Friday, May 28, 2010

Strange Bedfellows by The Bouquet

Strange Bedfellows

The Bouquet




As Edward Masen uncovers the details of the incident that took Chief Swan's beautiful daughter Bella away from him, he soon begins to wonder why the weirdly perfect Cullen family seems too involved for coincidence.


I sat, wondering how best to recommend a story for the Perv Pack’s Smut Shack when there is no smut at all involved. Then I realized, it really doesn’t matter at all that there is no sex in the story, because Strange Bedfellows (even the name is provocative!) is strong enough, funny enough, compelling enough, and mysterious enough to stand on its own. That’s right. I’m saying this story will suck you in, twist you up, and they haven’t even kissed yet.

To begin with, the bouquet introduces a typical seventeen-year-old boy. Well, he’s not entirely typical, because he isn’t focused on sex at all… well, much. This Edward is swoon-worthy, though, because he is gentle, kind, and full of regular flaws. He plays the piano, he wants to go out for the track team, he may possibly suffer from epilepsy, and he’s in love with Bella’s photograph.

Up until that moment, Charlie Swan's daughter was more of a concept than a person. She existed only as a blank spot in the life of a man I didn't really know. All that changed when I saw her picture and heard her name. The blue of her dress brought out roses in her cheeks, and the California sun sparkled in her chocolate brown eyes. Suddenly, I hungered to know everything there was to know about her, including what happened to cause her father such pain.

The Cullens and Hales are present in school, but Bella is not. As you might expect, rumors and mystery surround the perfect students, and Edward finds that he is drawn to them, rather than repelled. Beyond the striking good looks, the creepy eyes, and the startling ability to know exactly what Edward is thinking, the Cullens and Hales seem to have inside knowledge on what exactly happened to Bella. However hard he tries, he can’t quite piece together the puzzle that’s before him. All he knows is that Bella is in a hospital, the kid that ran over her disappeared, and the Cullens and Hales are the only ones that won’t talk about it.

In a real city, you just start living and you don't worry about what happened before you got there. Here, it's like someone dropped me in the middle of a book, and I don't know what happened in the first half.

The bouquet has an amazing touch with her dialogue, and the narration has beautiful moments of poetry without being flowery and overdone. She introduces the mystery, weaves in the clues deftly, and then sits back to grin as it dawns on the reader. Just when I thought I had it all figured out- what I hoped for, what I truly desired to read- the bouquet then pulled a thread, and a new mystery that had run through the first half of the story, but quietly and below the radar, jumps to the forefront and we’re off again down a twisting path at a breathless pace.

Never once does the bouquet falter in her voice, which is hard to do with a teenage boy. The conversations are believable; the situations seem familiar. The bouquet has a gentle sarcasm that brings smiles, but never casts the characters in an unsavory light. And let me assure you, even without the promise of sex between Edward and Bella, there is still a longing- a burning. As his heart overflows with love for the mysterious Bella, so will your heart overflow for this flawed hero. I can promise that you will sigh and whimper; your pulse will race over some of the loveliest lines in all of fanfiction. What talent it takes to craft a story that holds readers rapt in a fandom that loves its smut, and never do the lips of our hero and heroine meet!

Strange Bedfellows is now, and will always remain, one of my favorite stories. I wish I could tell you more, but the mystery is the very best part.

I first read this story when I was Indie (check out their website - TONS of fabbio stories abound) validating. It just blew me away - immediately. Do you know when you read a story and you literally get a chill from just how amazing it is? That you immediately become obsessed with? That was me and Strange Bedfellows. Bri - had previously been raving about the story, but I didn't realise until after I had read it that they were the same story.

So to make you realise just how amazing this story is, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we here at the shack - have decided to recc a T fated fic this week. Yup. NO M story. That is JUST HOW GOOD THIS STORY IS! (Pls be remembering that the last time we did this it was for Swirl & Daisy - you all know how loved that is!)

So no sex. Some of you might be thinking. Why is it so ruddy good then?

EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING about this fic is what makes it so good.

Story? Yes! Its an AU story, but.... The fact that Edward is a human. That its just him and his fartbagvagina(I used it again just for you Hopey <3)>

The fact that the Cullens are not this cozy family of pretend humans, who have learned to temper their vamp tendencies that we are used to in canon. How could they be, when their mind reading son is not a vamp or part of their family? How would they have learned when others are suspect and wary of their specialness without his gift? Which of course sets me off thinking about what else would be different - without Edward as a Cullen..... Gah its soooo addictive. But back to the Cullens. They are creepy. Eerie, sinister even. Its fabulous reading.

