Book Review – Arsen by Mia Asher

by Maryse on August 25, 2013 · 52 comments

in My Book Reviews

Arsen. A broken love story
<—– You guys. YOU GUYS!!!! THIS ONE!!!!!!!!! OMG SO THIS ONE. I book-zombie LOVED IT!!!!! I could barely put it down and once things got rolling, I was glued to it and stayed up until I was finished. Cried. No SOBBED (bed shaking and everything. Sleeping husband even rolled over in his sleep to hug me). OMG I was wrecked. The emotion was building and building and then my anger turned to devastation. And in my absolute agony, I was delighted. This was the kind of soul-deep reaction that makes me never forget a book, and want to scream it from the rooftops. It. made. me. FEEL.

I was just soooooooo nervous about where I knew it was going to take me, but I didn’t anticipate how I would process it. I don’t even know what to say. I’m a jumble of thoughts, emotions and words that are slamming around in my head as I try to write this, and my 4am book-zombie brain is soooo sluggish right now, so I’m just gonna spill it as I feel it.

Sandy was the first one to bring it to our attention a week or so ago before it’s release:

Sandy: Stayed up all night reading and ARC of Arsen by Mia Asher-Author. I am totally & completely gutted in a wonderful way. Cannot wait until all of you can read Arsen. Mia Asher’s book is not for the faint of heart but man I freaking loved it. Maryse it made me squeeeee for sure.

Squee, huh? Well in that case… ;)

So I put it on Friday’s bargain/reader recommendation list, read the synopsis, highlighted a part of the synopsis on my post ’cause WHOA. Right? It sounded like it would be a total roller-coaster ride.

But I had my weekend reading set, so I added it to my TBR list and moved on. And then I received a few insistent recommendations.

Lisa: Arsen is so so so so good…especially if you like emotional rollercoasters that completely mess with your mind:)

Maryse: Lisa you’re killing me!!! I have my reading already planned out and this one sounds like it’s totally my thing, so now I want to read it now! I’m already squeamish over the potential love-issues, and that delights me.

Angie: If you get anytime at all READ THIS BOOK. OMG Maryse it’s crazy, angsty and heartbreaking but beautiful and hopeful at the same time. It’s got such a gripping story line. It’s a favorite of mine this year. I don’t recommend books a lot but I felt compelled to message you about it. It’s absolutely INTENSE!

Maryse: Hey!! It’s the one I highlighted on my post today and in my comments saying I was dying to read it. Cool! That cinches it.

Angie: Yay!!! Ok squeee!!! If you need support let me know lololol! It’s angsty!!!

Lindsay: It 3am and I just finished reading Arsen, and let me tell you….ok, Well, I’m am literally speechless, I’m reeling and pulling my hair right now. It’s Thoughtless and Thief times 2. This book is that good and you will not be disappointed!

Sarah: I bought it last night, after seeing it on your blog—-and EEP!! I love me some angst, but we both know that it can be overdone…this was NOT!  It was the perfect amount of angst, a big dash of toe-curling steaminess and a huge helping of head spinning, make your soul hurt kind of love. Seriously, the perfect recipe for an all-nighter with some ugly-cries.

Maryse: I cried. 3am… Crying. That *spoiler* KILLED me. I love *spoiler*, and yes… I didn’t put it down and stayed up late to finish. Wow, right?

I want to re-read so many parts, but let me tell you, they’d have me sobbing again. This was a different kind of “fall in love” for me. While there were sweet, swoon-worthy moments, and things said that had me falling, where I fell hard was in the heartbreak. Those scenes were my favorite parts, and to re-read them would send me reeling again.

This book had everything to make me cringe, scowl, fume, scoff in disgust, roll my eyes (<— lots of this at first, I was so irritated… about it all), get nervous, agitated, squirm in absolute discomfort, and all the while… the most important part. I felt my heart break bit by bit, until a certain poignant scene (or let’s make that THREE successive scenes) obliterated it once and for all. Perfectly PERFECTLY DETAILED, perfectly described, perfect facial expressions, perfect dialogue, perfect EVERYTHING and SOOOO realistic, I swear this must have happened, exactly as it played out.

