Light of Hope by S.T. Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was excited to read this book. I am a domestic abuse survivor. I have worked in social services, starting out like Vicki in this book. My first job in social services was with a Welfare to Work program. Like the story, I recognized that domestic violence was a huge factor in being able to complete the program and maintain employment. Things were changing a lot back then. Welfare was changing. Domestic violence laws were changing. I was able to take a 40 hour domestic violence training and domestic violence in the workplace training that led to me being the domestic violence liaison. I worked very hard. Everyone else in the agency I worked at worked very hard. When I read the synopsis for this book I hoped it would be bringing to light many of the obstacles those on welfare looking to work, domestic violence survivors and minimum wage earners continue to face. I hoped that perhaps it would offer ideas on how to help clients. At the very least, I was hoping for a book I could recommend to someone with an interest in social services. Unfortunately, there is no way I can do that. I was insulted by the story which was more about a narcissist social worker and all the ways she jeopardized clients along with the agency she worked for.
It took me awhile to get through this book. I kept trying to give it a chance, hoping somewhere towards the end it would redeem itself. Occasionally the author wrote something brilliant that gave me false hope she was going somewhere. I know we all make mistakes and that workplace romances do happen. I went into this book thinking that perhaps Vikki and her boss Robert did develop a relationship and the author was going to show how they were able to balance work and love. Instead we were fed a boss who took every possible moment to initiate sex with a new employee. Sex in a restaurant parking lot. Sex in a meeting room. Sex in the office. Neither one of them truly worried about helping their clients. They mouthed it. We were told Robert wanted results. (Anyone in social work wants results but they recognize they are working in this field because they care about helping the clients.) Vikki always thought about the clients but then blew them off as easily as Robert blew off her panties. Neither one cared about returning to work on time or attending meetings on time. There was barely even any interactions with any clients except one. A battered woman and her children that Vikki took home and basically abandoned there so she could meet with her boss for a little one on one. I am at a loss as to why they weren't placed in a shelter where professionals could assist them. I am at a loss as to why the woman wasn't attending any type of therapy or receiving legal assistance. I am at a loss as to why the children weren't in counseling to help them sort their feelings with what they witnessed. I am at a loss as to why, for months, this woman did not receive any services from the agency Vikki worked for. Perhaps Vikki needed a housekeeper and cook more than the woman and children needed help.
I did not care for or connect with a single character in this story. As a domestic violence survivor I did not connect at all with the domestic violence story line. As a social worker I was appalled and insulted repeatedly. I realize this is a work of fiction, (I certainly hope it was not based on real life), and perhaps the goal was not to bring to light any of the issues faced in social work or to provide a light of hope. Maybe I find nothing in this book to recommend it because my expectations were too high. In reality, though, I wasn't the least bit entertained by the story. I read erotica and steamy romances sometimes. The sexual escapades were not developed enough to give me room to recommend it to readers of those genres.
I do think the author was trying to write a strong female character and that she was trying to show how domestic violence is still a huge obstacle for many. I think she was trying to show it not only with Nikoleta but also with Vikki and her sister, Lily. I even think she has a story in there that has the potential to be awesome. I would suggest she research domestic violence and options available, read some steamy romance or erotica books with sex in the workplace as a theme, let her female lead have a strong voice and write more showing what was happening rather than telling us everything. Let the characters show us.
Please keep in mind this is only my opinion. I believe every book has an audience. If you are interested in this book, then I invite you to try it.
Thank you to BookTasters and to the author for offering this book for review purposes. All reviews done by me are based on my honest thoughts while reading it and what I thought afterward. I was given an arc ecopy for review purposes. It was not the finished version so I cannot address grammar or spelling issues as they may have changed by publication.
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