Beyond the Limit by Cindy Dees
Genre: Military Romance
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Formats: eBook ($6), Paperback ($7)
I was really excited by the blurb for Beyond the Limit. A SEAL team is tasked with training women to prepare for becoming the first Navy SEALs—something that platoon leader Griffin Caldwell doesn’t believe is possible, and something that Navy media officer Sherri Tate believes she can prove.
The hero was obnoxious about women in the first chapter, but I let it slide. Second chapter, let it slide. But when it takes 15 of the 25 chapters for Griffin to show some sign of change that is never truly achieved? Unforgivable.
I was torn on whether Beyond the Limit was a 1-star, 1.5-star, or 2-star read for me. After a couple of days of reflection, I decided that it’s a 1.5-star book. There is so much more bad to discuss than good.
For me, the good started around 60% through the book, when Sherri moves on to training that does not include Griffin being involved much in the story anymore. Sherri is a much better character without Griffin involved. Unfortunately, the only good and interesting part of the story is over within 10 chapters (around 90% into the book), leaving the reader to suffer through the end.
It takes a lot for me to have such a viscerally negative reaction to a book, as I’m happy to roll with most plots as long as I feel that the author justified them, structured them well, and crafted relatable (even if they’re not likeable) characters. Griffin is a terrible character. His attitude toward women is ridiculously sexist—something you can see in him even through the final pages. It was frustrating to read chapter after chapter of Griffin’s BS.
I normally highlight and note a few things in books to refer back to in my reviews. A few, as in, less than 10 notes of major things I noticed in the writing or some commentary on my mind. In Beyond the Limit, I had 104 notes. A handful of these notes were lines that I noted as breakthroughs in Sherri’s progression as a character. Another few notes were highlighting the main character names and changes in location. But the vast majority of the notes highlighted areas where Griffin was being a jerk, whether in general or through sexist commentary. I had so many attached comments of “ugh,” “meh,” “WTF??,” and expletives I won’t print in a review that my Kindle notebook is painted in a rainbow of my frustration.
Ultimately, it was Griffin’s terrible characterization that ruined the story for me. The plot regarding the first female SEALs is quite topical, but Griffin drains any enjoyment of it. The good part of the plot only comes once he’s temporarily on the back-burner and Sherri gets to shine.
Even though one of my major interests in Beyond the Limit was the story being a romance—it would have been much better with no romance. Its unsatisfying HFN conclusion, that doesn’t even wrap-up Sherri’s story arc, seems to agree with that sentiment.
I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.