Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I often wonder how writers can say so much in the limited pages of a novella. Take one look at Laurelin Paige’s newest offering, Slash, and you realize it’s a master class in the form, much like the course taught within her story. Page after page, you find the heartrending, complicated story of Camila Fasbender, the sister of Edward Fasbender, Paige’s hero in her Slay series. The profession of truth that litters the pages of Slash overwhelms you in a way that feels both traumatic and essential. If I could give this novella a different title, it would be “The Persistence of Patience.” In that patience, Paige elaborates on some essential truths about life.
What I know from reading Laurelin Paige’s booklist is her ability to create these alpha men who consume their heroines. Donovan Kincaid is still my FAVORITE alpha hero in all of romancelandia. Yet, her hero in Slash is nuanced. It could be that we aren’t treated to his point of view in Slash. Quite honestly, it doesn’t feel necessary. What you learn quickly from this story is the erotic nature of patience. Hendrix Reid’s capacity for waiting is his romantic superpower. Paige has crafted him with equal amounts of empathy, persistence, and intuition. These qualities might seem to emasculate him; they don’t. Instead, they match brilliantly with her heroine who requires the capacity of these qualities.
Camila’s characterization is profound. Her being epitomizes trauma. And it feels necessary to read her story. The messages of Paige’s Slash reside in Camila’s portrayal. How do we live an abundant life after surviving it for so long? How do we become vulnerable so that we can be “seen” in our totality? How do we honor both the small and big moments of our life? How do we see our scars as more than their trauma? Over and over again, Paige’s articulation of Camila’s pain resonates and pushes against the scars of her readers, and it makes for a beautifully wrought, intentionally drawn story of healing. In her afterword, Paige explains that parts of Camila’s story didn’t need to be told in the pages of her novella, and I agree because the depth and gravity of Camila in this small space are pained enough that this shortened story form allows you, as the reader, to breathe through the difficulties of her story. Any longer, and I think it would feel like punishment, and her romance might be overpowered. Instead, the way that Hendrix loves Camila through her journey towards becoming vulnerable plays out exactly as it should. I found myself grabbed by Paige’s prose, thrown into Camila’s story, and upended by her truth. This is the art of Laurelin Paige’s Slash.
Paige says it best in her Author’s Note: “When the world feels fragile and broken and unsure, I needed to believe that fragile and broken and unsure is still beautiful.” That is the essence of Camila’s story. It is also the truth that love will see you through your pain. Paige’s Hendrix shows us how to love broken people, how to love humanity. Underscoring this axiom is the art of Paige’s writing. And one can’t help but wonder if Slash isn’t an apt representation of Paige’s own art, rife with anointed words, carefully composed characters, and a story that reminds us that we all bear some hurt and there is a fellowship in that knowledge. That it simply takes someone else “authentically see[ing]” us to be “free.”
In love and romance,