Ok. What else?

LOTS. The characterisations?

Just brilliant.

I mentioned the storyline with the Cullens. I LOVE her characterisation of Emmett in particular, Alice for not being a bouncy shop-a-holic, and one particular scene between Edward & Esme - PWNS my arse! And Charlie - just love him in this fic (Nina & I were discussing this earlier) - he is how Charlie would be in canon, if his daughter was in a coma instead of the chasing after a vamp as she does as book Bella. Yes you read that right. Bella, we learn alongside Edward, is in a coma in a private hospital. Charlie is heartbroken, and so is Edward - although Edward doesn't really know why..... . . . . .

Edward's characterisation is just brilliant. He's a proper teenage boy, adjusting to life without his mum, struggling to get on with his dominating twat of a father. Struggling to fit into a small town, when he doesn't know where he belongs. HE KNOWS something is not right with the Cullens, and he initially does his best to stay away from them, but he unravels information that means he cannot leave the situation alone. Edward is lonely in this fic. Missing his mother, his old life in Chicago, his purpose and his motivation. What could possibly change things for him?

I seriously cannot recc this fic enough. The writing is just stupendously good. The storyline is just fabulous. Captivating, creative and takes my breath away. I am in love with her Edward, and I so want him to be a happy bunny, as he's not a happy boy, he lost all his happiness. What or who will help slowly return it to him? Please, if you trust me but at all, read this fic.

5 returned flashlights (torches for any fellow brits) out of 5 from me.

My review is gonna be really short. Don't take the shortness for lack of love, because I abso LOVE this story all kinds of hard. It's just that by now you might have gotten the vibe that there is a mystery going on. Well, there is and really it would completely spoil everything if even one little itty bitty detail was leaked.

So, I'm not gonna say much about the actual plotline except that Edward and Edward Sr. are new to Forks. Moving from Chicago after the death of Elizabeth. Both men are still grieving and Edward Sr. thinks a fresh start is needed.

Edward takes an immediate liking to Chief Swan, who is the opposite of his father. Not that Edward Sr is all bad, he just wants what's best Edward or what he thinks is best for Edward. It's out of love that he does what he does.

Now Edward falls in love with a picture of the lovely Bella that he sees in Charlies house. Yes, you read that right, he falls in love with her by only seeing her picture. It's intense and almost other worldly.

And that's all you're getting from me in regards to plot. Read for yourself to uncover what may or may not be going on with Edward, Bella and the Cullens. Trust me, it's well worth the read.

Now I really do love this characterization of Edward. He's just such a guy. A typical teenage guy. I think The Bouquet nailed what it is to be a teenage boy. He's awkward and funny and self-depreciating and confident when needed and competitive and earnest and a little bit lost and just fucking lovely.

It's the characterization of Edward combined with an original twist on Canon that makes Strange Bedfellows so fucking good. It's a quick read, I read it in about 5 hours and I read really effin' slow.

5 out of 5 flashlights from moi.

The key to a great mystery is using what the reader knows (or think they know) against them. That is also the key to writing a great AU fic. We all know canon like the back of our hand, but when we travel into an alternate universe that knowledge cannot help us, and sometimes, as is the case with this story, it trips us up.

Strange Bedfellows starts with a Human Edward Masen who has just moved to Forks and finds himself in the middle of a mystery involving the police chief's daughter Bella Swan, and the enigmatic Cullens. That is all the details of the story I will give you, because you need to read it for yourself to really appreciate the depth and details that the bouquet put into this story.

Stories like this are the reason I read AU fan fiction. There is no other way I could see these characters, completely IN character and in the same world, but in a completely different context. This is still the story we know, and yet it is NOTHING like the story of Twilight.

Edward is a curious, obsessed, heartbroken young man who searches for meaning in a mystery as a way of escaping the real life stress and tragedy in his past. He is human, he is actually 17 and he yet he is still Edward, through and through. I love seeing this story through his POV, and how very little is explained to us. Instead we are shown in subtle ways. So much of who Edward is and how he became this way is revealed to us naturally as we see him interact with his father and new friends.

I'm being vague, I know. There's a reason, and to find out you need to just read this story. I do not want to ruin your chance at experiencing, first hand, one of my new all time favorite fan fics. This one is in the top ten.

For get what you know or you think you know. Find a quiet corner, get comfortable and be ready to be spellbound by Strange Bedfellows.

