Thursday, 31 March 2011

Candy G by C. Zampa

What kind of man drives a bulletproof Mercedes and carries a high-powered pistol in the glove compartment along with his boyhood teddy bear? Candy G does, that’s who. Once the exclusive attorney for the most powerful drug lord in San Antonio, he turned his back on Teirso Flores and walked away. But at what price?

Moving on with his life despite the threat of Teirso’s revenge, Candy meets gorgeous, streetwise Carlos Alvarez, and thus begins a passionate love affair rife with danger, secrets, and specters from the past that just won’t let go. When truths are revealed, will the one thing that brought their worlds together be the test that strengthens their love or the knife that severs their bond forever?

Candy G is an exceptional debut book from an author who, in my opinion, knows how to wield the pen and create exquisite visions in the mind of the reader. I’m a fan of M/M, so this book being in the queue was naturally snatched up by my grubby little paws, but I was also interested to read a new voice. And what a voice C. Zampa has. Her word use, the way she strings those words together, is something of rare beauty. There are words and there are words, you know? The ebb and flow of many lines in Candy G are beautiful. They set my heart beating faster, made me cry, made me feel—and that is the best thing, isn’t it? For an author to make you feel. I will admit I am still thinking about this book days after reading it, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Candy G’s main focus is about love and how it makes a person feel. This is what reading romance is all about for me. I’m not overly bothered about what else goes on because it’s the characters who are important. I want their feelings, their desires, their needs given to me, and I got a wealth of them here. I was in heaven.

Candy was an attorney, exclusive to a man named Teirso, who wasn’t a very law abiding citizen. Although Candy represented him, he didn’t necessarily agree with the things Teirso had done. We all know lawyers have a hard time of it—they all represent people who are guilty at some point in their career—but I felt strongly that the younger Candy, given that Teirso was a dangerous man, didn’t really have much choice in repping him. Yes, he could possibly have walked away sooner than he did, but I liked the dose of reality here. Sometimes we cannot walk away due to the reprisals doing so would cause. Some people are stuck in a life they detest, and it doesn’t matter how many people tell them it’s easy to just get out of it…it isn’t. I walked a mile in Candy’s shoes, tried them on, and I understood why he continued to represent Teirso—I would have done the same thing.

Also, it takes time and maturity to figure out when to move on in life. Candy had reached that time—he had the courage to walk away, and when he did his life changed forever.

He had seen Carlos many times over the past months, had fallen a little bit in love with him every time, and knowing this, I let myself imagine exactly how Candy felt. It wasn’t difficult to do, having been given the wonderful wording and visuals by C. Zampa, and my love affair with both men began. It was like they had come alive for me, their love tangible and something that could have been grasped and bottled, something with a delicious aroma that, each time I uncorked that bottle, I could take a small sniff and remember everything about this couple. The way they moved, looked, acted, and the way they loved one another.

Candy is a soft-hearted, beauty of a man. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with him like Carlos did. He’s a big character, fills the book with his presence, which meshes very nicely with the more reserved Carlos. Perhaps Carlos came across to me this way because Candy was so big and huggable—and let’s not forget damn sexy—but the contrast was a fine thing to see. It worked.

Guards came down, trust was built, and the relationship began to develop. Seeing this swept me away into their world—a place I didn’t want to come out of, if I’m honest. I enjoyed every word. I particularly loved the way Candy refused to listen to Carlos when he tried to explain some things about himself. This is how it really is, though, isn’t it? When love first grabs us, we don’t care about the past. And Candy had a past of his own he wasn’t too proud of, so who was he to talk? All that mattered was now, that they were together now and had a future together that would last the rest of their lives.

And then Candy did find out what Carlos had been trying to tell him, and in true-life fashion—because, my God, we switch our emotions and feelings at the drop of a hat, us humans—Candy didn’t like what he heard. Suddenly it did matter. Suddenly, as is the way in life, when we didn’t think we’d care, we do. The consequences of what was revealed put a very different light on things; after all, Candy had helped a bad man get away with some very bad things, and he could be in a big mess…but still, deep inside, Candy knew it didn’t really matter. Not in the grand scheme of things. Yes, he might be in trouble, yes, he’d rather not have known what Carlos had been hiding, but he still loved the man, and that was what shone through for me. That was what saved the day.

The best part of this book? The realness of the emotions. They switched, they rang true for me, and above all? Candy and Carlos were human, with flaws, backtracking, changing their minds, and all manner of very real things we have all done and do. I would have been disappointed if these two had been anything but real—I didn’t want any fake characters, anyone who didn’t act the way Candy and Carlos did, and I was glad of the way they were written.

This line, the way it is set out, showed perfectly how Candy affected Carlos: “But… what if… somebody has… binoculars or just… really good… vision?” (I loved it, and you would have to read this incredibly hot and sensual scene to understand it fully.)

Afternoon light glistened on the river, reflecting ribbons of color that danced on the luxurious brick-and-whitewashed walls and the dark hardwood floor. (Fabulous!)

The owl.

The dove.

My verdict is that this astonishing debut gave me everything I wanted in a romance and more. The decadent descriptions, the setting, the scene in the kitchen—and that’s another wonderful scene where reality is rife, where emotions go awry and things are said and done out of turn—that absolutely fabulous scene on the balcony, where this line just put me right next to those characters, as though I watched this with them: Just beyond the balcony, San Antonio glistened like a million jewels against a black velvet backdrop, and music from clubs and street bands wafted on the balmy night air. The city still buzzed, but we were perched far above the activity, observing it from our own private sanctuary.

This is one of my favourite M/M books. The deepness of their love, the very in-depth insight we get into how Candy feels, the whole air about it fitted my needs and what I want from a romance to a T. I highly recommend Candy G, and if I have to get my poms poms out and dance and sing to make my point, I will. It’s touching. It’s beautiful. It's unforgettable.



C. Zampa said...

Thank you for reading my book, and for the wonderful review.

It's wonderful when someone sees what you wanted them to see, knows your characters as you intended them. What a wonderful feeling.

Thank you!

Sarah Ballance said...

I've read the book, and I have to agree 100% with your "verdict." FABULOUS BOOK!

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Sarah! Hugs!