How do you begin to live when an unbearable tragedy only allows you to exist?
You become me.
Hello friends! I come to you today with a brand new review as part of a blog tour for Cassandra Night’s Tangled IN YOU, the first novel in her IN YOU series. Tangled IN YOU centres on the main protagonist and her struggles in overcoming extreme loss and trauma and finding love and happiness.
I must admit that anyone who takes the plunge to independently publish have such incredibly bravery and courage to do what they love and stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. I really have the greatest respect for authors like Night who took a chance and fought for what she wanted.
Before I begin, I’ll leave the synopsis of this book below but it can also be accessed via Goodreads:
A construct of perfect lines and shields built to protect the heart, allowing only short gasps of air and small rays of sunlight in, to endure the pain.
My life was left in ruins when I lost everyone I loved. I forfeited everything I once was to keep their memories protected from everyone else. To survive, I pushed it down, kept it locked away, desperate to forget the truth.
Then he showed up, willing and daring me to feel again, to raise me from the ashes of despair. It was a mistake to let myself believe I was ready, because now, through the fissures in my armor, she is trying to return and take it all back by force.
Eventually, all secrets are bound to unravel revealing terrible things about the past. Can I, survive the gale of sorrow, after I let them in again?
Thoughts on the Narrative…
In terms of the writing, Night is certainly a creative individual who writes in this almost lyrical prose. Her writing is aimed at ensuring the reader is having an emotional response to the characters and their story; simply, it is inherently powerful. Tangled IN YOU is Night’s debut novel, so there are aspects to her writing that will develop over time as she publishes more and more. She does have the capacity to be a powerhouse romance author because the fundamentals are there, but Night is still yet young in her writing career.
The narrative itself centres upon the emotional and mental health of the character Cassandra Knight (strange as to how the main character and the author share the same name, for the exception of the spelling of the last name), who tragically lost her two sons in a car accident and subsequently lost her husband in divorce as a result of her trauma. She spent considerable time in a psychiatric hospital where she learned to, quite unhealthily, compartmentalise her feelings to the point that she created a sort of dual personality. This was the result of the psychiatric hospital utilising the most terrible means of treatment, i.e. strapping Cassandra on a bed and tranquilising her.
‘Sandra’ is who she was before, and ‘Cassandra’ is who she is now. I must point out that in the beginning, I found it quite confusing in how Night manoeuvred her description of this compartmentalisation. She depicted it in terms where I was of the impression that the character was showing signs of Disassociate Identity Disorder, which I thought would be an incredible character in terms of showing her journey and having a representation of a somewhat severe mental health disorder. Instead, though, I realised that it was a mechanism that I myself have used and still use, and that is naming Anxiety. In my case, I call my anxiety Anna, my best friend calls hers Arthur – it’s a way of humanising our disorder, in the sense, that if we consider our anxiety as this character, we can try and find effective ways to kick their behinds. ‘Sandra’ was Cassandra’s anxiety, fear and trauma and that is how she could tell when ‘Sandra’ was pushing through – that is, when the anxiety was becoming overwhelming.
Night’s portrayal of Cassandra’s mental illness was an interesting depiction. I say this because I felt the description of the panic attacks within my core.
“I drop to the floor and put my back to the wall, knowing perfectly well that my rapid breathing and tingling in my legs are signs of a panic attack…I anchor my thoughts to more positive things trying to escape. Frantic, I shut my fears in the box and hold up my knees in a steely grip, waiting. The muscles lock, and the hot sensation spreads all over my body, unraveling me” – Cassandra Knight
As a woman with Generalised Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks, I have a very intimate relationship with the randomness of panic attacks. It was intriguing to read each harrowing detail. However, because I’ve had to, there were instances when Cassandra would have a trigged anxiety attack, not a panic attack, but still considered it to be a panic attack. There was really no inclination for Cassandra to seek actual real help and get a clinical diagnosis and get treatment for her mental health. As someone who believes its fundamental to seek help, even though it took me a while because I had no idea what I had was anxiety and that it would get so bad, Cassandra knows its an anxiety disorder but is antagonistic to help. This antagonism I think was meant to act as the ‘problem’ that needed to be solved for the overall plot, because that is mainly what it’s about. Cassandra having these really severe anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes extremely violent, constantly fainting, etc. but ignoring it, ignoring her sisters, ignoring Logan, not talking about it and being angry when Logan makes the decision for her to see a psychologist.
This was also another issue I had with the plot, and one that the character Cassandra tried to utilise as another point of contention with Logan. Now, Logan and Cassandra are not actually considered to be together for a significant portion of the novel, even though they end up having twins together, and continually have sex with each other, they are not together together. I had hoped when she had her children, Cassandra would realise that she needed to be healthy in order for her children to be healthy, but that was not the case. Instead, it was up to the male hero to swoop in and ‘save’ her. Even then, Logan included himself into the appointment with the psychologist and took over. There was no capacity for Cassandra to try and heal by herself, and to be honest, she didn’t really want to for the entire novel, up until the last chapter.
Characters and Criticisms…
Though the character Cassandra is written in terms of being as realistic as possible, with flaws and struggles; the overall narrative focuses on the romance and pushes the ‘healthy recovery’ to the side. I won’t include anything too spoilery, but there are a few lines of dialogue throughout the novel which places the implication that the romantic male lead, Logan, will ‘fix’ her pain.
“Allow me to rewrite every single wound, and give you wings to fly, Angel,” – Logan to Cassandra.