But at first, I almost put it down. I really struggled with the beginning of the book (two specific characters that just weren’t “doing it” for me), and from the look of my irritated notes, this lasted up until 40%. The dialogue  and come-ons by Mr. Temptation were eye-rolling, and I didn’t “buy” it. Him. Her. The dialogue. The cockiness. The innocent “decisions”. The “friendly” to suddenly “deeper” conversations. Ugh. When it came to a certain character, my mind was all… *ick*. I know he’s a gorgeous, famous playboy/rich player, but come on. I was thinking to myself… Can you be any tackier? Does anyone really talk like this? Can you be any more obvious? This book isn’t really going to keep up like this, is it? But I knew… there’s no way this many people loved this book to this level, with the story and writing progressing like… this. I knew I had to stick it out. Something was niggling at me, telling me to just sit back, relax and not over-think it. “Keep snacking” like my book was a bag of chips, and not worry so much about a “proper” meal (deeper book) right yet.

I know… that doesn’t sound promising, right? No worries (for those of you that can stand this kind of storyline. This kind of incredible angst). I am SO relieved that I stuck with it. What a treat! It turned from “junk food” to a gourmet dessert, with touches of bittersweet laced through it. This is why I love reading. For making me feel to the core, like I did.

So… who knows what the deal is with that first part (and me)? Did the author do that on purpose? Was I just so prejudiced (or nervous) against a couple of the characters right off the bat that I was sabotaging my own reading experience? Or did I just get “used” to the characters, the writing… and where it was going?

Actually, I’m going to say it almost seems like after the 40% mark, the author found her rhythm, or there was some sort of writing break between the two sections of the book, because part two felt real, and for me, the writing, the sequence of events, the internal thought processes and dialogue were leaps and bounds better than the first section, that… well. *shrug* Whatever it is. Whatever it “was”… all I can say is no matter how low I felt like “starring” that intro, at a certain point my notations took a different tone. All of the sudden, you could tell I was paying attention… feeling it more. And then I stopped writing notes altogether. I was SO INTO it, and where it went, and what it did to me overrode any and all of my first impressions.

OKAY STOP HERE FOR THOSE that don’t want to know anymore and prefer reading kind of blindly. Just know I loved it and highly recommend it to those that can take this “kind” of angst. You know what kind I mean. While I don’t “spoil it”  below (after all… who knows how something like this’ll end… ;) ), I analyze *stuff* and my feelings a whole bunch. 

So what’s it about?

A bored (but more than bored… more like internally dying) wife, that meets someone at work.

I feel like I’m making a pact with the devil.

I still don’t fully trust him.

It’s a mess. She’s a mess. He’s a mess. And they make a mess.

Oh it killed me.

This one was so different in that… the main “love” (her husband) was amazing. He was absolutely gorgeous. Successful. Sweet. Considerate. Supportive. Kind. Treated her like an equal. LOVED her to no end, and let her know regularly. Every woman wanted him and he only had eyes for her. He wasn’t some sexy womanizer that made her insecure. Not some alpha-ass that was bossing her around so much that she couldn’t take it anymore. He wasn’t in the least bit abusive. He was perfect, but to me, not in that overly *fake* perfect way. I loved him from the start. Which is why this story was so much more difficult to relate to, or accept. Because usually, going into a “triangle” you get a sense right from the start as to why… this might happen.

Why do I always behave like such a bitch to him when he’s just trying to be sweet?

But in this case, it really was a case of “It’s not you. It’s me” when it came to her, (us, ’cause we’re in her head) and boy what a mess it was. But then again… her scars ran deep, and no matter how much I resented her, there is one scene that made me realize (internalize) all of it. All of her mess. And why she is where she is, mentally.

I feel like my marriage and my own sanity are hanging by a very thin thread…

So that’s it. I’m going to let you experience the rest, if you’re up for it. One of my favorite books this year.

2 to 3 stars for the first half, 5 stars for most of the second half. And, at first (and for a while, as I read this), I totally wasn’t going to give it 5 stars. There was no way I could, considering all of my angry/irked notes. In fact, I didn’t even know if I was going to finish it, so if we factor that in, well, you see where I’m coming from, right? If I’m being objective, and factoring in how I felt in the first half as well as the second half, I suppose I’d give this one 3 to 4 stars.

