Books, eBook, Fiction, Romance

Off the Grid by Kay Richard is a debut novel that tells more than it shows

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars that I’m rounding up to a 3. The author tells 90% of the time and shows 10% of the time and that isn’t a pleasant ratio for me. The worldbuilding is also lackluster.

I read the ebook version of Off the Grid, the debut novel of author Kay Richard. Richard has been part of the Twilight fanfiction community for a long time, and regularly publishes her fanfic on her website.

The story begins in medias res, and is mostly told in the first person perspective of our hero, Andrew, who is a burned-out famous actor desperately in need of a sabbatical. His assistant books him an entire bed and breakfast in the small town where she spent childhood summers with her grandparents for a month so he can take a break from his overworking nature. The last several chapters of the book are told from different POV characters, also in the first person, and the epilogue brings us back to Andrew’s POV.

It is pretty easy to tell that this is a debut novel. The writing, especially the dialogue, is pretty clunky most of the time. I think that if this book was not written in the first person perspective, it might have read a bit better. Many of the sentences in her prose are short, which makes everything feel a bit clipped off. When Andrew introduces a new character to the audience outside of dialogue, he uses first and last names, which is something that felt odd to me. At one point he mentions someone named “Ryan” in dialogue, but then a few pages later in prose “Ryan” is given a last name and a profession.

I was also not a huge fan of how characters were described in the book. Their descriptions were sometimes not descriptive enough and at other times felt overly described. A character that the audience is made aware of in the first chapter is met in the second, and is described as “a short, plumpish woman with a warm smile and kind eyes.” I at first read that description and assumed it may be the heroine of the book, who was also briefly mentioned in the first chapter, but it was actually her grandmother.

The main setting, a small town in Michigan, sounded like a really cute and quaint place, but I still don’t have a good picture of what the town is like. Again, we are told things about the town instead of being shown them. Even the farm wasn’t really shown to us, other than a few key locations. Otherwise, we were just told about the various parts of the farm.

Some spoilery talk below:

At the beginning of an early chapter, our hero tells us there’s been a four week time jump and describes some of the things he did in that time. This showcases how much the author tells instead of shows, and I think that’s what I dislike the most about this book. Unfortunately, this is a theme across the entire novel. We don’t see the two main characters fall in love over those four weeks of working together in the farm. Instead, we get more clunky dialog about how the heroine is his “everything.” If the author would have spent some time showing us their early courtship, then she could have also given us better descriptions of the farm and surrounding areas.

We also hear about their eventual engagement through a pretty unlikeable POV character, and their wedding is briefly mentioned during Andrew’s POV in the epilogue. I felt like I missed out on the major events in their relationship, and would have loved to them get engaged and their beautiful wedding day.

Another thing that I didn’t quite like about this book was that multiple side characters also had relationships happen pretty quickly off-screen that resulted in marriages and/or kids by the end of the story. This is the fist book in a planned series by the author, so those relationships may be explored in future novels. However, to me all of those relationships felt like they were too neatly wrapped up in a bow, if that makes any sense.

I received an advanced copy of this ebook for review via NetGalley, but all opinions contained herein are my own.

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