🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Five shooting stars to Jennifer Brasington-Crowley for her book Nightmare – just released on June 13!
📚Nightmare (standalone book, adjacent to Stillwaters series)
🖤Author: Jennifer Brasington-Crowley
📍Find it: Amazon. This book is in Kindle Unlimited.
✔Genres: Contemporary Literary Fiction, LGBTQ+ Literary Fiction, Unconventional Romance
Nightmare, by Jennifer Brasington-Crowley
Find this book on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Nightmare-Jennifer-Brasington-Crowley-ebook/dp/B0C4Q4DDD3
Some Nightmares Happen When You Are Wide Awake
Author Jennifer Brasington-Crowley “upped the ante” with her latest book, Nightmare, finally revealing Jay Nightingale’s backstory to hungry fans. We first met him in Cayman Island (book two in the Stillwaters series and a personal favorite of mine). Through that book and the subsequent Nightingale (book three), readers are provided with peeks into the good man’s past. Before readers even open the first page of Nightmare, we know that Jay’s dealt with addiction, mental abuse, significant family dysfunction, and a heart-wrenching battle with body image. We also know Jay Nightingale was once known as uber rock star Jake Nightmare – the main character in, you guessed it, Nightmare.
NOTE: Nightmare is a standalone book, and readers do *not* need to read the Stillwaters series to enjoy it. However, readers like me are rewarded because we *do* know Jake Nightmare’s future via that series. This book simply brings his history full circle for us.
Fans of Brasington-Crowley never expect things to be sugarcoated, and why should they be? Sometimes life *is* nasty and brutish, but hopefully not short – although it could have been for Jake.
The author did so many things right with Nightmare starting with the first chapter. Brasington-Crowley began the story with Jake – aka Chubby Cubby – running away from home to his older brother’s place in California. It was a smart move by the author to take the reader straight to the main storyline without getting stuck in the space Jake wanted to flee. We didn’t have to spend time with his parents. (His mother is particularly difficult to stomach.)
And so, the story begins with an actual journey – a drive across many states to California – and a figurative one: a coming-of-age trek that would take Chubby Cubby from an anxious 16-year-old runaway to an anxiety-riddled rock star with a stadium-filled audience at his feet.
It’s not an overnight success story, and the reader is introduced to key characters along the way: his brother Tim; the men who would become his band members, including Jordan (Stillwaters series readers, you will love Jordan even more); Kate (I call her HATEFUL Kate); and others who will make a massive mark on Jake’s tender heart and soul – like fellow rock star Sister Sin (shudder).
Also, and I will not spoil it for you, but a character readers know from the Raven Song series shows up in a big way – and. I. Loved. It. (If you haven’t read the Raven Song series, you will still enjoy getting to know this pivotal character very much. Sorry, I can’t say more!)
Let’s get into some deeper observations:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Brasington-Crowley is NOT afraid to break your heart. In Nightmare, she did it in small ways at the onset – the first being the short back-and-forth between Jake and his little brother Cody as Jake’s sneaking out to run away from home. Cody trusts Jake and thinks he’s coming back. It’s a bittersweet moment between the two. But another thing the author excels at is taping the pieces of your heart back together. Cody returns as an adult at the end of the book and is there for Jake in a meaningful way when he needs it the most. You’ll feel like she brought you full circle.
The author will break your heart in big ways: the destruction Jake’s wife Kate (HATEFUL Kate) brings into his life is shocking. Kate, a narcissist, is creative in her abuse. There were moments when I was so frustrated with Jake for trying to appease her. Then I checked myself: Don’t blame the victim. Again, Brasington-Crowley leads the reader through a range of emotions, and hopefully, by questioning your own reaction, you will walk away with a more understanding heart.
The author demonstrated how easy it is for an average, everyday life to spin out of control when someone – who might not be so worldly – sets out on a new path and is walking amongst the wolves…those people who choose to use and abuse. It’s easy to judge someone for their choices, but it’s not as simple as that. Brasington-Crowley pulls the reader through this nightmare network, revealing a tender and kind soul who is eager to please and feel better about himself. This is a theme visited frequently by the author and is a reminder to reserve judgment for your own actions. Let others be.
The characters Brasington-Crowley created alongside Jake were…sometimes rabidly vivid. This is a book for adults. Beyond serious subjects like addiction and emotional/mental abuse, the author explores mature themes like sexual coercion and assault (on a male). Again, here is where Brasington-Crowley excels: She’ll take the reader to the darkest moments, but then she’ll turn around and deliver light (hello, Jordan). And semi-spoiler: the story will end on a brighter note. (Some readers already know this because an older Jake shows up as Jay in the Stillwaters series in a beautiful way.)
Other characters – loving and kind like Jordan – deliver an oasis of calm for Jake and also the reader. Brasington-Crowley, for all her grit, is about balance. (And there’s another character I can’t name here because…spoiler! But you will love this person.)
Understanding sexuality is another theme explored in Nightmare – Jake is bisexual, and his journey to self-acceptance is beautifully handled. The reader will also find healthy and unhealthy (understatement) sexual relationships/encounters, both heterosexual and bisexual. This is a novel with mature themes and scenes.
The pacing of the book was on-point. As the pages turn, the level of action and number of problems increase. This continues, steadily, throughout the book until the reader hits a threshold, and then…BREATHE! We all take a breath. It’s been a journey, but look around – we’re all still here. Jake’s body and soul (and our souls) might have been banged up, but we’re all still here.
A new chapter is coming for Jake Nightmare. It’s just in a different book. Go buy and read Cayman Island by Jennifer Brasington-Crowley if you haven’t already.
Five shooting stars for Nightmare! Wow…wow! I was nervous about this book because I knew Jay Nightingale as Jake Nightmare would go through hell, and I was nervous for him. But I’m so glad Brasington-Crowley wrote his story, and I was smart enough to read it.
Now, go get YOUR copy!