Thou Shalt Not by J. J. Rossum
on December 9, 2013
Genres: Abuse, Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Drama, Erotica, New Adult, Romance, Sociology
Amazon • Goodreads
Luke Harper was finally starting to settle into his life - a life that had previously been full of more heartbreak and pain than most people ever experienced. He had a job he loved, and was blissfully content in his on-again, off-again relationship with the striking, and highly sexual, Holly. But, life throws Luke another curveball with the arrival of the alluring April, a woman stuck in a tumultuous, violent marriage to a famous athlete. Luke soon finds himself torn between what is safe, familiar, and right, and what is dangerous, unknown, and forbidden.
Thou Shalt Not
Immediately you think forbidden, wrong, sin, going to hell.
I liked this book. We’re inside Luke Harper’s head and it’s not always a pretty place to be. He’s still mourning the death of his wife. It’s tragic really and there were several times when I felt my heartstrings pulled. J.J. Rossum has a way words in that he’s able to pull those emotions out of the reader. You follow along believing all the things Luke says to you. Everything feels right because that’s what Luke or J.J. wants you to feel. And I bought it. Hook, line, and sinker.
If Luke says it’s raining, then I believed it was raining. So when Luke said he was in a FWB (friends with benefits) relationship with Holly and Holly was happy with that arrangement I believed him. Holly’s character doesn’t really do anything or say anything to suggest otherwise either. When Luke started flirting with April the new substitute at the Christian high school, where he works, and she reciprocated in kind, well I believed him and her. Or rather I believed J.J. Rossum. I never one time second guessed what I was being told. There was nothing to indicate I shouldn’t.
Boy was I wrong. And that in a nutshell is why I liked this book. That’s why I think J.J. Rossum is on to something here with this writing thing. It’s an excellent debut. Lines are crossed, there are twists and turns that are somewhat unexpected. Outcomes I never saw coming. Even some situations that resolved themselves in an unexpected way. All in all I enjoyed the story. It was well thought out. It was funny at times, sad, flirty, sexy, even snarky. It’s always fun to read stories from the male pov. Thou Shalt Not doesn’t disappoint in that department.
I found it interesting that Luke works for a Christian school and mentions several times how he can’t drink in public or curse in school or even outside of school he’s always wary of “being caught”. His job seems important. Until April. LOL he throws all that out the window in favor of having an affair. Bad enough he’s doing it with a colleague which was a no no. Then again it’s called Thou Shalt Not for a reason. I liked this though. Because it’s a lot like life. We pick and choose the things we’ll allow ourselves to do. Which lines we’ll cross and which we won’t. It doesn’t always make sense and I guess it doesn’t have to.
As usual though…..I have my issues.
Yea yea I know I’m hard on these authors. I know I have certain expectations and even if they’re ridiculous, they are mine and mine alone. I don’t write these reviews to upset the author or the reader. I write them because this is how I feel about the book and because I want to see the author push themselves to be better. I want to see growth in subsequent books. I’m fussy.
In the beginning of the book when Luke talks about Carrie there’s reverance. But then…I don’t know…it’s almost like there needed to be a reason for his first marriage to not be happy. So then suddenly Carrie wasn’t that great after all. That didn’t sit well with me. I mean there was already a love triangle of sorts happening and one of the women is married. I just didn’t think there was a need to disparage the first marriage. It should and could have stayed a beautiful thing. Luke was confused about his feelings and that’s fine. He should be confused. He’s allowing himself to want to feel for the first time in a long time and it’s hard for him. All of that was great. I just wish Carrie could have stayed out of it. It made me feel like Luke was using that as a way “in” with April. Whether for his own benefit or to make April see him differently. Like poor Luke. No don’t do that!
There was one blaring moment I didn’t like. There’s another teacher at the school who is supposedly in a troubled marriage, Stephanie. At one point Luke says that maybe Stephanie and April can “bond” over their asshole husbands. Now I don’t know if that was intentional by the author but it was definitely a WTH moment for me. I mean we already know that April is being abused by her husband. So to suggest that Stephanie could compare notes on their abuse..well I just found that to be in bad taste I guess. Again, maybe it was intentional to make us see Luke a little differently but I didn’t like it and didn’t think it was needed.
I know there’s been talk about another book. I have a few thoughts on that. One, if this is it I’m fine with that. Lots of movies just end and we sit there wondering WTH. I get it though and I even appreciate it. I suspect there me be another book though. I felt like the Stephanie/Landry situation was a setup. Again I could be wrong but I think there’s more going on there and that will be revealed later.
Now this last little note is going to get me some eye rolls, maybe a laugh of two. You may scratch your head. You may just think I’m crazy. But I have this feeling and I’m probably wrong I dunno. I just have this suspicion that possibly J.J. Rossum is a woman. There I said it. Proceed with laughter. And if he is indeed a guy…huh…well I apologize. There’s just something about the writing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, they way sentences were structured, words used, phrases. I just keep getting this feeling that something was amiss. Well not amiss. I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s still a good book. It’s still worth buying and reading and sharing with your friends.
*A copy of this book was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*