Review: The Lost and Found

Lost and Found

Title: The Lost and Found
Author: E. L. Irwin
Format: E-book
Note: I was given an ARC of this ebook in order to provide an honest review.

The Plot: After tragedy strikes, eighteen-year-old Crimson Sage Smyth and her younger brother, Ethan, move in with their grandfather, Billy, who runs a ranch for troubled boys. Once there, Crimson struggles to deal with her losses and sort out her feelings for Josiah, a hunky, tattooed loner who works on the ranch. Revelations about Crimson’s past and danger looming in her future hang over both of them, but if they’re lucky enough, these two lost souls may find each other just in time.

The Verdict: I have mixed feelings about this novel. On the one hand, the writing is competent and the story is engaging. Despite some telling rather than showing, it was a fun experience. I read this book in one sitting and didn’t find myself checking my watch. However, the lead is very much an Alpha Male type, and is possessive and has anger issues, and I felt that the relationship wasn’t always healthy. There’s an unfortunate ‘slut’ stereotype character, and the novel’s views on abortion and premarital sex come through just a bit too pointedly. However, if you like possessive alpha male hero types, you will probably enjoy it.

The Rating: 5.5/10

SPOILERS, EXPLICIT SPOILERS, AHEAD.
The Bad:
• Women aren’t things. Even before Crimson and Josiah so much as discuss any sort of relationship, Josiah makes it a point to go to another dude who’s interested in Crimson and let him know that Josiah’s into her to, and I quote, “Stake his claim”. He continues to behave this way, seeming to believe that she belongs to him because they’re dating, threatening to punch/beat up other guys who flirt with her.
• Josiah’s got issues. He’s a lovely person when it comes to Crimson and Ethan, but he’s got serious anger problems when it comes to everyone else. When Rob first starts being stalker creepy, Josiah swears that he’ll kill him, to the point where Crimson’s worried he will actually do it and go to jail, even though Rob, at this point, hasn’t physically harmed her. Later, he’s tempted to beat someone up for dancing with Crimson while having feelings for her, even though Crimson’s run off to another state because she’s upset at him.
• Charlene. There are three women focused on in The Lost and Found: Crimson, who decides not to have sex until marriage, Gracie, who does have premarital sex but with only one guy, whom she’s been dating since sixth grade, and Charlene, who dresses in a ‘street’ style (mentioned several times. We get it, she dresses like a slut), has lots of tattoos and piercings, and proceeds to harass Crimson, photoshop pictures of herself sleeping with Josiah, and act in league with Rob, apparently simply because she used to have a crush on Josiah, apparently? And she’s not a nice person? Look, she’s the stereotypical ‘slut’ character who sleeps around a lot and has no morals (as opposed to Crimson, who is lauded for her decision to marry at age nineteen, partially so she and Josiah can finally sleep together. Great life choice; solid foundation for a happy marriage right there). Charlene honestly doesn’t have very good motivation, she’s just evil and slutty for the sake of being evil and slutty, apparently.
• Crimson doesn’t have goals outside of Josiah. We first meet her right after she graduates high school, and not a single mention is made of what she planned on doing with her life before her parents died. Higher education or a career isn’t mentioned at all; she tutors kids on the ranch and gets a part-time job for money, but there’s no mention of any dreams or aspirations outside of dating Josiah.
• Unexpected, graphic violence. The majority of this book is pretty sweet with some hints of danger here and there, but towards the end there is an attempted sexual assault followed by a very graphic death (killing someone in self-defense) which felt a bit unexpected. At least, I didn’t expect it to be described quite so vividly.
• There’s quite a bit of telling rather than showing. Partly, this is done to gloss over time skips, as the novel takes place over about a year, but a lot of times it felt unnecessary, and I would have appreciated some more details on how characters felt or reacted to some parts.

The Good:
• The story is actually pretty fun. I did read this book in one sitting, and I genuinely enjoyed the experience, even while I was shaking my head at the less-healthy parts of the relationship between Josiah and Crimson. It’s certainly readable, and I’d love to read this author’s take on a more egalitarian relationship.
• The healthy parts of the relationship are pretty sweet. Josiah does help Crimson come to terms with her parents’ deaths, and he is genuinely respectful of her abstinence decision and never tries to manipulate her into changing her mind.
• Crimson doesn’t get over her parents’ death right away, and that’s okay. She goes through grief and learns how to move ahead rather than wake up one morning and wake up completely healed.
• Both Crimson and Josiah have trauma in their pasts, but they don’t angst over it incessantly. They cope with it and move on with their lives in a fairly healthy way, which was refreshing.
• Aside from the issue of occasional telling rather than showing, it was really well-written. There weren’t major grammatical/spelling issues and the story flowed from page to page. It maybe could have used a bit of tightening, but otherwise it was quite enjoyable.
The Rec: Look, if you don’t have a problem with jealous, possessive Alpha Male types, this is a book with an entertaining story and some sweet moments. If you do, I would give it a miss.

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