Book Review

Hunt the Dawn by Abbie Roads

Sometimes I can only take so much crazysauce and wtfery before I have to tap out. I know, I know, you good folks rely on me to read this shit so you don’t have to, but even I have my limits. I DNF’d Hunt the Dawn, but I did get far enough to share some prime F+ moments with you.

Hunt the Dawn is a romantic suspense novel featuring Lathaniel (yes, yes, that is his actual name) Montgomery, a man who can smell peoples’ memories.

I’m going to pause and let you soak that in. Lathan can smell peoples’ memories.

Smell. Their. Memories.

You see, Lathan had some kind of tragic event happen in his life (I didn’t get far enough to learn what it was) that left him partially deaf but also with an extremely heightened sense of smell. And by extremely heightened I don’t mean identifying all the ingredients in a boiling soup. I mean he can smell emotions, and yes, memories. In fact, when he smells a memory, he relives it–a scent memory or “SM.” As a result, it’s hard for him to be around people.

Oh, and when he’s in the midst of a SM, his eye rolls around in his head uncontrollably.

The left one. In case you were wondering.

So. Yeah.

Anyway. Lathan does what anyone with the ability to smell memories amid uncontrollable eye movements would do. He helps the FBI solve murders. He is specifically on the hunt for a serial killer named The Strategist.

Am I the only one who thinks we need to stop giving serial killers cool names? What about giving them dumb names, thereby removing any sense of power or importance from these guys? Instead of “The Strategist” why not “The Guy Who Shits His Pants On The Regular.” Yeah, it takes awhile to get out, but I think it sets the right tone.

Anyway, Lathan goes to some profiling seminar but he can’t make it through the event because the ASL translator is sending him some seriously pornographic SMs:

“I should go.” Her voice lacked as much conviction as her will.

“Baby, come back to bed, just for a little while.” Cara threw back the covers. She’d strapped Big Johnnie around her waist. He pointed proudly perpendicular.

She glanced at the bedside clock. She was going to be late. It’d be worth it.

The SM continued to play in front of his left eye. His right eye focused on Dr. Jonah. Lathan pressed his left eye closed with his fingers to block out the images, but they projected on the back of his eyelid. Hard to lose focus on reality. Disorienting as hell. Don’t lose control.

I need to break this down just for my own sanity and understanding: Lathan apparently smelled the interpreter’s memory of having hot sex that morning and then saw it projected on his eyelid.

But just the left one.

Jessia Williams from the Daily Show is wearing an expression that clearly reads "WTF"

Right. (Or left?) So he flees the seminar because of the strap-on memories invading his brain–sorry, left eyeball–and then we cut to:

Evanee Brown, waitress at a knock-off Hooters. Evanee has just gotten done with work, which sucked, and thinks to herself:

The hardest part of the day wasn’t the eight hours in heels. It was this moment, when she had time to remember her belly flop off the cliff of comfort into the cesspool of white trash. From a safe, easy life to this truck-stop waitress existence. From trendy apartment to living behind Sweet Buns at Morty’s Motor Lodge. From privacy to sharing a room with Brittany, the town whore. From profound ignorance to the realization that everything good she used to have came from being a whore, too.

Jesus H Christ.

A kitten hangs from a tree branch. The words "Hang in There" appear above him.

So Evanee’s roommate is with a client and Evanee decides to go sleep in her car for awhile. Except she’s accosted by a man named Junior who is also her former rapist. They get into a struggle and Lathan happens to come by on his motorcycle and kicks the shit out of Junior and saves Evanee.

He also notice that he gets no SMs from her:

He didn’t believe in God, but maybe, just maybe she was created for him. An Eve to  his Adam.

Incidentally he thinks this like ten seconds after saving her from her rapist who HE KNOWS is her rapist because gets a scent memory from Junior.

Britney Spears squinting in confusion

So he takes Evanee back to his cabin where she falls asleep, exhausted, on his couch. When she dreams she goes to a place she calls The White Place, “an endless plateau of white.”  Apparently she’s had these dreams before. But then she sees a little girl:

She could only see the side of the girl’s face, but that was enough to see her beauty. She was the kind of child women were jealous of because they knew how stunning she’d be when she matured.


I have a lot of thoughts when I look at kids, namely “why so sticky?”, “thank god I don’t have one” and “is she going to bite me?” but I’ve NEVER been pissed at kid because I thought she might grow up to be pretty.

You know, Evanee has some serious internalized misogyny going on. She needs to do some reading and maybe talk therapy.

But don’t worry, when the little girl turns her head, her face is ravaged and she’s missing an eye and Evanee freaks out and wakes up.

