Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
I have a serious confession to make before I launch into my review of T. M. Frazier’s Nine: The Tale of Kevin Clearwater. Prior to this book, I hadn’t read the other books in the King Series. So…shoot me. Well, wouldn’t that fit with the nature of this series? Yes, Frazier provides a warning at the beginning of the book to read the other books so that the fruit of this book is sweeter. However, I was under a deadline to read it by release day, so I didn’t go back and read the other books. Guess what? I will now.
I share this with you, reader who is new to or not well-read in all things T. M. Frazier, because I was not lost in the least with the book. Yes, the other books would provide context to the other characters in the story namely Preppy, King, and Bear (and their accomplished wives). However, to understand Kevin “Nine” Clearwater’s story, it wasn’t required. It would have simply shaded his story in brighter colors, I imagine.
I fell in love with Frazier with her Perversion Trilogy. I think it was promoted in another of my favorite author’s Facebook groups, so I downloaded Perversion, the first book in that trilogy, and fell in love with Frazier’s morally bankrupt anti-hero, Grim. If you are looking for stalwart heroes in her books, you won’t find them, at least in that trilogy and the King series. At first glance, these are “bad dudes” who love fornicating, drugging, and breaking the law. Yet, at their core, there is a sense of justice, of true right and wrong outside a system’s rules. Unfortunately, the systems that raise them cast them into the areas of moral gray. As you read their backgrounds, you simply accept their present actions as necessary for their survival. And through these moments, they find these women who love them despite their moral ambiguity, and it’s heart-wrenching and beautiful, all together.
Kevin “Nine” comes from said system. He’s been abandoned by his parents and raised in a horribly abusive system. He, thankfully, escapes his horribly reprehensible foster home in search of his brother, Preppy. On reaching the home town of his brother, he is told that Preppy is dead, so he is left to survive with no resources. This creates more drama in his life. Thinking of doing himself in, he climbs a causeway bridge and waits. A short time later, a young woman joins him, distraught over the death of her parents. In that moment, they find a communion of spirits, and Nine talks the woman, “Poe,” out of jumping. Unfortunately, as they move to climb off the bridge, Poe drops her necklace, reaches to grab it, and falls into the water below. Nine is distraught over her perceived death and pledges to live life in honor of her.
Three years later, Lenny aka Poe crosses paths again with Nine when Lenny’s boyfriend steals from him, Preppy, King, Bear, and Lenny herself. In investigating the embezzlement, Nine must question Lenny, but he also feels drawn to protect her even more. In doing so, the two of them become attracted to each other. However, the specter of her boyfriend’s action and Nine’s past shadow their burgeoning relationship. Will they survive this?
Have you ever read a book that has a cinematic quality to you? It’s as though you are watching scenes on the page while reading the story. This is the feeling I had as I read Nine. The characters are larger than life, and they seem fit for the movie screen. There is so much that happens in this story that, at times, it seems so unbelievable. From the action of the plot (this is the driving force of this book) to the characterizations to the witty dialogue (the words uttered from Preppy’s mouth in this book are hilarious), I could not put this book down. I want to see this book in a movie form because it easily played out in my mind.
The characters of this book are its strength, and I think this is the norm for Frazier’s books. They are broken and troubled. The men, in particular, seem to carry the biggest load of this. Nine’s past is horrific. In fact, this is my trigger warning. If you have triggers related to sexual abuse, then be forewarned this occurs in the book. He should be broken given the way he is used as a possession. However, he’s intelligent and resourceful, despite his moral ambiguity. As a reader, you accept that this world exists with its own rules, and you approve it even when they’re drinking Preppy’s special smoothie.
The women are also troubled but in other ways. I think they are the heart of the story. I know Lenny is. She takes Nine’s heart and causes it to beat again, simply because she exists. Like Nine, she carries her past with her. Yet, even before her family tragedy, she wears anxiety to herself. She resonates with readers as she struggles to endure life. And her life goes all kinds of wrong within this story. A generally anxious person should not survive Lenny’s lot. Yet, she does survive hers with alcohol and Nine’s strength and fortitude.
“‘No,’ I argue. ‘You’re mine.’ She smiles. ‘I’m yours.’”
Together, Lenny and Nine’s story is beautiful. They rise from the ashes of the ruins of their lives and create a future, a beautiful future. T.M. Frazier’s poetic style grabs your heart and makes you fall in love with these men who are criminals usually. It’s their love for the heroine that drags you under their spell. Nine: The Tale of Kevin Clearwater is no exception. You will watch Nine and Lenny’s love story play out in the cinema of your mind.
In love and romance,