Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Let it be known that, I, Professor A, do solemnly swear that Saffron A. Kent’s Hey, Mister Marshall, the final book of her St. Mary’s Rebels series, is its best story. Yep, I said it. It’s my favorite of the four. Don’t get me wrong. I ADORE the first three, but there was something missing for me in those first three stories. In this final story, that missing part was found.
Now, I was reading a review on this book by another reviewer the other day when I was supposed to have finished this story for review BUT alas, I’ve been in jury purgatory and my hours have been swept away from me for purposes of the justice system. Sitting in my jury box, my errant thoughts were focused on Alaric and Poe. So, reviewing my inbox on my breaks, a review came into my inbox for this book, and I wanted to know their thoughts. And they gave this book a “3”….A 3!!! What? Even more, they commented on Alaric wearing a pinky ring and Poe acting like a teenager as two of their reasons for assigning this book that grade. And I rolled my eyes. I know I shouldn’t judge my fellow reviewers, but it became obvious to me that readers of SAK can get lost in the surface details of her books and miss the brilliance of her storytelling.
Here’s the thing. SAK makes moves with intention in her stories, including Hey, Mister Marshall. For one, she uses symbolism and color to both market and connect you more deeply to her characters. Each of her heroines, for example, is assigned a color. That’s intentional. If you want to understand why each corresponds to a particular color, you should do some color analysis to understand it all. Yes, it’s a keen marketing strategy, but it’s more than you believe.
That pinky ring that the reader didn’t get or like. That was key to HMM because it is like a collar or an anchor to Alaric’s past, the thing that strangles his dreams and capacity to both give and receive love. It’s a symbol of a tradition that keeps him jailed in his past. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like pinky rings. That SAK has the capacity to craft this type of symbolism and metaphor in her stories is a huge ARROW to her gift as a writer.
And Poe acting like a teenager, ummm…yeah, she is one. It would have been easy for SAK to remove “teenage-esque” traits out of her St. Mary’s Rebels FMCs, but she would do herself a disservice in doing so. We need Poe to act out. It is partly because she’s a teenager, but it’s more about feeling unloved and unseen. Alaric’s want to dominate her as a response to his past with her mother is wrong. If Poe had readily accepted that without acting out, she wouldn’t be normal. She already isn’t a normal teen given her past. And we see her maturity from that past later in the story when she recognizes a kindred spirit or soulmate in Mr. Marshall. She acts appropriately for her age and life experience, so again, I rolled my eyes at the miss of this other reviewer.
Like her other stories, SAK creates broken worlds with imperfect people. They are titillating and downright dirty. And many of her readers focus on that. However, it’s the emotional gravitas of a book such as Hey, Mister Marshall that makes me pine for more stories from her. The reason that HMM is my fav of the four isn’t the age gap or the spiciness of it. It’s the message of found family for two people who have lived lives feeling unloved. Their experiences are not much different, and your heart bleeds for the wounds inflicted on them as children. That’s where I connected with Alaric and Poe. This is where the depth of storytelling draws you deeply into SAK’s newest book.
When you read a tome from Saffron A. Kent, don’t take it at face value. Granted, she spends much creative time, building the facade of her book. But to get hung up there, you’ll miss out on her magic, her dexterity in the creation of souls that both grab at your soul and make your eyeglasses steam. Hey, Mister Marshall is the perfect end to an already delectable series.
In love and romance,