All I Ever Wanted Was To Stay Down For You - review
I'd not read a book by N.L. Hudson before but seeing that she's a new author with six titles to her name in her first year I jumped at the chance. All I Ever Wanted Was To Stay Down For You was the title that caught my interest.
Micah and Vic are back, and this time they've brought plenty of drama. Someone from Vic's past pops up and causes major turmoil between the two. Since Micah and Vic have always had that sort of love and hate relationship, it becomes a question as to whether the hate outshines the love. Real love is what keeps you together, right? Well, that may be the case, but when you have road blocks at every turn sometimes it's easier to just walk away. Will the two that everyone has grown to adore be able to keep it together, or will the problems be too much for them to endure?
I liked the read of the blurb. I'm bit of a diehard romantic who believes couples can really hold it down for each other. I started All I Ever Wanted Was To Stay Down For You the day before my eleventh wedding anniversary. That kind of had me hoping for something that validated my belief in the strength of true love. This story had far more drama than my idea of holding it down for the one you love. But I'll get to that in a while.
All I Ever Wanted Was To Stay Down For You is longer than your average urban fiction book. So, when I sat down with it I should have expected there was going to be room for a full on ride with it's two main characters, Vic and Micah. You may have previously seen them in one of N.L. Hudson's other books All I Ever Wanted Is A Love Like Yours. They've been together for a few years and have a daughter who's nearly a year old. They are comfortably well off, with Vic running two successful nightclubs and Micah working from home. Their home is pretty much a mini mansion. This and their wealth becomes the envy of a number of other characters that enter the story.
A lot happened during the course of the book but I felt too much time was spent detailing the endless situations of bickering that went on between Vic and Micah. I'm not sure all of that was needed. Perhaps an experienced editor could have tightened the whole thing up a bit. That would have kept the pace and direction on point. That said, the characters were genuine in an annoying real life sort of way. Sadly, many couples fight that frequently. I'm just not sure such a realistic depiction of the frequency of relationship strife was interesting enough in parts. A few carefully chosen key moments of relationship strife would have sufficiently established the state of the relationship. The plot could have still unfolded around that.
All the arguing and fighting between Vic and Micah seemed to just be the natural state for their relationship, rather than feeling an otherwise good relationship had pivoted to bad because of the plot that was unfolding. And, because it felt like their relationship was always on edge and a moment away from collapse, I never really worried about it not working out. In fact, there were a couple of times I found Vic and Micah so annoying I didn't want them to stay together.
In one scene, Vic goes to apologise to Micah because he's been a fool to her (I'm being nice about him, he was a dick). Micah is justifiably short with him and he gets all up in her face asking why she's got that attitude. Truth be told, Vic needed to check his attitude. He should have gone to Micah humble if he really wanted his woman back. And then Micah just encourages his foolish behaviour by accepting his wack apologies, immediately followed by him ordering her to let him lay down the D. In the end I just sat back and felt they deserved each other. Apart from maybe when the cheating ex-boyfriend looked like a viable alternative to Vic. Man, I was rooting for that dude just because I hated Vic so much.
I wasn't sure if how I felt about the characters was intended by N.L. Hudson, so that's something I got into when I interviewed her.
As much as the characters elicited emotion from me, they were rather frustrating. I generally like to see decisive and ingenious characters that use their strengths in cunning ways to overcome whatever difficulties the plot throws in their path. Neither of them seemed to have any redeeming attributes in that area.
Perhaps Micah did, in respect of her trying to be a bit of a role model for Vic's younger sister, Kayden. She comes to live with them and, at first, it's a challenge for their relationship to adjust to the house guest. But I enjoyed how Micah was trying to be a positive figure in her life. As for Vic, all he seemed to be able to do for Kayden was get angry with her and threaten her. Vic was really quite detestable in that respect. It was hard to see anything positive about him, not even in an anti-hero type of way.
The other character impacting their relationship was Vic's mother, Tamala. She re-entered Vic's life early on in the book, after essentially abandoning him when he was still a kid. That woman was a thorn in their sides right off the bat and was intent on pushing Micah out of the picture. I liked the fact that she had an agenda. This brought some forward momentum to the plot, although you never really learned enough about her plotting until much later on in the book. I liked the complication Tamala's character brought to the story because I think most people can relate to the whole mother-in-law situation - either from experience of it or from fear of it!
However, Vic and Micah weren't married. This was another source of tension, with Vic finally proposing to Micah after another round of fighting between them had concluded. This set Micah on a trajectory of never being sure if Vic proposed because he had done the dirty on her and was feeling guilty about it. It seemed there was to be no happiness for Micah and Vic, even in what should have been the happiest of times.
If I were Micah, I'd have been less worried about whether Vic was cheating on me and more about how he acted like an arrogant, self absorbed, entitled, male chauvinist all the time. These flaws to his character were obviously part of the reason why he couldn't see what his mother was up to. Still, it was hard to believe he could be so naive, where she was concerned, after his earlier ruminations that reuniting with his mother just didn't feel right. He clearly had some kind of blind spot for his mother despite the drama she was bringing to his relationship with Micah, which was there long before she ever was and was where his loyalty should have been.
There's a scene when Vic's mother is in a bust up with the stripper she's sent to wreck her son's relationship. Tamala isn't happy that Melena isn't getting the job done. And she says something along the lines of "I can't exactly sleep with my own son, can I." The irony was, Vic had such a week spot when it came to his mother that, if she'd tried to sleep with him, I could have almost believed he'd have gone for his mother over Micah. It shouldn't have been necessary for his mother's underhanded motives to be exposed for him to work out where his loyalties lay. He should have been down for Micah all along, no questions asked. For that reason alone Micah should have kicked Vic to the curb for good.
The book had a number of errors that should have been spotted and corrected in the proofing stage. These did distract from the flow of the story somewhat. And, I'd also have preferred it if there weren't line breaks between every paragraph. Since this is commonly used to denote a perspective change, it was hard to easily spot where the perspective was changing from one character to another. Clear indication of that would have been useful as the perspective would often switch back and forth between characters multiple times within a scene.
I'd definitely say the book came into it's own in the last fifty pages or so. There were several plot points that were hanging and they were drawn together in a satisfying conclusion. I wish the details of what had been going on in the background had been made known to me as the reader earlier on. Instead, I had to go by the gut feelings of characters that things just didn't seem right, that things felt off. This allowed the direction to wander more than was ideal. Had I known a bit more about the backstabbing that was unfolding out of view, then this may have provided enough meat on the bones to see me comfortably through the endless quarrelling between Vic and Micah.
All I Ever Wanted Was To Stay Down For You was three stars for me. Overall, I enjoyed it. There was always enough to keep me reading, although I wanted a little more at times. The characters got under my skin, and I was pleased with how things ended.