The EX Factor: Justified Endings to Bad EXes, by Anderson et al

The Ex Factor
A Book Review from Accentuate Services
By Michelle L Devon

Most of us have had an EX somewhere in our past. Whether it’s an EX best friend, EX lover, or EX spouse, we’ve all had an occasion in which someone left out lives (became an EX), and quite often, not under the best of circumstances. Seeking justice, revenge, and evening the playing field are fantasies we all may have had during those moments of anger after experiencing a loss, a betrayal, a broken promise, or a broken trust, yet most of us only entertain the fantasies in our minds, until time heals the wound to a point where we allow the universe to deal justice as deserved.

However, the nine (9) authors of The Ex Factor have actually taken those fantasies and thoughts of justified endings toward an EX and turned them into reality, if only for a few moments while read on the pages of this book. Here you will find what the publisher has noted: justified endings to bad Exes, and for anyone who has even entertained thoughts of moral, universal accounting for a wrong done them, The Ex Factor will not fail to satisfy.

Separated into three categories: The Hand of Retribution, The Hand of Justice, and the Hand of Fate—you will find in the 304 pages of the Ex Factor anthology, twenty-two (22) different short stories, each spinning their own tale of karma taking a hand in dealing cosmic balancing.

The first story in The Ex Factor anthology is entitled Camp Keller, by author BJ Bourg. Drawing me in from the beginning with an action scene, though the middle, and ending with strong action, this short story definitely leaves the reader with a sense of uneasiness. We learn that, while some people may appear to change, the core of who a person is never leaves them, and when the chips are down, people show their true colors.

The Big Blonde is our second story in The Ex Factor, by Colin Conway, where we are taken through a modern day Mickey Spillane style detective story, clichés and all, as we watch what appears to be a love triangle expand into much more, and concludes with a murder—but just who was killed? This short story concludes with an expected ‘happy’ ending, at least for two of the people in our story, and an unforgettable memory for our hapless detective.

From detectives to dreaming, we move to our next story in the anthology, written by Michy Anderson, who also writes under the penname Michelle L Devon, as we read Dream Walking. With a bit of a supernatural twist, we find our lead character in this short story able to enter others minds, through her dreams, where she is able to uncover her husband’s affair. In the end, we wonder just how the universe decided to deal justice, when we read what happens to all a party of this love triangle.

We all have issues, but in Frank Zafiro’s short story, Core Issue, we realize a couple of things. First, we realize that some situations are not always as they would appear, and secondly, we learn that sometimes the people who appear to have it together the most are really the ones with most ‘issues’.

There is no limit to what a mother might do for her child, as any good mom will tell you, but would you go so far as to commit murder? In Earl Staggs short story, The Waitress, it seems one mother was willing to do just about anything to give her son a better life, and because of this, she ends up the prime suspect to a murder of a prominent attorney. Will the small town Chief of Police she has befriended believe her profession of innocence?

Sandra Seamans writes our next short story, where a backwoods town has a type of justice all its own, where everyone knows everyone else, and justice is served country style. Sometimes living with your own choices is justice served and there’s simply nothing the courts or law could do that would compare to Country Justice.

In A Lover’s Understanding, we take a supernatural walk with author Patricia Harrington into the truth, hidden behind a façade of love, and revealed by a ghost from the past.

Colin Conway returns in this next short story to spin a tale of Loyalty Lost. A change in schedule, a lost Zippo lighter, and the ultimate deception all lead up to Robert making a snap decision to take back his life by taking justice into his own hands. Police officer partners should, after all, be able to completely trust each other, shouldn’t they?

Spousal abuse is often under reported and the perpetrators of this violent crime seldom receive the justice they so rightfully deserve. Many agencies across the country have been created to help battered women escape abusive relationships and rebuild their lives. In Katt Dunsmore’s short story, Victory House is just that type of agency, but with a supernatural twist that gives the abusive ‘toads’ a fitting final sentence.

Some of us dread our High School Reunion and connecting with our past and old friend. In Jill Maser’s story, we take a trip down memory lane with Ron, and learn that sometimes the things we have dreamed about since high school are really better left in the past. For Kent, after a shared lunch with his old high school friend, we watch as he receives his just desserts.

