Dark Secrets, Quiet Shame | A Book Review on What We Never Say by Paulette Stout
Book: What We Never Say
Author: Paulette Stout
Hi friends. Hello. I'm back with another hot take on the latest books I've read. I found this one on NetGalley. The release date is November 1st, 2022. I saw it while I was browsing and the absolutely GORGEOUS cover caught my attention. Ya'll know I am easily swayed by pretty things. The synopsis on this book made me incredibly excited to dive in. Anyone that knows me, knows I am adamant about the fact that men get sexually abused too. Men have unwanted sexual experiences too and they deserve the same healing and acceptance we offer to women.
Sadly, male sexual violence and sexual abuse is wildly unreported. It is heartbreaking seeing how few men feel comfortable enough to come forward. If there is any man reading this that has suffered from sexual abuse or unwanted sexual experiences and does not feel safe enough to talk about it with their loved ones, just know that you are loved here. You are supported here. Your story matters and you will always be safe here in The Booky Babe space.
Anyway, let me climb down from my soapbox and talk about this book. This book with the gorgeous cover. If there was a cover contest somewhere, I would definitely submit this because...I mean...you see it. It's simple but it's stunning. We love a beautiful cover. However, we need to talk about the story inside the book. The disappointing story. *hangs head*
SOMETIMES SECRETS ARE TOO BIG TO IGNORE.
After a lifetime of lacking confidence at work and in life, Rebecca has finally found her voice. Her blog for women is gaining traction, even getting noticed by the world’s top fashion magazine. When they request an article, Rebecca is beyond thrilled. So why is her boyfriend Kyle so concerned?
Kyle has a blank spot in his past he won’t share—not even with Rebecca. But his secret is blown when a powerful woman from Kyle’s fashion past, becomes desperate to get his attention. It’s attention he never wanted and has been trying to forget for eleven years.
As Kyle takes steps to heal, Rebecca’s article becomes a global sensation. Events force Kyle’s past and present to converge, putting Rebecca’s future at serious risk.
Kyle and Rebecca must now act to reclaim their lives before it’s too late.
Okay so boom. I'ma just be honest, mkay? Okay great. I was thoroughly disappointed by this book. I wanted so badly to love it. SOOOO BADLY. It tackled a subject that not many dare to tackle, but babyyyy this book was FLAT. Everything was flat. The characters were flat. The story was flat. The entire thing was just....well, FLAT.
It hurts me to say it, because I really did want to love this book but there were some issues. Honestly, I am mostly irritated that this is marketed as the first book. Literally says Book One on the cover, but this is NOT the first book. I figured out, about 40% of the way through that this is actually the second book. The first book is "Love Only Better." I will talk more about why that irritates me in a minute. Let's talk about what I did like about the book first, before we jump into the not so pleasant things.
The Cover. Okay, I know this doesn't really count towards the story, but I just want to reiterate how much I love this cover. I am contemplating buying a copy of this book just so I can have it on my shelf. I see a bunch of "show me your prettiest book cover" Tik Toks in my future. The actual first book of this series, Love, Only Better has an equally gorgeous cover. Whoever does your cover art deserves a raise, Ms. Stout.
The Subject Matter. I was incredibly excited to find a story that shed light on men who have suffered from sexual abuse, sexual assault, and other unwanted sexual experiences. Like I mentioned earlier, men are less likely to come forward due to shame and stigma. I wish this weren't the case. I was so happy this book addressed that topic.
Characters. The characters were flat in this book. Paper flat. Like so flat that if they turned to the side, they would probably all disappear. All of them lacked common sense. Many of the details about them were left out, seemingly because they were included in the first book and we were already expected to know. I think I was about 30% into the story before I even realized that Rebecca was Hispanic. It was mentioned in passing. As if it wasn't completely new information. Also, the personality of the characters seemed....ick.
For example, Kyle is rightfully upset that Rebecca is going to work for the same company where he suffered the literal sexual abuse that he confided in her about in the beginning of the story. Now you would think, if your significant other comes to you and says that a certain place/person/thing is triggering for them because of what they dealt with there, as their significant other you would cut all ties with that place/person/thing right? RIGHT? Well in this book's case you would be dead wrong. Rebecca basically, in so many words, said: "I mean that sucks for you but this is really good for my career so...maybe get over yourself?" which would be fine if it was just a jilted ex or a stressful work environment, but we are talking LITERAL SEXUAL ABUSE and she just brushes it off with a giggle? Whet??
Relationship would be done. Right then and there. Done. Finito. Good bye. Adios. And everything else that means GET TF AWAY FROM ME.
They all made dumb decisions, honestly truly. I was upset that Kyle still had ole girl's number and picture saved in his phone after what she put him through. And she was able to just call him whenever she felt like it. Hi? Hello? Block the number. Tf?
There is another book?! Like I've mentioned, there is another book. The REAL first book. What We Never Say is marketed as a standalone book but it's clearly not because there are key details that we are just expected to know. Details we would only know if we'd have read the other book first. We are sort of dropped into the middle of the story. The first page literally feels like you went to the movie theater but you missed the first half of the movie so you're spending the rest of the time trying to play catch up. Not sure what the motive was here. Why the confusion?
Meh. Eh. Bleh. I mean, I guess. If anything, I'd recommend reading the first book before reading this one. Don't let them lie to you and say there is no first book. There is! I'd say, if you want to give it a shot, go for it. It tackles a subject that deserves so much more attention, if it wasn't the best book to read. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. It had so much potential to be amazing but instead...it fell short.
If you want to grab it, you'll have to wait for November 1st but then you can get it off Amazon. If you do decide to read it, please come back and tell me what you thought. I'd love to know your opinion. Did you think the characters were flat? Or was it just me?
Happy Reading Babes! ❤