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Mr. Real: Code of Shadows: Book 1 (Volume 1) Paperback – November 7, 2012
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About the Author
Carolyn Crane is the author of the Disillusionists trilogy and assorted novellas. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two cats, and works a day job as a freelance writer. During rare moments when she’s not at her computer, she can be found reading in bed, running, or helping animals.
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Sir Kendall is a character from a commercial which only aired in Australia. He's a super spy who drinks Denali (which is ridiculously funny), is super charming and suave and has no idea he's not real when he's brought to life. In fact, he thinks Alix is an operative working against him at first.
Paul Reinhardt or `Puma' Reinhardt is a professional martial arts fighter who fights on TV and did a Denali ad a while ago because he needed the money to train. Even though he found the acting and ad ridiculous since it was only being aired overseas and the pay was good, he did it. After losing a big fight and being close to losing his career he finds himself on a road trip and mysteriously drawn to a small town in Minnesota. It takes him right to the woman he kicked out of his martial arts class four years ago, something he's regretted ever since. The chemistry between Alix and Paul is something that's stayed with both of them for all these years.
When Alix, Sir Kendall and Paul all end up in the same room together, this is where the real fun begins. Paul hates the Sir Kendall figure with a passion because of what he represents and is so confused by what's going on (he thinks a psycho got plastic surgery to look like him) but he's also determined to protect Alix, even from herself (and she needs it). That alone immediately endeared him to me. He went above and beyond what he had to do to protect Alix. While he's busy trying to keep her safe, Sir Kendall thinks Paul is an evil clone created by his mortal enemy, which had me cracking up. There was a lot of growth for Alix and Paul in this book and I loved that Alix really just wanted to take responsibilities for what was turning into a dangerous `creation'. Overall, this was a wildly entertaining book. All the characters are flawed and I found myself laughing out loud over and over. The book isn't a comedy though, there are some darker moments, but it's balanced out by the amusing internal dialogue of Alix and Sir Kendall. There were so many things to like about it so if you're looking for a fast-paced paranormal romantic suspense with a very unique twist, Mr. Real is it! I will definitely be reading more in this world.
Here's what I can tell you: MR. REAL cracked me up. I was lying in bed late into the night and laughing out loud every page or two. For example: The fantasy man, Sir Kendall, is a James Bond type ripped from a commercial for a sickly sweet peach liqueur. When he shows up, he's half cartoonish and half dead serious but either way he's all spy. He's suave, scheming, ruthless...and he actually likes Denali. The Denali turns into a running gag & it got so I laughed every time I read the word.
Humor is a tetchy thing, but Carolyn Crane's works for me. It's a little nutty or quirky, a little offbeat.
MR. REAL is wonderfully absurd - the balance Sir Kendall strikes between authentic and bizarre is priceless - but the book isn't a comedy. It's hard to define a genre-mash up like this one. It's paranormal, romantic, a zany spy adventure. It's a Terry Pratchett-like spin on reality vs. simulacra. The characters do grow and change; I thought Paul's evolution was particularly wonderful.
On the downside, I thought the latter third of the novel dragged a bit, up until the final showdown. Then when the final showdown finally did roll around, I wanted more from it - an expanded scenario rather than what felt like a hurried wrap-up.
That's the setup for this book without any more spoilers than are in the description. I left this review because I got so invested in the two lead characters that I started slowing my reading down, to draw the pleasure out over a longer span. I really cared about Alix and Paul. Both of them have gigantic hearts. And they're so perfect for each other. Paul appreciates all the wonderful things about Alix and doesn't see her shortcomings (mostly). Alix thinks Paul is too good for her and Paul thinks she's too good for him. Paul is fierce and damaged and Alix is exactly what he needs to lighten up his life. Both characters have perfect arcs, they become the best people they can be. I noticed a couple of reviewers who had a strong negative reaction to Alix, thinking her TSTL. I didn't have that reaction at all. The strength of those reviewers' reactions tells me it must be a hot button for them, a particular sore point. Actually, I didn't find Alix at all stupid. She just has poor impulse control, which everyone has until they don't anymore. That's something everyone learns to overcome. This book is the story of Alix learning to curb her impulses and think before she leaps. Paul is the best male romantic lead I've ever encountered. If I had that computer program, I'd wish the Alix and Paul really existed in the world - they're just such wonderful people.
I'll reread this book every couple of years, it's just so great. The only other books I've read by this author was 'Mind Games', which I though was well-written but it didn't capture my heart the way this book did.
Most recent customer reviews
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