Lathan comes to see what’s the matter only to FIND EVANEE HOLDING A FUCKING EYEBALL IN HER HAND.

Like, she went to sleep, dreamed about a kid missing an eye, and WOKE UP HOLDING THAT EYE.

A man stands against a background of stars in the night sky. He touches his forehead and an explosion eminates from his head, not unlike the one I experienced reading the eyeball thing.

Everyone freaks the fuck out. Lathan thinks:

He had questions and not one answer. What was her name? Why didn’t he get SMs from her? Why was he able to touch her? Where the fuck did she get a human eyeball?


Like “Where the fuck did you get a human eyeball” should ALWAYS be the first question. And you know what, I bet the fucking answer is Amazon.

So then Evanee starts vomiting blood–but not her own apparently. She’s like able to conjure other people’s awful body parts or something. Man, she’d be the shittiest birthday clown ever.

Lathan is able to comfort her:

Heat spread up her arms to her shoulders, across her chest to her heart, then pumped outward to her extremities.  His hands were twin IVs of feel-good plugged directly into her veins.

Note: If anyone offers you an IV of “feel-good,” they are not an actual medical doctor, okay?

Lathan’s FBI buddy shows up and is understandably concerned by the woman vomiting blood and holding a human eye. He’s there to ask Lathan for his help solving a case where a little girl is murdered and DUN DUN DUN she’s missing an eye.

(On a side note, I really, really want this to be a movie starring Tom Cruise. He’s so lacking in self awareness that I think he could really lend gravitas to the “smelling the strap-on memory” scene.)

Honestly, I felt bad for FBI guy. He’s just trying to do his job and he walks into the blood-vomit, scent memory WTF emporium.

And that’s where I stopped. Once Evanee started randomly generating other people’s body parts, I noped the fuck out. I rubbed my face for a little bit, and then I went and ate some Christmas chocolate and didn’t talk to anyone for awhile.

If you have the stamina to finish this book, by all means, let me know if it gets better. I can only handle so much.

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Hunt the Dawn by Abbie Roads

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  1. 1
    Helena says:

    After a really stressful weekend, I’m extremely appreciative of the giggle-fest this just gave me. Thank you. And ““Where the fuck did you get a human eyeball” should ALWAYS be the first question.” is going to be my new Quote of Wisdom.

  2. 2
    BellaInAus says:

    But… does he really have feathers tattooed on his face?

  3. 3
    Willa says:

    They should have inserted a gif into his eye on the cover – so it rolls uncontrollably

    I *tried* to read the first book in this series and DNF’d around page 60. Totally bizarre and senseless. Nice to see this one continues the trend!

  4. 4
    Happy Anonymous Day! says:

    Sounds consistent with Race the Darkness. I had to practice self-care and quit reading at 25%.

    That guy got struck by lightning, giving him truthy mind-reading superpowers (which, as I recall, also don’t work in the case of Twu Wuv), and the woman (girl? I dunno, the age difference was kind of hazy and I didn’t get far enough to see if any light was shed on the timeline) had white hair and was known in certain circles as The Dragon (ahem).

    There was something about serial rapists and serial killers and rescuing Daenarys from captivity, but because that’s not enough conflict to keep the course of Twu Wuv from running smooth, the Big Mis is that Sparky’s dad was married to Daenarys’s mom so long ago Daenarys doesn’t remember, and when he’s explaining the family dynamics to her, he suddenly forgets how to prefix words with “step,” so she thinks she’s having pants feelings for her biological brother instead of a nonrelative she briefly shared a house with when she was a toddler.

    I love when relationship conflict is based entirely on the absence of one syllable in the first couple of chapters! That’s a super way to sustain dramatic tension for 300 pages!

    I’m not blaming it all on Sparky. Yes, he had to jump through some flaming linguistic hoops on a motorcycle in order to create ambiguity, but Daenarys listened to this verbal circus and took all the time to sink into brother-lusting despair but couldn’t spare two seconds to critique his convoluted delivery.

    “You could have trimmed that monologue down to ‘we’re siblings.'”

    “What? No! Sorry, I have a congenital communication disorder that you don’t share because we don’t have any of the same DNA.”

    “Oh. Then we can have sex?”

    “Yes, let’s. After, we’ll work on putting you on the Iron Throne… I mean catching the bad guys who want to kill you.”

    A moment of silence in honor of DNF’d books that have the decency to pack their shit and leave my memory when it’s over.

  5. 5
    Sandra says:

    I couldn’t get past the author’s name. At least the hero wasn’t named John Paul Ringo George.

  6. 6
    Jillian Boyd says:

    …. I… I need to go lie down for a while.

