ARC Review: Kale’s Paroxysm, by Nina R. Schluntz

Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author

via Sage’s Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review.


KalesParoxysm_WDKale has spent years in a volatile relationship with his ex, Martin. Convinced he will come back, even after a conflict that results in Kale being incarcerated and suspended from his law firm, Kale begins a no-strings-attached relationship with the man he meets in jail.

Eli has always kept his romances with men temporary. He hasn’t always been honest about being gay and he prefers to keep the secrets of his past hidden. Kale’s obsessive nature makes it difficult though, and soon their relationship is edging toward something more. Kale’s possessiveness appears to have no limits, nor do his fits of rage, and Eli worries, as Kale’s affection shifts from Martin to Eli, that he may become Kale’s next victim rather than his lover.


Dates read:
Edition read:
April 7, 2016
MLR Press, LLC
Contemporary, M/M, LGBT+
311 e-book pages
3rd person
June 15-17, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
Click for more information regarding ratings.


Kale’s Paroxysm was quite unlike anything I’ve ever read. Ever.

I’m strugglin’ y’all. I liked this…but I didn’t want to like this. So, being me, I’m gonna lay out the honesty. My rating is high, and I’ll get around to explaining that.

Initially, I had a very difficult time forming a connection with the characters and kept asking myself…when am I supposed to like these guys?

Maybe I was taking it all too seriously because a moment came barreling out of the blue that made me giggle snort. In that moment I realized that maybe, just maybe, I needed to relax and watch this all play out like an impending train wreck happening in slow motion before my very eyes. A thing happening where I had no control and was compelled to watch anyway.

This is ultimately a story about the bad guy getting his HEA. Does he deserve it? That’s the big question.

True Fact: Kale is a reprehensible human being with the fitting name of a vegetable I despise. To call him flawed would be like saying a junkyard jalopy might have a just little scratch. This guy is awful. He’s violent, obsessive, unpredictable, petulant, recalcitrant, kind of a lunatic, abusive, stalkerish, and has worse separation anxiety than a golden retriever. There’s not much that redeems him, other than showing up when he’s needed and helping an underdog…and he’s good-looking.

Eli was a bit harder for me to pin down. He’s way more likable, but he’s also kind of sneaky. He tells a few fibs and lies of omission. But he’s got a heart of gold. I liked that he had a spine and stood up to Kale, but I didn’t always believe he should stick around to see if any ‘what ifs’ would come to fruition. I mean…he accepted that a time would likely come that Kane would hit him because that’s Kane’s track record with previous lovers…and people in general. DUDE! I was a bit let down to see Eli didn’t have a whole lot of self-preservation sense to run far, far away.

These guys together is when the magic happens because Eli is mostly a calming force for Kale and helps with Kale’s off-the-wall perspective. I’m not totally sure what Kale does for Eli, other than helping him out with life’s curveballs.

So does a bad guy deserve an HEA? I just…. Sure? I guess? I’m in the camp that believes everyone deserves to be loved, so I perhaps I have to make room for the folks who aren’t always nice and who do bad things. I’d feel better about standing on that soapbox on Kale’s behalf though if I’d seen a bit more redemption and how he got there.

The heat level was pretty low with the exception of some steamy, passionate kisses. The sex is all fade-to-black/off-page business. As much as I like reading the sexy-times, it was okay not having them because some moments of simple intimacy helped to balance it all out.

There were a few predicaments that had me laughing out loud, nearly busting a gut. Often they were times when Kale got what was coming to him. Often when Eli wasn’t letting Kale get away with his shit. Also, I fully accept the fact that my sense of humor can be a little dark and twisty.

Technically, the writing was mostly fantastic and kept to a steady pace. My copy was an ARC, so I’m hoping the final, final version took care of some misused words and a few instances of choppy sentence structure.

Why my high rating? Early on in the book, with a lot of the evidence suggesting that I would never like Kale and only sort of like Eli and wasn’t fully connecting, I was mentally preparing myself to have to tell the author that this book didn’t work for me. I mentioned a turning point — that doesn’t mean that Kale or Eli all of a sudden won me over and it was all stardust and unicorns until “The End.” That didn’t happen. What did happen was my engagement level ramped up and off the freaking charts. I couldn’t read fast enough to see what would transpire next and see the reactions and consequences play out. Like the aforementioned train wreck. So…high marks for keeping my hate of a character strong, keeping my rapt attention, and really freaking good writing.

*BIG NOTE* There should be some trigger warnings stated somewhere in the blurb or front matter. I couldn’t find any so, I feel it’s my civic duty to warn readers who need that info in advance: This book includes physical assault, sexual assault, and a suicide attempt.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

Purchase Links:

Amazon | MLR Books

About the Author:

Author PicNina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.

Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. And their kitty, a rescued Abyssinian, is always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration.

“Kale’s Paroxysm” is Nina’s first contemporary novel, but will not be her last. Visit her blog,, for information regarding previous and upcoming publications. She also posts book and movie reviews for a wide variety of genres.

Twitter: @mizner13


The author is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card during her tour! The giveaway ends todayJune 25th.

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See Nina’s Guest Post from Thursday.

3 thoughts on “ARC Review: Kale’s Paroxysm, by Nina R. Schluntz

  1. Hi…Great review I must say! Just wanted to ask one thing – sexual assault that you mentioned, is it graphically described or is it off the page? Honestly, I don’t read books that include rape (always leave me nauseous), but I really really want to read this one…so if you could clarify it a little for me it would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Hi Milica! Great question, and I should have clarified in my review. Without giving too much away (hopefully)…I’ll first note that neither main character is the perpetrator or the victim. One of the MCs walks in on the assault in progress and only what happens from that point onward is described from his perspective. It’s not graphic regarding the sexual assault itself, but a little of the aftermath as he deals with the perpetrator and helps the victim. There were no big clues leading up to the scene and it caught me off-guard enough that I felt it might be triggering for some readers. Hope that answers your question!

      • Thanks so much for your prompt answer! I was reluctant to try this one, since it’s not exactly conventional romance, but you have me convinced 🙂

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