Book review: Kate Evangelista’s “Savor”

Kate Evangelista has certainly gone a long way from her days as a debut author. After “Taste”, she came out with even more books, such as the paranormal romances “Reaping Me Softly,” “Unreap My Heart,” “Til Death,” and new adult novel “Romancing the Bookworm”. She’s even set to make her debut on local bookstore shelves this year, as Macmillan publishes “Til Death”.

Evangelista’s latest book with Crescent Moon Press, the same publisher that put out “Taste”, is also available on Amazon, and I was given a review copy of the book. How much has Evangelista’s work changed since she first debuted two years ago?

Savor 1600 x 2400

“Savor” tells the story of ambitious school paper photographer Dakota Collins as she finds herself involved in the world of superstar rock and roll band Vicious. After catching the eye of Vicious enigmatic frontman, Luka Visraya, Dakota manages to land a deal that allows her exclusive access to the inner workings of Vicious. Aside from that, she also has permission to make the band the subjects of her exhibit for her school’s Spring Showcase, which she needs to pass to be able to graduate.

However, Dakota soon discovers that things aren’t that simple once she stars living with the band in the sprawling Lunar Manor. Not only does Dakota bear witness to conflicts within the band, she also has to fend off the advances of the dangerously sexy Luka. And complicating matters even more are the nightmares Dakota has of being chased through a forest and getting her body horribly mutilated.

With everything that’s going on, will Dakota end her month-long stay in Luna Manor intact? Or will she come out of the experience with both her heart and her mind broken?

Readers who “Taste” may feel more than a little disoriented when I first started reading “Savor”. Aside from Dakota, they have probably encountered all of the characters before in “Taste” — from Luka and Demitri to Phoenix and Calixta. It’s even mentioned that they come from the exclusive Barinkoff Academy, which is where the action began in “Taste”. one might expect something paranormal or zhamvy-related to occur, but the book moves on pretty much like a new adult book set in contemporary times.

Thankfully, it’s easy for readers to overcome that initial disorientation, mainly through the efforts of the character Dakota Collins. Dakota’s physical appearance is unique among new adult heroines, in that she has physical deformities. It is really refreshing to read about a heroine who isn’t conventionally beautiful, and with a patch on one eye and scars on her stomach, Dakota may be as far from conventional as one can get.

The mystery of how she got those injuries also makes for a compelling read. It may not be  what Evangelista intended, but the scenes where Dakota gets inklings of how she got her scars could work as foreshadowing of a possible revelation of her being a victim of past sexual assault.

Unfortunately, this sexual assault theory may not go well with the parts of the book that were written more for the new adult crowd. It’s hard get into the groove, so to speak, especially when Dakota essentially sexually assaulted Luka in his bed, and vice versa. Readers may feel like they’re reading two very different books, and that they only like one of them. The fact that neither of these “two” books end without any of the reader’s questions answered will probably spark extreme reactions from both ends of the spectrum as well — one will either clamor for the next book in the series, or be pissed that “Savor” feels so incomplete.

But whatever problems one may have with that particular aspect of “Savor”, it doesn’t  apply to Evangelista’s writing. It’s so much fun to see how vastly her prose has changed since “Taste”. At times, “Taste” could read a little purple, and that is happily not the case with “Savor”, where Evangelista displays much more control and care when it comes to her words.

While the story that happens in “Savor” — and the way that story is concluded — may not be something that all readers will agree on, there’s no question that it’s a far stronger book than Evangelista’s debut. Hopefully, things will only get better with every new book that she offers up.

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