  7. 7
    jimthered says:

    Sounds like this book earned all the “Nope” cards from the game EXPLODING KITTENS.

  8. 8
    Todd says:

    BOTH my eyes are rolling at this.

  9. 9
    Brandi says:

    I think I need Elyse to narrate everything in my life, just so I can laugh instead of being WTF NOPE FOREVER. Also, as a Deaf person, I can honestly say that the only memories I’ve ever gotten from an ASL interpreter are the ones that involve being excruciatingly bored in school. Maybe I would have paid more attention if there had been strap-ons involved?

  10. 10
    Kim says:

    Loved this! Like

    “Where the fuck did you get a human eyeball” should ALWAYS be the first question. And you know what, I bet the fucking answer is Amazon.’

    Of course it’s on Amazon! That cracked me up. Thank you. My Monday morning pick-me-up. Better than coffee. 🙂

  11. 11

    I laughed out loud in line at the bank reading this, so thank you for that! Great review!

  12. 12
    LauraL says:

    Phew! Glad I missed that one. A friend of mine complained yesterday about the funky smells at his gym. I’ll have to tell him he should be happy he doesn’t have scent memory as his superpower!

    Elyse, thanks once again for taking one for the team. And, seriously, good point on the serial killer names.

  13. 13
    DonnaMarie says:

    This totally beats the DNF I chucked this morning. The review of that one is going to consist mostly of counting the number of times to the female lead mentions how she’ll never risk her heart again.

    At least once. Every. Single. Page.

    Followed by a tally of how many times he states that he’s not looking for a relationship.

    This was MUCH more fun. Thanks.

  14. 14
    Betsysalt says:

    Thank you Elyse for the giggles!

  15. 15
    JenM says:

    Holy Sh*t! I’m totally squicked out about eyeballs anyway, and now I get to picture a girl waking up from a dream and holding one. Honestly, I can’t even. However, this part of the review:

    “Where the fuck did you get a human eyeball” should ALWAYS be the first question. And you know what, I bet the fucking answer is Amazon.”

    made it all better. Thanks Elyse, for my Monday morning coffee snort.

  16. 16
    M & M says:

    Can we just discuss why the strap-on has a name? Big Johnnie?? Really???
    Is naming a strap-on really a thing? Well, now I feel unworldly if this is common practice.

  17. 17
    Gloriamarie says:

    SB Elyse, you are one courageously brave woman. Not only did you subject yourself to this WTFery, you forced yourself to relive it so you could warn us off.

    My prayer for you is that this exercise does not induce PTSD in you.

  18. 18
    The Other Kate says:

    The author lost me at “he pointed proudly perpendicular.”

    Anyone want to volunteer to read this turd in its entirety? It might be the WTF-iest F+ of all!

  19. 19
    Liza S says:

    I guess my biggest question is YOU STILL HAVE CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATE??? Either you had a shit-ton to start with or you have way more self-discipline than I do.

    @The Other Kate, nope, not volunteering to read the full. Elyse’s wtf nope-ness is enough nope for me. 🙂

  20. 20

    Thank you for this. It made my case of the Mondays much better (not completely–if you could transmit some Christmas chocolate through the computer, though…)

    @M & M, I vaguely remember a Rachel Gibson book from about a decade ago in which the heroine named her vibrator Carlos and I believe she even called out its name mid-orgasm with the hero.

  21. 21
    Francesca says:

    What about Steely Dan III from Yokohama, the strap-on from Naked Lunch that gave its name to one of the greatest bands of all time?

  22. 22
    Jill says:

    I have so many questions. Questions that obviously no one will be able to answer because none among us are brave enough to finish this book, but need to be asked anyways. Questions like:
    1) If smells are such a problem, then why does Lathan not douse himself in cologne, carry a pomander, or as my boyfriend so helpfully suggested as I ranted this at him, carry some vicks vaporub to put under his nose? Anything to disrupt his smell pathway so that he couldn’t smell others!

    2) How is this lecture/classroom set up if he’s more distracted from smelling the memory of the presenter almost being late because she was getting it good from her girlfriend with ‘Big Johnnie’ rather than say, the memory of the road rage experienced by the guy sitting on his left?

    3) That being said, can he smell his own memories? Can’t he just center himself on his own memory scents and ignore others? Sounds like he might want to practice some mindfulness techniques.

    4)How does he know that the blood that Evanee barfs up isn’t hers? Does he have a crime scene lab of his own in his capacity as human K-9 Unit that he used once obtaining samples? Can he smell the memories in the blood and immediately know that it’s not Evanee’s because he can’t smell her memories?

    There are more, they will go unanswered, if someone does finish this, please do not hesitate to contact the Pink Palace at once.