BUT!!!! While ratings should factor in writing, characters, originality, editing and all of that… for me, if a book makes me feel so much that it overrides everything else in my reading experience, then sometimes, I have to stick with that. I prefer rating mostly on feeling, and lasting impressions of a book, (because that is why I read) and for that, I’m actually giving this one:


“I wish I could save you, Cathy. Take the pain away; erase it from your body. I wish I could hurt for you, but I can’t. You have to save yourself. All I can do is love you. Through it all, just love you. But you need to let me back in.”

*whoooo* Y’all may need a “support group”/chat area so I started this “discussion” in the spoiler forum:

P.S. Oh yeah… why I said 5 stars for most of the second half: the epilogue answered a ton of my questions. *phew* I needed the answers, and at the same time I’m all…. seriously? It kind of moved this super-real-life feeling book, back into “soap” territory, but no matter. I’m going with it.

P.P.S. It’s a complete book. I think. ;)

P.P.P.S. So did I squee? Well… it’s hard to *squee* and sob at the same time (this story doesn’t really lend itself to squeeing), but if I think back to how I feel about a certain… someone, right now? Oh yes!!! *squeeeeeee*

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa August 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM

I’m so glad you liked it:)

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Oh so am I!

I want to re-read it. My heart just cramped thinking of *that* scene again.

Lisa August 25, 2013 at 10:25 AM

LOL! If you like this one, you should hear some of the other crazy ideas Mia has up her sleeve;) She’s a very original thinker.

Lindsay August 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM

This story was so emotional and honest it gutted me. I found myself pulling my hair in some parts and seriously truly feeling the heroines heartache in others. I’m so glad it was a stand alone novel. Or was it?

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Right?? That epilogue…

Nancy Parken August 25, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Thanks (I think) you just changed my TBR list once again.

Amy August 25, 2013 at 10:49 AM

I’m so glad you liked it. Such a fantastic heart wrenching emotionally angsty story.
PS–Team Ben <3

Teri August 25, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Ok. I just bought it. I’ll let you know how I enjoy the ride!

Lise August 25, 2013 at 10:54 AM

WOW… I’m a book zombie right with you. This one had my emotions in an all night upheaval. The ending was AWESOME…

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 10:56 AM

*love* ahhhhhhh I just love it so much!!!!

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 10:57 AM

If anyone needs to chat about it (or needs support as they read it) I created a discussion for it in the “spoiler forum”:

Lindsay August 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM

I will definitely need to rant and rave about this book! It’s been days and I’m still overwhelmed by it. Two big questions still unanswered…

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 11:22 AM

We’re chatting there right now!

Lisa August 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Ok… You just convinced me. I was going to do a re-read today in anticipation of new releases this week of Origin & Sometimes it lasts, but you just changed my mind :-) . Downloaded:

Louise O August 25, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Maryse—You had me at the word “FEEL”…that is what I want a book to do. Sold!

Sandy Borrero August 25, 2013 at 12:19 PM

I KNEW IT! Maryse thank you for reading it.

Ash August 25, 2013 at 1:43 PM

I’m only 32% in and I’m so nervous. I’m soooo nervous.

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 1:49 PM

As well, you should be. I was dreading it.

Marilyn August 25, 2013 at 1:50 PM

I start it tomorrow. Taking a deep breath!

Marina August 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

I’m on it! Sorry Outlander, you will have to be put aside for the 4th time.
But how can I resist this review?!?!?!?

Ash August 25, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Maryse, 57%. I’m debating on whether or not we are still friends. It’s highly likely I could punch a baby goat.

