I Hate Trilogies and Here’s Why

I hate trilogies. I know, many of you will disagree with me and point me to epics like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

eagles
But I digress.

Well, Tolkien actually intended that to be a single book that publishers thought was too long for the audience of the time. So, they chopped it into three. Which, explains a lot, especially for those of us that saw the movies before we read the books and were quite angry at the end of the first movie when Frodo still had the blasted ring. After how ever many hours. With no bathroom break.

But that’s a story for another time.

No, my hatred of trilogies goes back to my childhood. I’d read a book called The Dark Angel.  Yeah, this story sticks in my head so much I remember the name even many decades later.

Darkangel
Art didn’t look anything like this back in the 80s when I read it.

I was so in love with this book, that I got my mom to take me to the library and snapped up the second book in the series, A Gathering of Gargoyles. What I didn’t know or understand at the time is what a trilogy was. But I was about to find out.

After devouring the second book as well, and I was totally rooting for the heroine and the hero to finally get together. To get their happily-ever-after. Yeah, I was a romance reader from the beginning. I’d been raised on Disney, and I had certain expectations even though I read these long before the Little Mermaid made its debut.

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I had no idea why Ariel wanted to be human when I so desperately wanted to be a mermaid.

So, I got to the end of the second book, and I wanted the third book. I begged my mom to take me to the library. After a bit of wrangling, she finally agreed. But the library didn’t have the third book. I lived in a small town with a small library. So I begged, whined and wheedled to get my parents to take me to the big library in the city that allowed me to borrow from them through a library exchange program. This was long before Amazon, and my family had to be frugal. No point buying what we could borrow.

Finally, my parents agreed to take me to the big the library the next day. I wasn’t happy, but if we went early enough, I’d have the book and still be able to finish it before school on Monday.

We got to the library when thy first opened the next day, but I couldn’t find the third book. I searched and searched. I couldn’t even find it in the card catalog. Yeah, I’m old. I not only know what one of these is, but I knew how to use them.

earlygoogle
Yup, like this.

Finally, I ask the librarian. She says if they don’t have the book, they could probably get it from the even bigger library system in the city of Milwaukee. It would only take a week or so.

A week!!

To my elementary school brain, that was forever. But I really wanted the book. So, she went to look it up and see if Milwaukee had it.

She comes back, but she isn’t holding the library hold slip. My heart thumps. Then she asks if I’m sure the book exists.

With the indignation of a elementary school child, I show her the three titles on the back of the current book. She checks again, and after some time (during which my parents and little sister are getting antsier and antsier), the librarian comes back to tell me the book hasn’t been published yet. There’s no release date on it, so it’s at least a year or two off.

 

I was devastated. How could I leave these characters not know what happened to them? I loved them, I wanted them to get together and be happy.

I cried on the way home, further angering my parents.

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About like this.

While I didn’t get it then, as a parent now, I totally understand their frustration. They did something to make me happy, something that was a pain for them, and it backfired. I was the exact opposite of happy.

Eventually, my tears dried, and being the precocious child I was, I wrote the author. I told her I loved her books and was wondering when the next one in the trilogy would be out as I had to know what happened next.

Kindly enough, she wrote me back and said she was still writing it. She also sent me an autographed hardcover(!) copy of another of her books, Birth of the Firebringer.

firebringer
It was the 80s. Don’t judge.

We were very frugal, and hardcover books were not in the budget. I was beyond excited to actually have a hardcover book, all my own, signed by the author.

But I only read it once.

See, I’d already suffered the pain of not being able to complete a trilogy. So, the very first thing I did was check and see if there were more books in this series. There were. Not all of them were out.

So, I put it in the cupboard above my bed. And there is sat for years. Every once in a while I’d check to see if all of the books in the series were out. See if it was time to read them. I continued to look for the third book in the Dark Angel series.

Eventually, all of the Firebringer books were out. So was the Dark Angel book. But I was five years older. Five years for a kid is a really long time. I was now in junior high. Reading Terry Brooks, Shakespeare, and Victoria Holt. I’d outgrown these books.

I did finally read the last Dark Angel book and hated it. This is a spoiler, but it came out almost three decades ago, so I’m going to let slip that the trilogy didn’t have a happy ending. Victoria Holt had already spoiled me. I expected more.

I did read Firebringer, but I never bothered to even look for the other two books in the trilogy. I had already moved on.

But these lessons stuck with me. To this day, I will not read a series until it’s complete. I want to know I’m going to get an ending.

 

How about you? Do you love trilogies? Hate them? What was your first experience with one?

