In Robinson’s debut thriller, a love potion helps a Georgia woman snare the man of her dreams, but its side effects prove to be dangerous—for both of them.
Tracy Raymond is obsessed with Jake Benjamin, the lead singer of the popular rock band Half Washed. She believes that it’s “true love,” but reciprocation from Jake, who doesn’t even know her, seems unattainable. So her friends Janie Smith and AJ Nixon suggest that she buy a love potion from a local woman named Madam Zelle, whom AJ describes as a “Gypsy.” It turns out that the potion costs $10,000 a bottle, but Tracy is so desperate to win Jake over that she buys one. AJ scores Tracy an invite to a concert after-party, where she slips the potion into one of Jake’s drinks. It works, and their night of passion is followed by days of love and romance. However, when Jake becomes physically ill, Tracy realizes that it’s a side effect of the potion—one that appears to be remedied by additional doses. Unfortunately, his drug-induced love slowly turns into paranoia and possessiveness. As Tracy gives him more of the potion, his behavior deteriorates further into aggression and outright physical abuse. Although she fears that Jake will leave her if he stops taking the concoction, the consequences of continuing could be much worse. Robinson’s book lacks sympathetic characters; Tracy is undeniably obsessive, and Janie and AJ enable her by helping her to secretly drug a celebrity. That said, Robinson deftly handles a number of serious topics in this thriller, including domestic abuse; Tracy’s need for Jake’s love is effectively shown to be akin to a drug addiction, particularly when she starts spending far too much money on additional, costlier bottles of the potion. The descriptions are adequate but occasionally too skeletal; at one point, for instance, Tracy runs into three co-workers on the street, and readers learn nothing about them aside from their names. The ending is, perhaps unsurprisingly, brutal and violent, but it also provides a denouement that won’t be easily forgotten.
An absorbing, thought-provoking tale of the dark side of romance despite generally unlikable characters.