Many readers know Megan Hart for her emotionally charged and character driven erotica novels. Hart has carved out a unique niche in erotica writing where her works involve characters that are so tangibly real you feel as if you know them and flawed so as to not be idealistic. And of course, since her erotica novels are erotica – woven through the story line are very explicit sex scenes. To say that Hart pushes boundaries is to understate what she does. The Favor is not erotica but it is sexually charged. The Favor is being described as “mainstream fiction”. The Favor is not a happy story and it is not uplifting. But I enjoyed reading it and kept wanting to get back to it. Hart is known for not having happily ever afters but instead having a “happily for now” in her erotica and I know that frustrates some readers. Not me. I find the happily for now comforting and realistic. The Favor is not and does not work itself toward a happily ever after. It is not genre based and fans of Hart looking for a hint of a happily ever after or a focus on romance may be disappointed. Fans of Hart who read her work because of how she writes characters, how she pushes comfort boundaries and how she crafts everyday life into a beautiful story – those fans will enjoy The Favor.
The Favor starts with a premise that so many stories and movies begin with; it is a story line that readers must be fascinated – going home. The main character, Janelle, returns to her home town to care for her dying grandmother.
“home was the place you couldn’t escape no matter how far or fast you ran.”
Janelle is a single mother of a twelve-year old boy. She is in debt, failed at her career and alone. She hasn’t been home for years. Living next door to her childhood home is Gabe. Gabe has always lived there with his father and his brothers; and from the beginning, it is clear that Janelle and Gabe have a history. When Janelle arrives back home, the dynamic between Gabe and her is charged, emotional but distant. The story is a slow start. Hart builds each character carefully and deliberately. What I really enjoyed about Janelle is that she is strong. She has defined who she wants to be, she does what she wants to do and she does not let others thoughts of her influence her actions. She is a girl who dressed different in high school, had sex when she wanted to and sees herself as an individual:
“The truth is, it’s all about power. Get a boy on his knees, begging for just a touch, a taste, a stroking hand, and that’s gaining power.”
Hart knows how to charge a story with sex, with power and with mystery. The Favor has tension but reading the story in the beginning, I was not sure where the tension came from. From Gabe? From Janelle’s past? The Favor winds its way through Janelle and Gabe’s past with flashback scenes that flow smoothly back and forth with the present text. The twist and the cause of the tension is shocking, sad and even though it is shocking – perhaps the reader can figure it out mid-way through the book. Despite that though, the weight of the book isn’t lessened. I didn’t want to put this book down; I didn’t want to walk away. The characters were so well told I felt I was with them.
So I thought I had The Favor all figured out and wham – I didn’t. The act behind what the title implies “The Favor” surprised me (I had to re-read that scene multiple times!), but given the tension and horror of what was happening during their childhood it made sense.
I recommend reading The Favor for readers who enjoy character based stories and are looking for a story about real people, not just an uplifting story. The Favor will not uplift, but it will entertain and enrich.
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