 

Beach Reading Without Getting “The Look”

I want to be reading more, but it’s been a hectic summer with all the activities for the kids, DH having a much heavier than normal work schedule, and events for family and friends. Our vacation was less than spectacular, and we failed to potty train DD2 during it.

Now that summer is in its last throws and we’re gearing up for school to start, we’re taking one last long weekend. I haven’t gotten in much reading this last month with everything else going on, so I want to pack some beach reading.

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What I plan to be doing. Wishful thinking with a toddler, I know.

This means no iPad. While I do really like my iPad, it doesn’t like sand or water. And, it’s pretty tough to read in direct sunlight.

So, I have to find some actual, real paper books. I have mixed feelings on this. See, I love holding a real paper book in my hands. There’s just something about it I enjoy.

What I don’t enjoy is the traditional half-naked romance cover. On the beach. With the kids. And all the other snickers from family that come with it. Invariably, someone comments on it.

DevilinWinter
So, even dressed, still obvious.

I don’t *hide* that I love reading romances, though most people don’t think I’m your typical romance reader. They’d be wrong, as demographically, I fit the profile perfectly.

The iPad hides this cover beautifully, and no one ever need know I’m reading either a bit of Regency, a retelling of a fairy-tale, or if I’m really lucky, a love story with dragons instead of the Economist.

I wish Amazon sold romance books with an optional hide-what-I’m-reading cover. Make it a plain and boring cover without eve a title. Or a title like Complete History of the Napoleonic War. So us Regency readers know exactly what that means, but the rest of the beach can be blissfully unaware.

I don’t know why DH can bring a book with space ships and laser battles on the front, and no one looks twice. But a half-dressed hot guy and suddenly it’s nothing but snickers.

Stross
A book by DH’s favorite author. Less clothes than the romance novel, still gets fewer comments.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll have to borrow one of his space ship books. He’s been trying to get me to read more than the one book I did by Charles Stross anyway.

 

How about you? How do you read at the beach? Or on vacation? Do you prefer to read on an electronic device or a book? If you read romance, do you have any tricks to disguising your reading fare? Or maybe you just don’t care? Or maybe your family is less prone to teasing you?

Book Review: Nothing Like a Duke

BookNothing Like a Duke

Author: Jane Ashford

Status: Don’t bother.

This book was one in a series. It may have been better if I’d read the rest of the series, but I doubt it.

NothingLikeADuke

Premise: I’m sure there is a premise… Woman goes to a house party and the man she loves happens to be there, but she didn’t know he’d be there, and he didn’t know she’d be there. Yeah, I’m still not sure what the story was supposed to be about, and I read the book.

Plot: I couldn’t find one. The hero goes to a house party to forget the heroine for reasons. Didn’t read the other books, so I don’t know why. Heroine goes to the same house party for reasons. I never really figured out why she went. It’s not clear other than she wanted to see the ton, but why she does must’ve been in another book.

While nothing in this book was deep, the part that was very disturbing to me was the way the author treated PTSD. I don’t think she did any research on it, or if she did, it was very superficial.

  • The heroine was apparently captured, tied up, and helpless at one point in an earlier book.
  • We’re told this is a big deal toward the end of the book. We’re never shown her nightmares, her fear of men, her fear of being in tight places (which happens). Even her being caught in a brier bush is told to us from the hero rather than a very deep and dramatic scene for the heroine.
  • The “cure” for this was for her to be attempted to be raped by another man and for the heroine to escape on her own.

I know very little about PTSD. Maybe this would work, or maybe it would deepen her fears. I don’t know. But the way it was handled was not believable to me.

Romance: The hero, Robert, already loves the heroine, Flora, from another book. Flora also loves Robert and has no real reason not to want the romance to happen. I’m not sure why this book wasn’t over in less than 50 pages rather than the 352 it took.

Steamy Scenes: There were none. Not one. So this isn’t where the filler came from to get to the 352 pages.

Imagery: Nothing was ever really brought alive for me. Nothing felt sumptuous or beautiful. So, this isn’t what filled the 352 pages, either.

Characters: There is no character development. Robert starts out as Robert and ends as Robert. We’re told he’s celebrated by the ton, what all gentleman aspire to be. Perhaps we were *shown* that in previous books, but not this one.

Flora learns all people in the ton are people rather than caricatures, but that’s really not a lot of growth, either. We’re told Flora is smart so freaking many times I was ready to scream. And she’s beautiful. And she’s smart. And she’s charitable. And she’s smart.

One of the things I hated most about this book is that so much of it focused on a rivalry between the heroine and another female character over the hero. It started to boarder on the absurd, and frankly, I am tired of the trope. I prefer to see female friendships rather than competition over a man. It was such a blatant competition, the one woman literally called the other her competitor. Yuck.