I give it 5 out of 5 flashlights

Every now and then, you run across a story that shifts the center of your own personal Twi universe. The cool thing about that, is that for nearly everyone, the name of that story differs, but its effect is the same. For me, Strange Bedfellows is one of those stories.

I already swore my eternal allegiance to The Bouquet. I may *cough* have sworn to marry her and bear her babies. I'm also fairly certain I promised to lick her up and down. Yes, dammit, I loved this story that much!!

In a lovely twist on canon, Strange Bedfellows is about a teenager named Edward Masen, Jr., who relocates to Forks, Washington (AKA purgatory in Edward lexicon) from Chicago in the middle of the school year to "start over" after his mother died the previous November. He moves with Edward Masen, Sr., who is definitely not up for Father-of-the-Year for 2006 (the year this story takes place). To say Edward Sr. is an insensitive, selfish jerk is actually being kind of nice. Every interaction the Edwards have with each other is rife with sarcasm and typical teen rebellion.

Edward Jr.'s mouth gets him into a lot of trouble on a regular basis, at least with his father. His internal monologue is gorgeous, filled with snarkity gems of goodness. A delicious example occurs when he first meets Jessica Stanley:

...Unfortunately, Jessica Stanley didn't need another participant in order to have a conversation...

We've all experienced individuals who just can't shut up, but this particular comment made me giggle like a schoolgirl, because it is cut from the fabric of universal truth. His snark doesn't exactly endear him to the popular kids, and Edward is constantly battling the political evils of high school--Sit with the popular kids? Sit with the creepy Cullens? Or avoid it all by hanging in the library? His typical choice is the library.

Oh yes, I did mention the creepy Cullens in there, didn't I? Right. You see, the Cullens keep to themselves at school. They have pale skin and amber eyes. And they're all together. Like, together, together. At first, with Emmett as his Biology lab partner, Edward is friendly with the Cullens. Then, for reasons I cannot divulge for the sake of being a spoiler, he avoids them. A quandary everywhere he turns. Are you sensing a theme here? The bouquet weaves the Twilight story into Strange Bedfellows in subtle yet discernible ways.

As if all this snark and high school political intrigue isn't fascinating enough, the story is a mystery of sorts, which slowly unravels before your eyes. You can't wait to get to the next chapter, to uncover another layer of the onion. Nothing is what it appears to be on the surface. I almost felt like it was a version of Twilight meets Twin Peaks (for those of you old enough to remember that David Lynch cult classic). Small Washington town, everyone knows everyone else's business, with a sense of a sordid underbelly of some kind.

There is one character missing from this review, isn't there? Bella Swan. Suffice it to say, Edward falls in love with her the moment he sees her picture. Problem is, Bella is in a coma, and it doesn't look like she's going to recover. For the sake of spoiling the mysterious plot, that's all I will say about our young protagonist and the love of his life.

This story is rated "T," so there are no super juicy lemony moments, but there is some definite UST in the way Edward pines for Bella, and I have a feeling some juicier moments might be in their future. Regardless, I implore you, one and all, to check this story out, because it is a lovely little slice of heaven. You won't be able to put it down.

5 out of 5 Returned Flashlights

I admit the summary of this fic scares the shit out of me. I am that bad when it comes to potential angst/heartfail. So, I waited, and waited and waited some more until I could literally not wait any longer to read it.

God, I'm such an ass.

Seriously, I should know better than to question whether or not these glorious ladies would allow me to read something that would kill my poor wussperv heart. I've heard them go on for weeks about the intrigue and the mystery surrounding Strange Bedfellows. How unbelievable this characterization of Edward is. He's such a wonderful modern twist, while managing to maintain so much of what we love about Meyer's Edward.

He's just moved to Forks with his dad Edward Sr. who I immediately want to junk punch and mount his sac as a hood ornament. Aside from his prickish attitude, he does have Edward's best intentions in mind (I hope). He's a 17 year old kid so he's curious and thrust into a new town, new school and hell. It's Forks so you know something wonky is afoot.

Edward embraces many characteristics of canon Bella in this story. The curious nature, the attitude towards not giving a shit about his self preservation and just how much he wants love. He's one of my favorite Edwards, hands down. I want to hug him, while glaring maniacally at his father.

Then, I want to take Charlie out for dinner and drinks. Seriously. One of the BEST Charlie characterizations ever. I love every single scene he's in even if they break my heart. His and Edward's relationship is so perfect I can't get enough.

