I honestly do not know how I feel about Done by Cassandre Dayne. I could be mean and say that it is awful (and I am kind of tempted to do so) but it is not. So instead I will call it an ambitious failure. I cannot blame the length of the story because I have read many short stories/novellas that have created a well-drawn world with captivating characters in a short amount of page space. The main issue that I have is that the author spends so much time creating endless reams of over the top drama that it begins to lose focus of the main plot.
Ms. Dayne starts off with an excellent premise: Simon’s newly configured family vanishes overnight. The distraught father goes to any lengths to find his family and comes upon Michael, a detective with a shady past, to assist him with finding his family. As he starts to uncover his partners last steps he begins to realize that he did not know the man that he was about to marry. As his world slowly starts to crumble around him he has to begin to face his past in order to understand his present. If he does not piece together the clues in time he will lose everything. This plot is what got me to read the story, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. From reading the synopsis I knew that it was going to be an erotic romance with elements of a psychological thriller but the only thing that worked was the romance- and even that had a huge flaw. Michael and Simon do have chemistry and I was happy with their relationship and scorching hot sex scenes, but the attempt at adding depth to the characters was only half way complete. Every time you found out something new about the characters another secret is revealed and makes you rethink everything that you originally thought. The effect is like walking in a huge field riddled with land mines. It is fun at first but the author relies on these surprises just a little too much, it becomes distracting. And the ending is just too frustrating to describe.
I think if the story focused more on balancing the intensity inherently found in this type of plot, and making some of the dialogue less melodramatic/campy, I could have enjoyed it a lot more than I did. I can tell that the author really liked what they wrote, and she does have a ton of potential, but this novella left me too frustrated to enthusiastically recommend it.
Simon Preston loved his life. Between his job as a highly paid architect and his lover, Chad Murphy, things couldn’t be better. And since adopting the precocious little girl who was the love of their lives, he was ready to take the next step - marriage. After a grueling day at work, Simon decided to surprise his melded family with a homemade dinner and a selection of the finest Disney movies available. He also had another surprise in mind. Gay marriages were legalized in the state of New York and even though their relationship wasn’t perfect, Simon knew it was time to make it official. The feast prepared, he waited. And waited.
When the call came, Simon's life was immediately shattered. In disbelief, he fell into a state of despair. How could Chad leave him and take the baby? Hell bent on getting his life back, Simon fought his inner demons, an abusive past and false truths and walked a twisted path until he was a changed man. And suddenly, he was faced with the fact no one believed Chad was really in his life. Was he truly going mad?
Michael Dayton was a private investigator and former decorated cop. And he was the only man who believed Simon’s story. As both men slipped down a trail of lies and deceit, Michael attempted to drag Simon back from the brink of revenge and the ravages of insanity but he had demons of his own. Could the love and honesty given freely be their salvation or would Simon lose what was left of his humanity?