 

All in, I’d rather do the dishes or vacuum than read this novel a second time.

Happily-Ever-After According to Science

Why do some marriages work and others don’t? Why do some people stay in a bad marriage, while others will leave a relatively good marriage?

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I hated Romeo and Juliet anyway.

Some will say love. Romance. Soul mates. On the more mundane and practical side, people will say shared interests, beliefs and goals.

As a romance writer and reader, you often see the story end at the point where the characters are married and are now expected to live happily-ever-after. Or, maybe this particular trope is one where they’re forced to marry because of plot reasons, but by the end of the story, they confess their love for each other and then live happily-ever-after.

Either way, we end with the characters in love and ready for their happily-ever-after ending.

In the real world, more marriage will end in divorce than be successful. At least in America they will.

Yeah, not very romance-writer of me to mention that, I know. But, if I want to give my characters a believable happily-ever-after, I need to understand what leads to that happily-ever-after. What makes some marriages work?

mar2
No, no, no, no, no!

 

Well, science has an explanation on why some marriages work and some don’t. It’s called Interdependence Theory.

Interdependence Theory states the following.

Rewards – there are rewards from marriage (or any social interaction). These can range from companionship to physical intimacy. Interdependence theory has defined them as the following:

  • Emotional – Positive and negative feelings in a relationship. These are especially important in a close relationship. Ah, here we’re getting to where love comes into play. See, you knew I was a romance writer!
  • Social – Or how you appear to others. Does being seen with a super model make you feel better about yourself? What about with a stripper? What other social repercussions are there from the relationship? Perhaps you have to attend a lot of operas, and you love opera. But what if you hate opera?
  • Instrumental – These rewards are achieved when a partner is proficient at handling tasks. Like mowing the lawn, building the kids a tree fort, or doing the laundry without anyone getting stuck with pink socks (true story).

Costs – there are costs to a relationship as well. Basically, for all of the different types of rewards (emotional, social or instrumental), there is a corresponding cost. So, just like there are emotional, social and instrumental rewards, there are emotional, social, and instrumental costs. Makes sense.

So, DH putting up with my annoying habit of leaving my shoes by the sofa where I kick them off every night would be an example of an instrumental cost my husband has to pay regardless of how many times I’ve promised I’d be better about it. Or going to the annual corporate party for my employer would be a social cost. Sorry honey!

Rewards Minus Costs  Should Be Positive – Yeah, not very romantic, is it? Sounds more like I’m building a profit and loss statement than writing a romance novel.

Yes, I’m sure I’m a romance writer. But science is seldom romantic.

However unpleasant it may sound, research has shown that humans keep a record, whether consciously or not, of the net value of a relationship to us. So, you’re in a “profitable” relationship if the rewards outweigh the costs. But, this still isn’t enough to keep people in a relationship. They have to be making “enough” profit. Kind of like when you invest in your 401(k) account. You only have so much money, so you want to select the investments that will net you the most profit for the time you have them invested.

Comparison / Opportunity Cost – Once someone has tallied up their total relationship rewards and costs, they will either consciously or subconsciously review their other options. Even if they are net positive, in their account isn’t earning as much as they think it should, they are more likely to end the relationship and look for another. This may explain all of the Hollywood break-ups.

 

Okay, so now that we know this, how can we apply the science to making a romance novel earn its happily-ever-after?

mar3
Not the response I’m looking for, though I may have said it about a romance novel or three.

 

I want my happily-ever-afters to be believable. So, here are a couple of ways I can use the Interdependence Theory to make it believable:

1.No Alpha-Holes – A strong male lead could provide a lot of rewards on the instrumental level. He gets stuff done. But even if a heroine loves him, the emotional and social costs of dealing with him are going to be extremely high. Toning him back so he’s still an alpha without being a jerk would help a lot.

2. No Porcelain Dolls – Both characters in the romance have to be active. If either can basically be put on the shelf while the other does all the heavy lifting, you’re going to have a relationship with very high instrumental costs. No matter how much you love someone, if they can’t figure out how to open the refrigerator and get themselves a soda, you’re going to get pretty ticked at them after a while.

3. Opposites Might Not Attract – The whole wallflower with a super outgoing character trope might not end well. If the wallflower really doesn’t like much social interaction, but the extrovert loves it, there is going to be a high social cost to the relationship. Unless, of course, one or the other is the way they are to mask their true personality. The extrovert who actually hates all the parties etc.

 

What do you think? Does interdependence theory hold water in your book? Think it’s bunk? If so why or why not? Any other way that it could be used in writing to give believable happily-ever-afters?

