by Jen Frederick
I might be only nineteen, but I know what I want. It’s Leka Moore. I don’t care that he took me in when he was barely more than a kid himself. I don’t care that he raised me. I don’t care everyone thinks being with him is wrong. I know we belong together, and the only person I need to convince is him.
I found her in the corner of a dark alley. If I hadn’t taken her with me, she would’ve died that night—or maybe worse. Before I knew it, she became the light in my dark life, the haven from the madness. I watched her grow up. I tried to teach her right from wrong. Now that she’s an adult, I’m feeling things that no good man should ever feel. But then…I’ve never been a good man. I have a chance at redemption by saving her from the greatest danger of all—me.
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Rape, rape and more rape.
I won’t hesitate here: I did not enjoy this story.
I love a good dark romance. I understand violence and degradation happen, because they’re recurring themes and features within the genre. Rape, sad to say, is still an ongoing issue in society and because it is such a dark, harrowing topic oftentimes it is featured in dark romance to dehumanise and demonise the antagonist.
But this? Kind of went too far.
Every woman, but three (including the female protagonist) either fell into: being a whore, prostitution, raped beyond belief, degraded, etc. Not one woman possessed a feeling of self-worth or agency, including Bitsy, to become the voice for every female character.
Poverty, hunger and homelessness will push humans towards making questionable actions and saying horrible things; police brutality and corruption happens everywhere around the world, but the way these topics were approached and handled was done with nonchalance.
Bitsy’s maturity levels are nonexistent. While she refuses to grow up, Leka is forced into it, too fast, too messily, to compensate for Bitsy’s inability to be an adult for two seconds.
I wouldn’t consider their “romance” romance, but rather a dysfunctional, toxic codependency with an emotionally stunted dynamic that even Dr. Phil couldn’t analyse. Bitsy harbours an unhealthy obsession and attachment towards Leka, who’s essentially a combination of father figure, older brother, perfect saviour and strange partner.
She’s initially nothing more than a girl Leka saves, making this coming-of-age narrative turn into some kind of forbidden romance. In the beginning, she’s some sweet, little girl who’s attached towards her saviour. But the minute she turns nineteen, Bitsy becomes this sudden, uncontrollable sexual fiend who enters a never ending push-pull game with Leka.
In no way does a smooth transition happen between teenage Bitsy and adult Bitsy. It is odd. Rough around the edges. And her sudden transformation feels a combination of expected and unexpected.
I also hate every male character, including Leka, who possesses no redeemable qualities whatsoever. I don’t care that he maintains a virgin status at 26. I don’t care that he cares about Bitsy. He is an awful human being with zero compassion for everyone around him until poor little Bitsy is threatened by some madman who, by the way, doesn’t seem to care about the danger surrounding her.
I’m disappointed that this story didn’t work me, because the synopsis was intriguing. I expected Want You to focus on Bitsy and Leka’s relationship as adults, with flashbacks weaved throughout to solidify their relationship, and create this connection between the reader and the characters. Instead, the story explored them as children/teenagers more so than as adults. I understand the decision to do this, as it does show that the main characters have history, but the time they have as adults is fairly limited.