Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Kane's Hell by Elizabeth Finn

Kane and Helene were the best of friends until a nightmare devastated them… Hopes were destroyed, dreams shattered, a budding teenage love torn to pieces. Eleven years later their lives are nothing like they once were. Time has changed them … and not for the better.

Helene is smart, driven, and accomplished—her education and achievements a smoke screen hiding the frigid and fragile child wounded long ago.

Kane is equally obsessed with his coping mechanisms—fighting … drinking … screwing … compulsively destroying himself one vice at a time.

When their paths collide again, their past becomes an obstacle no coping mechanism in the world can protect them from. But confronting the past so they can heal in the present is no easy task. Can Kane reach Helene and recapture what used to burn so warmly between them, or will his own self destructive demons pull her into his hell?

A woman determined to look forward. A man always looking back. A love desperate to be restored.

“You’re the brightest, warmest star in my universe. You’ll never be less than everything to me.”

WARNING: This book contains darker subject matter and violent content that may be difficult for some readers.

4.5 Fantastic Stars!

Review by Jen Hagen 

This is my first book by Elizabeth Finn and HOLY WOW did she impress me.  This was fantastic.  The writing was excellent with lots of depth to each character and every scene, and the emotions emanating from the characters (especially Kane) were out of the ballpark.  My only complaint was too much time was spent on philosophy, although I get where it was relevant to the story, it just went a little too deep for somebody like me who would rather read for enjoyment than to dissect.  I debated between 4 and 4.5 stars, wanting to give it 4 because of the philosophy overload, but the last 15% brought it back up to 4.5.  The story worked well with the way that it was told in alternate POV along with alternate past/present.  I usually am not a fan of waiting to find out what happens, but the buildup was intense and I enjoyed feeling the knot in my gut while I was fervently waiting for the ball to drop.  

Kane and Helene were once neighbors on the back roads as kids, and they kept their friendship going through high school.  She was the nerd, he was the guy with an attitude --both of them were harboring secret crushes for each other.  Kane was getting ready to ask Helene to their senior homecoming dance when something happened that would forever change their young lives and cause Kane to run off in the middle of the night, not reappearing again for 11 years.  What was so bad that Kane ran from in the dark of night? 

Kane leaned over to my ear, “Look at me,” he whispered.
I turned to look at him, and my tears fell as I saw the hopelessness in his expression.

Kane ran and Helene was left behind.  So what has Kane been doing while he’s been gone? He’s been doing everything he can to keep the emotions at bay and maintain the fa├žade of the strong, unfazed man that he wants everybody to think he is, but deep down he is anything but strong.   Ways to keep his mind from running back to the past include fighting, lots of booze, and an over abundance of women.    He doesn’t care who he is hurting when it comes to getting himself a woman in his bed…he takes nobody else’s pain into his consideration.  As long as his pain is obliterated for a short amount of time, that’s all he thinks about.

Helene on the other hand, keeps men at bay and her last boyfriend described her as “frigid.”  She is on the path to receiving her doctorate in philosophy and is an assistant professor at the local university.  Helene is strong.  She has tried to move on from the past and thinks she has done fine with it (other than distancing herself physically from the male population) until Kane reappears.  She wants an answer from him that is 11 years past due.  

“Just tell me why?” she pled quietly. “Why?”
“I can’t,” I whispered, and then I lost the fight against my own emotion as a tear ran down my cheek.

Why did Kane suddenly reappear?  He has himself on a self-made agenda.  He is back to get his dad’s house ready to go on the market.  At the mere mention of his dad, I became furious.  He was not a father to Kane at all.  He treated Kane like a punching bag and the night that Kane needed him to be a father for just once in his life, he literally kicked Kane when he was down.  His mother left when Kane wasn’t a year old…what is it with mom’s thinking it’s okay to leave an abusive man with a baby?? What mother in their right mind could do that??

Once Kane gets the house is selling order, his plan will be complete.  But his plans did not include falling in love with Helene.  This is throwing a monkey wrench into his perfectly thought-out itinerary.  How about if Helene offers to go with him?  Would that work?

“If you’re leaving and you love me, then why can’t I come with you?”
He took a deep breath, “Because you can’t go where I’m going.  You don’t belong there.”

Is the place he’s going to hell or has he already been living in it?   At this point it is at 85% and I couldn’t stop the tears from coming.  I will make this clear…there is a happy ending…I just needed to point that out for fear that people wouldn’t read this if it wasn’t.  The turmoil that Kane fights on a daily basis and how he is trying to find absolution broke me down into a blubbering mess.  It has been a while since I have used the soft cotton neckline of my pajama shirt, but I needed it for the last 15%.  

“I deserve to be free from this.” Tears filled my eyes, finally overcoming me.  “And baby…I have suffered, I am suffering.”  My voice broke over the words, and my tears fell.  

I adored Kane, and I adored him even more when he cried – and he seemed to let those tears come freely when words couldn’t speak the message.  He never held back when it came to emotional wreckage.  Kane is also a very dirty talker and likes to put those words to action.  He likes his kink in the bedroom and is very comfortable with that aspect of his life.  He said he could go without it, but I really wonder if he could.  It seemed like he needed that outlet of control to replace what was taken from him. 

As I’m going back to find the final quote to leave you with, I find myself crying again at the pain that was elicited from his words.  He found his absolution but yet he also has to let go of the happiness he never thought he would have.

“Just a little while,” he whispered against my ear.
I closed my eyes as I nodded.  “Just a little while.  And you’ll come back…”
“I’ll come back to you.”
“And you’ll marry me…”
“In my heart I already have.”

But now for the good news…the epilogue is fantastic!!!  It includes my absolute most favorite thing in an epilogue.  My tears of sadness turned to tears of joy!  I think I fell in love with Kane a little bit more.  My broken beautiful boy turns into an adoring amorous adult.  

Never in a million years did I imagine my life would amount to so much…

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