Maryse August 25, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Haha! Let me know… ;)

Amy August 25, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Ha, I just started it this morning and I am only at the 59% point and was already thinking, “I have GOT to let Maryse know about this one!” Nice to know I’m not the only one being affected by it. I seriously blew over your whole post and comments because I don’t want anything spoiled, but I will be reading your review when I am finished. Oh, and I have picked the polish off of 3 of my nails so far while reading this ovary buster. *whimpers*

Amy August 26, 2013 at 3:51 AM

Um. It’s 1:51 a.m. How the fricken frack am I supposed to sleep now after reading that one?!? THIS is the kind of book I crave. Where the emotions kick me in the junk. I’m just…yeah, I’m not even going to try and describe it except to say that was devastatingly fantabulous. ;)

heather gibb August 26, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Holy freak!!!! Good thing the kids start school today so I can nap. Because even when I finished it I couldn’t sleep!!!! I’m waiting for permission for forum right now to go see what others are saying. But great book in that it DOES make you feel!!!!

Rebecca August 26, 2013 at 8:18 AM

I am at 35% and I know you say to hang in there, but I’m really afraid of where its going! You definitely make it sound worth sticking with!!! But I’m so nervous!!!

Hlee August 27, 2013 at 12:50 AM

I absolutely love this book!!!

Heather August 27, 2013 at 7:45 AM

This book is seriously going to give me an anxiety attack! I am mad at myself for reading it after reading your review, I knew better! Ahhh!! BTW, at 50%.. Ugh

Helen August 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM

I loved this book.All I wanna say is I want a Ben.

Ali August 27, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I thought it was very well written, but MAN… I DID NOT LIKE CATHY! Probably one of my least favorite “heroines” (I use that term loosely) in a novel. She’s an idiot. Now, I want a Ben.

Arryn August 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Oh god I’m at 20%! You guys are freaking me out and I’ve barely started! I already feel myself hating her!! And arsen what a douche!!!

Irene August 27, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Hi Maryse, Thanks again for a great recommendation. So painful, so good. My heart is broken for all of them. It was an amazing read. This killed me. Back to scifi and vamps, not as painful to read.

Maryse August 27, 2013 at 3:26 PM

I get you, Irene. I’ve got Dougal by Kerrelyn Sparks waiting to cheer me up soon. :)

Patty August 28, 2013 at 8:04 AM

OMG…stayed up until 1:30 to finish…now at work got up at 6:00….I am lifeless….at about 75% I wanted to stop I was afraid of what I might read……OMG…it was heart wrenchiing and heart warming…is that even possible. BUT do you think there may be a sequel? No cliffhanger but definitely left the door open for possibilities……. I’m so lost I don’t know what I should read next…this left me a bit numb……

Any rumors of a seuel..

ps.. Maryse…. I live and read by you reviews and you haven’t done me wrong yet !!!!! You are amazing!!!!

Maryse August 28, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Hi Patty!

The author said there *may* be a spin-off book for you know who. ;)

Patty August 28, 2013 at 11:52 AM

That would be awesome…I think there was some unfinished business between them… I will keep an eye out.

On another note do you ever have book conventions in the NJ area?…I read all your blog info. On the last one and it looked amazing.

Maryse August 28, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Ahhhh nothing in NJ from us (we’ll be keeping itin Orlando), but I’m sure there must be some scheduled there. :)

Julie August 28, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Im so glad I popped in here. So happy to here there could be spin-off. *crossing fingers* But honestly I think you could do a whole new list for what to read after Arsen. This book was flipping amazing! Im totally into the angsty reads right now. But I have to take a break in between and read something light and funny or action-packed. This book will have me reeling for a few days. As always your review was spot on. Great recommendation.

Jean August 29, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Just finished last night….WOW! Came back here to read your review (which I had skipped) and I totally agree with it all of it…..the Epilogue…again WOW! That made my head spin a little. Still thinking about the book today so it obviously has affected me. Think I need to read Strings now for some fun and raunchiness – - haha!!

Marina August 30, 2013 at 8:51 AM

I just finished and also came back to finally read the review and I felt exactly the same way about the first half, but the second. Woah. Crazy. I loved Ben and this one was rough because of that. I think I need to visit the discussion group!

Nancy August 31, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Cannot stop thinking about it. I am having that dreaded book hangover you spoke of…… how will i find the next book to compete with this story? Keep reviewing books….. I’m addicted to your blog…..

