Recently I took part in a “Bloghoppalitz” as part of the release promotions for Freak Out by Ella Emerson. I enjoyed this immensely and gained a large number of followers for my Facebook Page in the process. (Thank you to all my new followers!) This weekend, I got to read the book itself and I have to say, overall, I enjoyed it.
The main protagonist is Chelsea, who has had a tough childhood, following the death of her parents, and has been brought up by her uncle Al, who she adores, with her beloved sister Abbi, and her detested cousin Bridget. Chelsea works for her uncle and while it isn’t the best job in the world, it certainly isn’t the worst, and when Chelsea introduces herself to the reader, she is experiencing a sense of ennui. She’d prefer to be somewhere else and having recently broken up with her boyfriend, Gander, she is plodding along without any real sense of direction.
That is, until she has an unexpected, but very sexy encounter with Freak Phillips in the broom closet. Somewhat of an enigma, he affects Chelsea in a way she does not expect and he somehow becomes her boyfriend, much to the chagrin of her sister, Abbi. Despite Abbi’s protestations, Chelsea continues on a path with Freak that she had never imagined for herself. Freak seems to be a borderline sexual predator to the ditzy Chelsea but if this story has a moral, it would be “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Freak isn’t the loser that Abbi seems to think he is, and Chelsea is stronger than she would appear.
Freak Out is essentially a love story. Both characters have had troubled childhoods for different reasons, both have a deep desire for each other that they cannot shake, no matter how hard they try. Once they have a better understanding of each other, their relationship becomes more of a partnership, where in the beginning, it seems that Freak is calling all the shots, using sex as a weapon and as an enticement in equal measure, leaving Chelsea confused, yet inexplicably aroused. It appears like the beginnings of a dominant/submissive relationship, as Freak punishes Chelsea for arbitrary errors, yet rather than pushing him away, she finds herself wanting him more.
I did feel that there was some repetition in the phrasing and the language used and sometimes, Chelsea’s choice not to explain herself appears to be more for the author’s ease than a character trait, although I’m sure that this is not the case. I also thought that the episode where Chelsea finds three admirers on her doorstep, and the deciding vote on who she should go out with is based on who gave her the best orgasm, ever-so-slightly ridiculous. Funny, yes, but considering that Gander turns up out of nowhere and suddenly wants Chelsea back without any prior warning that this was a possibility, just didn’t work for me.
On the whole, this was a nice, easy book to read and there was a lot to like about it. I enjoyed Chelsea’s confusion in terms of what Freak’s endgame was going to be and I liked Freak’s back story as it was unpacked throughout the narrative. While there were parts of the novel that I thought could have been expanded upon and parts that perhaps the narrative could have done without, it didn’t stop me from being entertained and I read it in one sitting, so I was gripped enough to keep on reading. Overall, the two main characters were very intriguing, in that they both seem to be unsure of each other, yet cannot leave each other alone. I’m looking forward to being involved in the blog tour for Emerson’s future releases and reading and reviewing more of her novels.