I think it is pretty self-explanatory as to why I find this problematic. Also, the way in which Logan and Cassandra meet is not the most appealing way? Logan is extremely forceful in pushing himself onto Cassandra, but it’s written off as ‘sexy’ and to the fact that he is a CEO, an arrogant man who always gets his way and women never say no to. It’s like a predator versus prey situation. It was not the best first meeting.
I just found the intimate scenes between Logan and Cassandra to be uncomfortable in the sense that there’s a lot of swooning, like losing feeling in legs because of the masculinity of Logan pulling Cassandra to him when she was trying to leave and said no the first time. That’s not sexy in a man.
“Someone grabs me by the elbow and yanks, and I collide with a broad chest” – Cassandra
He also, at one stage when they’ve known each other for a night, told her that she needs to trust him. How? They’ve just met????? But she justifies that he’s right.
“After last night, I thought you would trust me more” – Logan
Cassandra could have been incredibly complex women but the writing was focused on being too lyrical and descriptive that it became slightly annoying when it was constantly told to the reader how difficult everyday life is for Cassandra.
“Did she notice the darkness residing in my empty eyes?” – Cassandra
“I must hide all the vulnerable parts from the people, to let myself feel a sliver of happniess, smile, or even breathe like others” – Cassandra
“I have enough tragedies, struggles, and traumas to fill the ocean with sorrow” – Cassandra
“My fragile mind’s not coping well” – Cassandra
The quotes above are examples of the internal dialogue of Cassandra’s character, and it became too much quite quickly.
Other novels who have characters dealing with similar mental health illnesses do not constantly overexplain but it is, instead, interwoven within the narrative and within the characters themselves. For instance, authors such as Karen Rose, Nora Roberts, Nalini Singh and Christine Feehan write fierce female characters dealing with trauma/anxiety/depression, but the reader does not get bored or disengaged because the writing moves away from telling the reader. Here, the writing was attempting to emphasise how Cassandra’s character was defined by her losing her sons and not coping. Cassandra showcases such strength in getting up every morning and kicking ass, but her personality was dry and two-dimensional. I wanted to emotionally connect with her, I was reminded constantly throughout the internal dialogue of her character why I should connect and relate to her, but I couldn’t because it felt so superficial.
Moving onto Logan, he wasn’t a character that I engaged with. We are given his perspective throughout the novel, but the writing of his perspective was written similarly to Cassandra’s point of view; to the point, that the language of Logan in how he described things reminded me of what women really want to think men sound like.
“I want to see your desire swirling in those icy blues” – Logan
Above is just one example, and at times, it became quite cringe-worthy.
However, the three events that shook me to the core because of how out of this world they were, I will describe below. These three events are the part of the main reason why I rate this book a 2 out of 5 stars. However, I find that these three examples are aspects of Night’s writing that will get better with time.
- After Cassandra has another intense panic attack and faints, she wakes up in a random place. Logan does this often (again, because it’s supposed to be ‘sexy’) and he took Cassandra to an indoor pool. What followed was the beginning of a cute little scene between the two of them and then transformed to Logan trying to drown Cassandra as a sort of ‘trust’ exercise. How is this not some sort of abuse??
“He quickly pulls me down, under water that surrounds my eyes and fills up my throat, chocking me from the inside. I claw at him to let me up for air, but his hands remain locked around my waist. Shocked in disbelief, I start to push and fight him with a burning need for air. Then he lets me up” – Cassandra
- The breastfeeding scene. Now, I agree with Cassandra in that breastfeeding is not a sexual act and is not meant to be. Mothers have the right to feed their baby whenever and wherever it is needed! However, it goes from free the boob to Cassandra complaining that her breasts are too full of milk that her child can’t latch on, to Cassandra’s sister saying that someone needs to suck out some milk to LOGAN sucking on Cassandra’s breast and her moaning in front of her sister, her child and Logan’s brother who gets turned on. It was a poorly written scene.
- The striptease scene. I am still confused as to what and how this happened. Logan’s brother Leif is a creep and I think his character is supposed to be the funny and cheeky one. So, a fight occurs between Logan and Leif and in the aftermath, Cassandra goes to comfort Leif who then lifts her from the ground, throws her to the bed and climbs on top of her as a sort of ‘game’ to make Logan angry? jealous? laugh?. Leif is consistently saying that Logan needs to ‘share’ her and it’s extremely creepy, and this is why this scene is particularly strange. As a result of this, Logan and Leif start punching on each other and Cassandra’s sisters and brother-in-law begin to take bets on who will win, and Cassandra then puts money towards the two brothers to get naked – because that’s appropriate. The brothers hear and chase her, with Logan grabbing her and giving her a demand that he will then give her $50 per piece of clothing she strips off. So she does in front of Logan, her sisters and Logan’s brother Leif who moans out loud when Cassandra bends over. If it was some sort of polyamorous relationship thing going on, I would understand the need for this, but it’s not, and it’s not even kinky, it’s just extremely uncomfortable and so utterly confusing.
For readers who enjoy authors such as Diana Palmer and E.L. James, you will enjoy the intensity of passion between the two main protagonists and the attempt at the deep emotionality of the character of Cassandra Knight. I, unfortunately, did not connect with it as I found a few things pertaining to the relationship between the two characters as problematic and I rate it a 2 out of 5 stars, but other readers who enjoy such a romance will thoroughly enjoy Tangled IN YOU by Cassandra Night.
That’s it for today, friends! Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,
I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the author, Cassandra Night, for giving me the opportunity and honour in reading her debut novel in exchange for an honest review.