BJ Bourg comes back for another round with his next story in The Ex Factor anthology, Death Notice. In this story, we learn that age makes no difference to love, jealousy, and revenge. We also learn that even death isn’t always what it seems.

Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it, and it might not be quite as sweet as you thought it would be… this is what Stan learns in Frank Zafiro’s story, Helping Out. As for our lead character and police officer, Aaron, he learns that sometimes sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong, even when you had good intentions, leads to nothing but trouble.

Vanity—the elusive fountain of youth—many of sought it through the years, and in Daddy’s Girl, Nonna’s Angel, by Katt Dunsmore, a mother seeks to find her immortal youth through her own daughter. At least, she does until Nonna Anna steps in and gives the vain mother exactly what she seeks—a chance to recapture her youth, literally.

Sam Hollis lives with the painful knowledge that not all criminals, especially those who batter their wives, receive the justice they deserve. A memory from the past haunts him to the point of obsession, causing him to lose everything that means anything to him, including his marriage. In Earl Staggs short story, Battered, Sam finds a way to redeem himself and his sister through a case that consumes his every waking thought—but once solved, can Sam redeem himself in his wife’s eyes and save their marriage?

There’s those who do things purely for their own selfish motivations, and we know that this is true of most criminal types. However, Sandra Seamans gives us a look into a one criminal who decides to go straight and retire from her life of crime, but not before she performs one more ‘job’ For Mary.

Michy Anderson wields the hand of fate in The Crazy Cat Lady, when Karla believes she has the purrrfect solution to her fiancé’s infidelity with Karla’s ex-best friend. However, during her ‘special’ engagement dinner, an ill timed ringing of the doorbell makes Karla rethink her conclusions. In this story, revenge is definitely a dish best served with tuna. Meow.

Straight from an episode of the Twilight Zone, the Cosmo Effect, by Jill Maser, shows us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but not in the scalpel of a plastic surgeon who holds a grudge.

You can’t always pick your neighbors, as we learn in Katt Dunsmore’s short story, Wisteria Lane, when Daniel’s ex-wife and his brother, who had an affair and are now married to each other, decide to move next door to him and his new wife, Roberta. For some reason, Roberta just can’t get her wisteria vines to grow. While Roberta is away on a business trip, Daniel finds the perfect fertilizer for Roberta’s vines and discovers a way to take care of his pesky new neighbor problem.

If you can’t trust family, who can you trust? In Earl Staggs’ short story, Brother-In-Law, we follow the thought processes of a brother who regrets not having protected his sister in order to prevent her death, but finds a way to avenge it. If you’re an abuser and have an ego, be careful whom you pick for your drinking buddies.

Michy Anderson takes empathy to a whole new level in her short story, The Empath. It’s one thing to feel for someone, but it’s another thing entirely to feel what another feels and act upon it.

Take a bus ride with the unsuspecting Brock as he takes a trip from prison down the path of retribution, in Victim Notification. BJ Bourg thrills us with a plot twisting story, in which a man, convicted of beating his wife and sentenced to prison, is finally released, and is on his way to seek revenge—only to find that his new confidante has reason to seek her own revenge too.

In our last story, summing up the ‘Hands’ theme for The Ex Factor anthology of short stories, we find Frank Zafiro’s installment, Take a Hand. The universe often deals it’s own version of justice, but as our lead character in this short story learns, sometimes you have to give the universe a bit of a helping hand.

Twenty-two stories of justified endings to bad Exes, nine authors sharing their versions of universal karma, The Ex Factor is a page turner that is hard to put down for long. No matter how you feel about justice, revenge, and vengeance, there is sure to be a story in The Ex Factor with which you can personal relate. While most of us would only dream of seeking revenge against an EX, The Ex Factor offers to those who have been wronged a moment of escape, in which the universe fairly deals with unfair situations.

I highly recommend this chilling anthology to anyone who is interested reading genres of light horror, crime and suspense, and drama. There is a little something for everyone in The Ex Factor.

With 304 chilling and thrilling pages, this anthology brought to us by Koboca Publishing is a fantastic short story anthology for those who like small bites of entertainment.

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