The Cullens are also done so, so well. No hokey shopoholic vapid Alice, Rose is a shit but not too bad, Jasper while canon, I imagine him with a better wig and Emmett. It's nice to see a relationship with Edward and Emmett that isn't centered around measuring peens and playing the XBox.

The one thing I'm going to fault The Bouquet for is her description of Carlisle. Really? A blonde Data? I had to ask what that even meant since I didn't know someone's name was Data except in the Goonies. Then I googled Data from Star Trek Wars and JFC um. Hell No!

Hot Carlisle

Not Hot Data

5/5/ I don't care if there isn't any smut.

After reading Strange Bedfellows I realized I don’t read enough T stories. I read them, but not nearly enough. This story was fantastic! So many loops and turns. It took the Twilight book, flipped it upside down and shook out all the really juicy parts and then smashed a really good original story into it.

I’m an AU girl, I can do canon, but very rarely. So human Edward made me all giddy and shit. After reading so many stories where Bella was the new kid at school, reading Edward moving to town and being the new kid was refreshing.

Edward Sr., to me, is a douchebag. I know he’s looking out for Edward and doing what he thinks is right, but no man, just shut the fuck up already. I like him NOT!

(Dying to spill)

God, reading as Edward fell in love with someone he’d only ever seen in a photo and heard stories about, just broke my heart. I rooted for the two of them, but in her state, he was left alone.

(Seriously in pain, keeping my mouth shut)

This whole story sucked me in and I had it read in no time. I didn’t want to come to the most recent update because I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Yeah, sue me, I’m greedy like that. Honestly, I didn’t even register that there was no smut, I didn’t care. I loved it just the way it was.

(Mustn’t spill, mustn’t spill)

Hmm, Bella Italia… um maybe I won’t put my restaurant review in here. I will say it was not of the good. :-(

Since it’s not complete yet, I’m left with some questions, but I have faith that she will answer them in time. Here’s where my review must end before I break down like a crazy person and spill all the juicy secrets… Yeah, I’ve got a big mouth that way. Anyhoodles, the point is— you must read it!

5 returned flashlights

After realizing belatedly (this means about three chapters into the story) that we were reading a T-rated fic this week, I was a little leery. But then I recalled all the wonderful things about the story I had enjoyed just three chapters in and I decided that I should stfu and trust that the PPSS wouldn't steer me in the wrong direction. There are very few fics that can suck me in so quickly.

It's been so long since I've read a truly T-rated fic that I can't even remember the last one I read. So in this moment I'd like to thank the bouquet and the PPSS for initiating me once again with a well-written story.

Strange Bedfellows is mystery and also one of the best twist on canon pieces I've come across. Edward in this story takes the part of canon Bella - a new student in Forks - while Bella remains the mystery. Bella, from what Edward knows, is a patient in Dr. Cullen's hospital after suffering a serious accdent. But even while the reader gains little bits of knowledge here and there, you are still left with questions. Where is the bouquet going with a coma patient and a new guy?

Because Bella is a very secondary character in this fic for the first 4/5 of this story, I'll have to center my review around Edward (and we know how hard that'll be).

Edward in this story is a troubled, directionless, and recently motherless young man. I don't necessarily think the bouquet was doing this intentionally, but I felt like those were some pretty profound traits for him to have. Depending on how you view canon Bella, Edward in this story is a slightly exaggerated version of her. Bella in the canonverse is without any true aspirations and in many ways she's parentless. Edward being so very much a testament to a twist on canon made it feel it feel like the bouquet was making a huge statement on the canonverse. That was one of the many things I loved deeply about the story.

But back to the real important stuff, right? What's Edward in the story really like?

Ladies, here is your answer:

Up until that moment, Charlie Swan's daughter was more of a concept than a person. She existed only as a blank spot in the life of a man I didn't really know. All that changed when I saw her picture and heard her name. The blue of her dress brought out roses in her cheeks, and the California sun sparkled in her chocolate brown eyes. Suddenly, I hungered to know everything there was to know about her, including what happened to cause her father such pain.

Don't you just wish you were that brunette in the dress? Gah!

What I also enjoyed and have a feeling is a result from it being a T-rated fic is that your attraction to Edward in this story has nothing to do with his looks or sexuality. The story is entirely from Edward's POV (there are BPOV outtakes) so you get a one-sided perspective on Edward. You're forced to focus on his personality, his morals, his intelligence rather than his bronze hair and chiseled jaw. You can read the entire story and hardly notice the lack of smut.

The bouquet is writing such an awesome story that you get sucked in and don't care. I know I certainly didn't!

5 out 5 returned flashlights