Damaged Goods by Ainslie Paton

Damaged Goods by Ainslie PatonDamaged Goods by Ainslie Paton
Series: Sidelined #2
Published by Supervised by Cats on July 29th 2016
Pages: 327
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This is the story of a man who can’t get it up and a woman who’s never gotten it on

Sidelined by a broken back, CEO, Owen Lange is confronted by two things: his sex life will never be the same and he’s dependent on his pain meds. He never expected to have his dependence called out as addiction by a junior help desk employee.

Cara Douglas knows all about pain and loss. She’d had her sights set on the US Olympic Gymnastics Team before an accident landed her at a help desk screen. The last thing she expected to be helping with was an intervention for her boss.

Owen doesn’t thank Cara for her trouble. He calls her a snitch. But even through his paranoia he knows she’s right. After all, addiction runs in his family. He also knows he has to make it up to her, but the only thing Cara wants is the one thing Owen can’t give her.

Question: What do an injured athlete finally ready for no-strings sex and a nice guy who can’t get it up have in common?

Two characters, two victims of traumatic injuries a decade apart, both looking for validation in their own way, except that their worlds don’t collide. But when they do, it’s rocky, difficult and filled with obstacle after obstacle that I could never imagine would populate a romance novel.

The premise of the book was enough to hook me in. Owen and Cara, the lead characters, with their own personal failures and pain, were the stars of it.

Ainslie Paton does quite a remarkable job in the exploration of what passion and intimacy really meant and to a lesser extent, questions where we’d be or how we’d look at ourselves if sex wasn’t an equation anymore in relationships. That Cara accepted Owen as he was – nerve-damaged and limp – made her my personal heroine. .

While Owen grovelled, I earned for a return to the time (or pages) where they loved each other as damaged souls – yes, physically – because that was so much more real than the happy, able-to-get-it-up-again Owen. Would he have done all of this with the same confidence had it not happened for him? His return to normal erectile function seemed too good to be true and I’m not ashamed to say I regretted it. To be honest, I would have rather it didn’t, not at least until things were straightened out emotionally between them because I’ll never really know if he’ll actually accept Cara’s acceptance of them if his ability to have penetrative sex disappeared once again. I wished this had been addressed, even as his changed status back to “fully-functional” man seemed to make the grovelling and the abrupt HEA easier.

The difficulty of the subject aside, I thought the process of reading wasn’t made easier by Paton’s writing style…which I’ll have to admit, ultimately felled me. Too filled with hyperboles and phrases that felt very put upon – along with some measure of artifice -, I thought the writing style itself, ironically, downed my enjoyment of the book. And to say this without trying to sound like a bloody snob here is an impossible task. Yet I felt off-balance a lot for most of it because of the long internal monologues and the occasions where a character’s every excruciating thought, physical action and overreaction noted down in a manner that seemed sometimes overblown. Everything, despite the American setting, had a distinctly un-American sheen to it and the manic writing (which, instead of being poetically succinct) tended to emphasise that. It smoothed out midway through enough for me to enjoy myself as Owen and Cara went through the easy going bits of their relationship at mid-point. That reprieve didn’t last long however; the screw-up in Owen/Cara’s relationship was inevitable and so went the writing acrobatics again that proved as unpredictable as every book that Paton turns out.

I’m hesitant to say I disliked this book – because I didn’t – yet it’s just as hard to say that I loved it. The long and short of it was, the unusual plot caught me; the way it was delivered, not too much. But give it a shot anyhow, because there’s really no accounting for individual taste, as the other stellar reviews have already proven.