minnabird (minnabird) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 4 and 5

I used to think I was the sort of person who didn't read romance novels, but every now and then I go on a spree. Actually, this is mostly the fault of a blog called Smart Bitches, Trashy Books which I occasionally binge-read because I love the way the bloggers talk and their frank reviews and silliness even though I’ve never even heard of most of the books they read. Actually my first adult-romance-binge (I mostly read YA) came from deciding that a Jennifer Crusie book they reviewed sounded interesting. Now I’ve read four or five Crusie novels and own at least three. I started out this narration because Book #4 and probably #6 represent another binge, but then I decided to take a look at SBTB because I haven’t been on in a while and there was a post about a Regency romance novella that was a free eBook and came recommended so...I figured why not? And that’s Book #5.

Book 4: I’ve Got Your Number
Author: Sophie Kinsella, 2012.
Genre: Chick-lit. Romance. Contemporary.
Other details: eBook.

This one was a lot of fun (and a lot of running away cringing - I don’t deal well with secondhand embarrassment). Poppy Wyatt is about to get married to a man she hasn’t known for very long, but she’s over the moon. Except for the fact that his family are all complete geniuses and she feels like an unwanted idiot around them. Oh, and she’s just lost her engagement ring - a priceless family heirloom.

During the search for her ring, her phone is stolen, and in another random coincidence, she spots a phone in a bin and takes it. It belonged to the ex-PA of Sam Roxton, who’s pretty high up in a consulting firm. Poppy convinces him to let her hold onto the phone, and through receiving, forwarding and snooping through his correspondence, she gets to know him. And the pair of them turn each others’ worlds inside out.

This is very much a rom-com in book form, but it’s a fun romp, clever, with a rather thrilling corporate intrigue subplot and plenty of room for the characters to examine each others’ shortcomings, their own shortcomings, and those of the people around them.

Book 5: Ruined by a Rake
Author: Erin Knightley, 2013.
Genre: Regency romance.
Other details: eBook.

Yes, I know. Groan at that title. I was actually expecting a much different breed of 'bad' from this book than what I got.

Eleanor Abbington is twenty-four years old and has very firmly decided that she doesn’t want to get married. She saw from her (now dead) parents’ abusive marriage just how marrying, especially for social/political gain, can ruin a woman’s life, and she relishes her independence. However, her uncle, the head of the family, has decided that he wants her married to further his political agendas. She has three options, basically: choose one of the three men he’s pointed out of her own volition (all old and boring, some of whom remind her of her father), have one chosen for her, or he can bring her impressionable seventeen-year-old sister home and have her married off.

And then her uncle’s step-son, Nicolas, returns home from his stint in the army. Eleanor and her family seem to have always lived with the uncle, and the uncle re-married when she was nine and Nick was seven. Nick and Eleanor have always had this Beatrice-Benedick sort of relationship - all sparring, all the time, with Eleanor at least barely able to admit that she’s sort of fond of him. (Nick, on the other hand, has been in love/lust with her forever).

This novella was such a frustrating experience for me. Somehow I got really invested in Eleanor and Nick as characters almost straight off. Emma was unexpected: a Regency heroine who genuinely doesn’t want to marry! Who’s not naive and has seen the nasty side of marriage! And Nick was unexpected as well - yes, rakish and muscular and handsome, but during the bits narrated by him, we see he has issues of his own, an insecurity he hides behind his brashness. Surely, I thought, we can slowly break through the sparring and find some real connection; surely, we won’t have a rushed-into, guaranteed happy ending.

[Spoiler (click to open)]
I was completely wrong on both counts and I’m so annoyed. Eleanor does see a bit of concern and sincerity from him, but otherwise, she still doesn’t know him much better at book’s end - and at book’s beginning, there’s definitely at least a fundamental misunderstanding between the two of them. It’s possible she knows more about him than she lets on - after all, they spent their childhood together, and he taught her how to fence - but if the author doesn’t tell us this, then it’s not worth anything in the story. During the almost-kiss, I was a bit annoyed by the distance her not really knowing him and just sort of being really attracted to him created; during the first actual kiss, I was put off by the apparently world-shaking loveliness of the kiss; and when she told him, “You have ruined me for any other man. You’ve ruined me for living the life I once enjoyed,” I would have thrown the book at the wall if it wasn’t on my phone.

I think there is nothing so aggravating as experiencing a story and sticking with it because you see those seeds of potential and so desperately want them to play out, but instead it just gets more and more trite and undeveloped and just plain crap.

I suppose in a sense I get what I paid for, but still. Ugh. The potential.
Tags: chicklit, historical romance, romance

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 1 comment