Megan September 1, 2013 at 8:20 AM

First time I have responded to a bog site, but I have to say that I bought Arsen based on the site – and was not disappointed. It was full of angst and like Maryse says, the epilogue answered questions I had. I thoroughly recommend it to readers who enjoy ménage a trios – frustrating and mostly sad, because someone has to lose in the end, and as a reader, your sympathies are constantly vacillating from one character to the next. Calthough it left me feeling desperately saddened, it was the right conclusion, the only conclusion…

Jacque September 2, 2013 at 5:45 PM

I didn’t want to read this book! I read your review and others and just thought noooo, not my thing, but then you went and gave it 5 stars. So I picked it up and put it down once or twice kind of slow for me in the beginning and wow, just wow! I couldn’t put it down, read while cooking(burning) dinner, read while kind of folding clothes. You never disappoint Maryse, I will never doubt your 5 star rating again. Loved this book.

jen September 3, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Maryse’s review of Arsen was right on! I always reference your site for book recommendations with angst but I’ve never posted a comment. You deserve a big kudos for your work! You just earned another loyal follower. Thanks, Maryse!

Isadora September 4, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Ok, I am probably the only one that didn’t get this book….I felt like I was watching the story unfold in front of me, but couldn’t feel it. I am not sure why, maybe the writing style? I don’t know.
I read it in 4 days, and found myself not wanting to go back and pick up the book…I was waiting for the big moment you said you were crying, and sobbing.. (I love when that happens!), but then the end came…and I almost laugh, I couldn’t believe it. I totally didn’t get it.
This is the first review from you Maryse that I just couldn’t agree with.

Amy September 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Isadora, I don’t know about everyone else but…

*slight spoiler ALERT*

I was crying during the scene of their last night together, and I was crying for Ben. He was the one who was going to be devastated and didn’t deserve any of it. :( :(

Maryse September 4, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Me too, Amy. Exactly. And for Ben from start to finish.

And the scene the next day… and then at the coffee shop… The writing was so real and intense. The reactions, the yelling, the names… the pain… all of it seemed EXACTLY how it would be, and play out, in real life.

Amy September 4, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Oh crap!! I wrote that out like I was in the spoiler forum, and I am one of the biggest haters of spoilers without warnings. You should edit my post a bit. Seriously. I don’t want to mess the story up for others!

The next day scene was just…ugh. That was a palpable pain. And when he said he was scared. Holy crap. I’m still feeling that book.

Jenn D September 12, 2013 at 9:45 PM

OMG!! I just finished reading Arsen and my chest is physically tight, I feel agitated and sad. It was so excellently written that I feel like I lived it! Like I could physically feel all the emotions that were spilling out on the pages. I’ve never been in a situation like Cathy’s but this book made me feel as if I had-like I was living through it with her and Ben. I can’t decide if I want to passionately kiss my husband good night or sleep with my back to him. My emotions are all over the place after finishing this book! Crazy good writing when you can suck us in like that and make us FEEL!!!!

Shauntee Henry October 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM

I LOVED THIS BOOK!! I was crying so hard that I had to put it down and take a breather. I just can’t believe everything that I felt reading this book. I haven’t wanted to re-read a book since I read BD. It got me that bad. I was cheering for Ben the whole time. My biggest sob moment was the coffee shop scene and Ben’s words to his loving wife. I felt for him that all I could do is cry. I loved it, loved it, loved it. That is all I can say.

Antonella December 19, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Wow, I feel so twisted over this book. It is well written which is what kept me going, as at the beginning I didn’t get Arsen and why anyone would be interested in a self absorbed cocky lover boy. And I just couldn’t relate to what Cathy was doing to her husband. But it sucked me in and I went with the roller coaster and what a ride. I felt for all these characters and waking up today I’m still thinking about the book – so it definitely hit the mark in the end.

Regan March 28, 2014 at 8:32 PM

In total agreement about 2/3 stars at first vs 5 stars at the end. It really was like 2 totally different books. Glad you stuck with it, though, because I wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t read your recommendation. And it was the best gut wrencher I’ve read in a while. Like Kiera/Kellen/Denny on steroids… and with worse consequences & a different ending :)

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