  23. 23
    M & M says:

    @Scifigirl1986: I’ve read a few Rachel Gibson books but I don’t remember “Carlos”. I’m going to have to track this book down!

    @Francesca: Whaaat?! Excuse me, I have some googling to do…. 🙂

  24. 24
    Alyssa says:

    Damn, I was curious enough to read this book but not if I have to pay 4 dollars for it. How is this schlock not 99 cents?

  25. 25
    Kat Faitour says:

    Elyse, you are a goddamn national treasure.

  26. 26
    TresGrumpy says:

    I mean all other issues aside… why do so many people think that women who have sex with women PINE FOR THE D??? Like…… why is ….. why did the author have to make her weird and gross “lesbian” inclusion so straight? BIG JOHNNIE????

  27. 27
    karen says:

    Damn. Now I gotta stream some Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.

  28. 28
    kkw says:

    Why so sticky, indeed.

  29. 29
    Nancy House says:

    oh, ohh, ohh, that laugh felt good!! Thanks so much Elyse, I hope you don’t have to wait til heaven for your karmic reward–it will be yuuge;)

  30. 30
    Nemo says:

    ““smelling the strap-on memory” scene”

    That took my head to some weird places. It depends on where you put the pause it can either be the smelling of the memory or the memory of the smelling.

  31. 31
    Anne Gaston says:

    I’m just gonna put this out there–

    If anyone wants to gift the book to me, I’ll read it through to the end and give a full review. There’s so much WTF-ery that I’d actually like to know what happens. And, if there are sex scenes, how weird those get.

    Really, I’d just like a WTF sex scene to be able to talk about using all of the punctuation marks.

  32. 32
    Kristen says:

    “So then Evanee starts vomiting blood–but not her own apparently.”

    Really, thirty-one comments and nobody has mentioned This is Spinal Tap yet?

  33. 33
    Jodi says:

    Should I be frightened that I missed that the interpreter was a woman and assumed Lathan was getting a “scent memory” of pegging?

  34. 34
    Carol says:

    Thanks, Elyse. You more than did your job here. And I really want to agree with you about serial killer names. The one you offer is fine; it’s easily shortened to “Shit Pants”.

  35. 35
    Dietz123 says:

    Well done review, Elyse. Personally, I can suspend disbelief to an astounding degree. But it sounds like the characters not only lack class, but can’t even spell it.

  36. 36

    I was literally crying with laughter on the bus just now. I think everyone was staring at me.

    I oddly really admire the imagination of a writer who can come up with this much WTF. It’s like the mermaid stripper commandos book, or the one with the green space princess.

  37. 37
    Noelinya says:

    I read this book (entirely s I can’t DNF, always hoping things will get better), and it has a lot of WTF.

    Show Spoiler

    We learn that the heroine has been abused from childhood by Junior, the son of her mother’s new husband, who also wants to marry her now. The white place she sees in dreams is the place in her head where she went while Junior was raping her.

    We learn that the hero had always had this smell power, her mother thought he was crazy and had him committed in psychiatric wards most of his childhood, and once another patient stabbed him in the ear with a pen, so he’s near deaf. He also has a kind of power when touching someone skin but I didn’t really understand it.
    Oh, and he’s a virgin (but that won’t be a problem with the heroine of course!!)

    There’s a plot about a mythological tale where the characters are reincarnated in this couple and in the couple of the previous novel, and that’s why the H/h are so immediately and totally attracted to each other and behave hysterically when they are separated.

    And of course there’s the plot with the serial killer. He becomes obsessed with the heroine, of course. When Junior comes to the hero’s house, almost kills him and the heroine, the SK kills Junior, changes the scene to make it seems she killed both men, and kidnaps her. He tends to her wounds, makes her believe the hero is dead, and she begins to trust him. But the hero realizes who he is with his scent (I think he works at the lab and kills to learn how to arrest other SK more easily…), so they come to save her and kill the SK.

    Oh, and when the heroine puts her hand on the hero’s left cheek, he can hear normally (but it’s not really an easy position to maintain).
    And of course the H/h marry in the end, after going to the SK’s funeral.

  38. 38
    kitkat9000 says:

    @Noelinya: How in God’s name did you get through this? I loved Elyse’s review, but seriously doubt I could have gotten as far as she did. That you managed to finish this kinda blows my mind. Thanks for the synopsis- you’ve saved others from both lost time and pain.

  39. 39
    Heather T says:


  40. 40
    DonnaMarie says:

    @Noelinya, now I’m confused about why he needs an ASL interpreter. He got stabbed in the left ear. Last time I checked, we have two ears. Did it go in one ear and out the other?

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