Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Well, buckle up, Buttercups, because T.M. Frazier’s Pawn is a wild ride back in Logan’s Beach. Here’s the thing that intrigues me about T.M. Frazier. Time and time again, she writes these compelling anti-heroes who we should really dislike. They are borderline abusive to the heroine at some point, and yet, we know behind that dangerous, alpha-hole (sometimes, sociopathic) exterior lies a squishy heart that eventually pines for her heroines. Over and over, the merry-go-round goes, and if you’re like me, you hop quickly onto that unicorn seat and go for the ride. Seemingly, Pawn is no different. Seemingly. Instead, Pawn takes a step forward into Frazier’s world. For the first time, there is a weighted gravity to this book, especially given the world we are currently living in. Pawn gives us more of what we love about Frazier, but it also reveals her heart in a way that I think we might miss in her other Logan’s Beach stories.
I don’t want to spoil this book so forgive me if I leave out details of this story. I’m going to attempt to stay away from the plotline because I think it’s best for readers to read Pawn on their own. What I will say, what I think needs to be said, is (1) Pawn offers a perfect ending to the Pike duet. You will be happy with Frazier’s responsibility to this story. You will get more of the same as you received in her other Logan’s Beach stories. There is still some drinking and drugging and fornicating and violencing (my word to allow for parallelism), and happy endings. It’s all there, just as you’ve come to expect from Frazier. But (2) there is a social justice theme to this book that is oftentimes missing from Frazier’s past stories. Obviously, she’s illustrated the issues with poverty, crime, abuse, and social inequities in the other books, but it’s always covered over by the romance and the craziness of her plotlines (I see you, Preppy). In Pawn, however, this story feels incredibly relevant and timely, and it makes a statement about racism and the way in which we should respond to it. Now, don’t get me wrong. Pawn isn’t preachy, not in the least. What it does it take a step forward into the debate that is currently swirling our lives. And for me, it’s an apt response, one that we can enact for ourselves. This is the one time that I feel Frazier’s heart deeply embedded in her story, which makes it almost a necessary read.
The reason I say “almost” is that Frazier’s stories aren’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a clean, morally devout hero, he is not here. If you want a perfectly intact, mentally sound heroine, she can’t be found in this story. What you will find is two characters who feel complete in each other, who have endured struggles beyond the average, and who feel compelled to protect their world. Sometimes, this is wrapped in emotionally-gutting moments or actions that might be morally ambiguous to the reader. For me, it’s that line that T.M. Frazier pushes that keeps me coming back for more. Pawn provides that perfect happily-ever-after for Pike’s duet.
In love and romance,