not only led to A LOT of misused words, but made the story feel a little stiff and formal. The misuse of punctuation was also very strong in this book, but I decided to look past it at the heart of the story instead.
By the time I was 20% in my curiosity was still peaked, but I was frustrated. Andrew and Melissa were being a bit dramatic about their situation, immature and jumping into “feelings” so fast. Intuition told me that knowing more about their past would explain the feelings, but almost a quarter into the book is pushing my limits on an acceptable time frame to explain how these feelings are developing so quickly. More focus on character development and attention to detail would go a long way in creating a more natural connection with the characters and would likely ease a lot of those concerns.
Andrew ends up disappointing even more when he starts behaving in a manner that is completely unacceptable. Mel’s friends somewhat address this by saying that the interpretation of behaviors is very much reliant on how you feel about the person, but I only agree with that to a point. No matter how attracted or in love you are, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed and once they are, the behaviors are creepy, controlling or abusive. If one of my friends was basically being stalked for weeks, I would not push her toward her stalker, I would drag her away. My brain was throwing red flags out faster than the refs at that Packers vs. Seahawks game in Seattle a few years ago. Alarms were blaring, lights were flashing and my inner dialogue was screaming “RUN!”
Mel apparently has a much larger and more lenient threshold for taking crap than I do, so she let attraction and a sense of connection persuade her that his stalking was acceptable and give him another chance. She went from wanting to leave to dropping her pants so fast it was absurd. Don’t get me wrong, the scene was sexy, but also infuriating. Then, to add to the ever growing sense that Andrew is a controlling jerk, he displays his jealousy and marks his territory the very next morning, which puts Mel in a position to deal with another jealous jerk. Apparently, Mel’s painful past, which we have yet to learn about, did not give her the tools necessary to measure her self worth or stand up for herself. Ezra easily guilts her into going out with him, which only adds more jealousy fuel to the fire, and now means she’s being manipulated by two men.
Eventually, we finally get answers about Mel and Andrew’s previous meeting and the trauma of Mel’s past, but it comes out of left field with very little trust building. I’m annoyed that Mel will open up to a man she barely knows, who displays terrifying signs of abusive and controlling behavior from the start and clearly does not respect boundaries, but won’t open up to her friends who have obviously earned her trust. Perhaps it’s Andrew’s existing glimpse into her previous life that made her feel safe enough to open up or maybe it was the mysterious emotional connection, but it was shocking none the less.
As their relationship progresses they seem to be entering healthier territory, but every time they hit the most minor speed bump they handle it horribly. They are terrible at communication and incredibly immature. Andrew was raised in a hostile family where he closed himself off and learned to keep his thoughts to himself and he treats his relationship with Mel the same way. Fear keeps him from fully letting her in and communicating, but when Mel is frustrated she doesn’t articulate the real problem and expects immediate answers. When she doesn’t get the response she wants she either runs away or over reacts. Her reactions are bold, outlandish and completely uncalled for in most circumstances. I find myself wishing she would be as defensive of bad behavior as she is of feeling like he’s not saying what she wants to hear. She jumps to conclusions and is a huge hypocrite. She even goes as far as thinking he’s after her money, even after her overly crazy reaction to misunderstanding his questions and assuming he believed she was after HIS money. What?!
I do have to congratulate Lym Cruz for giving more exposure to such an important topic. The trauma of Mel’s past highlights a huge problem happening around the world that people just don’t pay enough attention to. So many people have been affected by similar experiences and I think writing stories like this and putting this problem in the forefront of our minds is extremely important. She also addresses race, mixed race relationships and the pressure family can put on us, which, though more prominently addressed in today’s society, continue to be an issue. I like that she isn’t afraid to broach topics many avoid, especially in a genre predominantly focused on internal relationship issues and not external real world problems.
The second half of the book finally picks up speed and by the last quarter we are in full on action mode. What started as a rocky romance quickly grew into a mystery and thriller. It was terrifying and exciting and somewhat reminded me of Taken or a James Bond story. I was ready to suit up in an all black outfit and join forces! The beauty is that Lym brought all of the characters together in a time of need, which is typical, but also implied not all of their intentions were pure. Sometimes the people who should be supporting you only see you as a resource in their own agendas. The book came to a peaceful conclusion, but left enough mystery that the additional standalone books in the series have plenty of opportunities to link tot he greater story line.
This book had great bones, it just needed some refining. I have full faith that Lym Cruz will continue the interconnected series with more creative, exciting and unique story lines and hope that she focuses more on development and attention to detail to really give the following novels more depth. Lym Cruz is one to keep an eye on!
*Please note that this book does contain some sexual abuse triggers, racism and graphic content.
- AUTHOR: Lym Cruz
- SERIES: Perfectly Imperfect
- PUBLISHER: Lym Cruz Novels
- PUBLICATION DATE: September 27, 2019
- ISBN: 1086555244
- ASIN: B07VWKGJND
Other books in this series
TO BE ANNOUNCED