Heartbreak Incorporated, Alex de Campi‘s Supernatural Thriller was brought to my attention by its publisher, Rebellion Publishing. It sounded intriguing, so I decided to put my hands on an ARC when the opportunity came. I’d like to thank Hanna and Rosie at Rebellion Publishing for the copy in exchange of an honest review.
|Series: –||Genre: Supernatural Thriller|
|Date of Publishing: June 22, 2021||Trigger Warnings: Violence, Gore, Torture (not graphic)|
|Page count: 300||Publisher: Rebellion Publishing/Solaris|
From acclaimed comics writer Alex de Campi, a sexy (prose) novel about an agency that specialises in breaking up relationships, with a side hustle in the occult.
Evie Cross had big dreams of becoming an investigative journalist but at 25 and struggling to make it in New York City, she’s finally starting to admit that her dream is her side hustle and her day job is actually… her job. That is, until she signs on as a temp for a small consultancy whose principal, Misha Meserov, specializes in breaking up relationships. Misha is tall, infuriatingly handsome, and effortlessly charismatic—he can make almost anyone, man or woman, fall into bed with him. And he often does.
But the more Evie is exposed to Misha’s scandalous world, the more she becomes convinced that he’s hiding something… when a wealthy San Francisco tech CEO with a dissolving marriage starts delving into the occult and turns up dead, Evie has to decide between her journalistic desire for the truth and her growing desire for Misha.
“Being too smart too soon never wins you anything as a woman, and Evie thinks it’s one of the great flaws in the world. She’d always assumed if she were really good at something, if she worked hard to be the best, it would impress the boys, and then they’d like her as much as they liked the other girls. Maybe even more. But finally, at twenty-five, she’d realized that boys didn’t want the best girls.”
It took me a while to settle on a band/artist, but then Adam Lambert seemed like a good pick and then I got stuck in choosing a song… I was deciding between Whataya Want From Me and If I Had You, but eventually the latter seemed like a better fit.
I admit, I was not familiar with Alex de Campi‘s name before Heartbreak Incorporated popped up on my radar. Thus, I had no expectation of it, which is probably a good thing as I’m not quite sure how I feel about this Supernatural Thriller. While I was engaged enough to read big chunks of it at a time, I can’t wholeheartedly say I loved – or even liked – this book. I have really conflicted feelings about it, and I’ll try to make sense of it all in my review below.
Heartbreak Incorporated is set in modern New York – and later in San Fransisco – giving a big city backdrop to events unfolding. Evie is young, trying to make a living out of temp jobs while waiting for her big breakout in journalism to finally realize her dreams. Not having many options, she applies to an assistant job for Misha Meserov, who works for a law firm, investigating family-related relationships. Basically, his job is to break them up while collecting evidence for the client. Dishing out self-judgment on the side. Evie is not quite sure how to feel about it, but after an incident, she sees an opportunity for a big story and as a consequence a permanent job at a magazine/newspaper. Problem is, nothing is quite as it seems, and having a crush on her boss does not help things much.
- Setting & worldbuilding: Heartbreak Incorporated is partly set in California, and I have a soft spot for that part of the USA. Though I did not visit the parts mentioned in the book, it still brought back nice memories. It’s also set in New York where I’ve never been, but which I think was the perfect backdrop for Misha’s business. And to help us picture how hard it can be to pursue journalism dreams in the Big Apple. Alex de Campi did a great job at showing us the corporate world with overworked employees and sexist judgemental big bosses, and a media – or more like an editor – only being interested in a story if it serves their purposes.
- LGBTQ+ representation: As I’m not part of the community, I can’t really comment on how well done it is from an insider’s perspective, but it has quite a few queer characters, including the MCs. But I really don’t want to get into it more as it would be quite spoilery. What I’m going to say is, it added a nice touch to character development.
- Writing and pacing: I enjoyed de Campi‘s style, though it took me a couple of pages to get used to the 3rd person present POV. I’ve read big chunks of the book when I sat down as it made a really easy reading and being a Thriller, it’s quite fast-paced – once things get established around the 20% mark.
- Worldbuilding: While I enjoyed the modern setting and those parts were very well established, I couldn’t help feeling that the supernatural parts were lacking. We get some basic explanation how and why certain characters are there, but it felt like there was more telling and less showing when it came to things. Hearbreak Incpororated felt like Alex spent a lot of time in this world and she knows it very well and has everything figured out but not enough makes into the book to really hook the reader. I was left with way too many questions regarding the occult elements of the story – mainly the book and the mysterious guys from Misha’s past. I wish we could explore those things more to have more depth.
- Characters: Try as I might, I just couldn’t make myself care about any of the characters. Evie is annoying more than anything, though she redeems herself eventually and I could even sympathize with her a bit when she was at the party with Misha. Talking about him, we really don’t learn more about him than that he is mysterious and good looking, and later some of his secrets. He is a nice guy whose job is breaking up marriages. Do with it what you will. Would have been nice if he had a bit more personality though. I wanted to learn more about him, about his past about what made him who it is. There are a handful of other characters, but most of them are two-dimensional. I liked Abi though.
- Romance: *sigh* Naturally, Evie has a crush on Misha the moment she lays eyes on him. Not that it stops her from trying to use his agency to further her own career. Their relationship has an insta-love feel to it, which I’m not really a fan of. I also could have done without the explicit sex scenes, or at least if it was a bit shorter. I kinda get why it was needed – to strengthen their bond and that’s fine, but it was just way too much. I also couldn’t buy into why Misha would be interested in Evie in the first place.
- Plot: I had a feeling that the plot took a bit of a backseat to give the front one to the romance. I think I would have preferred if it was the other way around. Especially as it had its promises. Too bad it was way predictable.
And The (Ugly) Truth
Heartbreak Incorporated is a Romance novel dressed up as a Supernatural Thriller. It probably will appeal more to people looking for an LGBTQ romance with a bit of a thrill on the side. It has its promises, but eventually falls flat in the execution. Even so, I’m sure it will find its audience, but sadly, that’s not me, as much as I wanted to love it. Alex de Campi‘s talent is clear, but this novel would have needed a bit more polishing along the way.
Even though it didn’t quite manage to win me over, you don’t need to take my word, check out what our Roadies thought during the book tour we organized at Storytellers on Tour.