Book Review: Mine Till Midnight

Title: Mine Till Midnight

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Status: Worth a Read

Mine

 

I listened to this as an audiobook rather than read it. I am still pretty new to listening to books, but I am starting to really like it. The experience is different, and while I still prefer to read rather than listen to books, this is a great way to get some “reading” in while doing boring tasks like cleaning the kitchen or weeding.

 

Summary: After the death of their parents, four sisters are dependent on their older brother who has a promising future as an architect. When the brother loses the woman he loves to scarlet fever, he becomes a self-destructive boar. This is compounded when the deaths of three distant family members drop a “cursed” title and admission to the peerage on this brother.  The story centers around the oldest sister, Amelia. She’s forgone marriage herself to see to her family, keep them together, and keep them safe. She encounters Rohan, the hero of the story, while rescuing her brother from a gaming club.

Plot: Plot is pretty sparse. It’s basically getting Amelia and Rohan together as she deals with the trials of her family. With a suicidal brother, a sister with weak lungs from her bought with scarlet fever, to a kleptomaniac sister, Amelia has her hands full. The fact that the estates that came with the title are falling apart, literally, doesn’t help. There’s enough going to keep the story moving forward and keep Amelia and Rohan together without feeling contrived. I don’t expect more, so this was fine with me.

Romance: It’s pretty standard that he falls in love with her, then must convince her that she wants to give up her independence to be his bride. He has a few issues along the way coming to terms with his feelings, giving up his own freedom as he feels tied down by her world, but he comes to terms with them. No real spoiler here as this is a romance novel, but he gets her to agree to marry him by the end of the book. Some of her objections in the last quarter of the book become annoying, and this was one of the only part that had me rolling my eyes.

Characters: Rohan is half gypsy, so this is a unique spin on any romance novel I’ve ever read. I can tell the author did research on the gypsy people of the time. Or if she didn’t, she faked it exceedingly well. Possibly helped by the fact that none of my history classes even touched on them. War of the Roses? Oh yes. Roma people? Not at all.

Rohan is your typical physically powerful very rich male lead. But the fact that he’s an outcast for his mixed heritage adds a different flavor.

Amelia is your standard pretty spinster heroine who has put independence and siblings first. If you’ve ever dealt with difficult or unruly children, you’ll feel for her. She has personality, but not nearly as interesting as Rohan.

One thing I loved about this book was that woman are shown as friends. The Countess of Westcliff is kind and understanding. As is Lady St. Augustine. So many authors, far too many, in my opinion, show other women as rivals. They discard all notions of female friendship and focus on a very unhealthy rivalry. Always over a man. This author did NOT do that, and I very much appreciated it.

The sisters were kind and snarky to each other, as sisters will be.

Steamy Scenes: These are quite good. Very good. Some worth rereading. This is one of the author’s big strengths.

Use of Imagery: This is amazing. Her descriptive prowess is excellent, and she does it succinctly using terrific metaphors and similes I don’t usually here. She makes things feel sumptuous and sensual. This is a huge strength for this author.

 

All in, this is a good read from an author I had written off after not being able to get through more than a chapter or two of another one of her books. Makes a case for giving an author a second chance. And I never would have if I hadn’t been able to get her audiobooks from the library.

Book Review: To Charm a Naughty Countess

Book: To Charm a Naughty Countess

Author: Theresa Romain

Recommendation: Skip It

NaughtyCountess

Premise: A duke who is deep in debt due to his father’s indulgences needs a wealthy bride to save his lands when creditors come calling. He offers one of the most exalted titles in the land in return for a rich dowry. A rich widowed countess offers to help him. It just so happens that these two are still in love with each other even after the happenings of eleven years ago.

Plot:  Wait, there is one? Oh yes, they love each other. She’s rich. He’s titled. And…it takes a whole book for them to admit to each other their feelings. Yeah, there’s some filler as to why they can’t. Frankly, I started skimming sections looking for the plot. There was none. No murder that needed solving, no werewolves skulking around, not even a previous jilted love interest. Literally, just the two of them getting around to admitting their feelings. For the whole book.

Characters: I didn’t really see any character development on either the hero or heroine’s part. They do eventually get around to admitting to themselves and each other their feelings, but there’s no real driving factor to this.

Romance: The characters were in love with each other at the beginning of the story, though they didn’t yet know it. Or they knew it and wouldn’t admit it. This was fine, but as this was the entire story with no other plot to back it up, it felt thinner than it otherwise would have.

Steamy Scenes: There were two in the whole book. One about half way through, the other at the end. They were good, not enough to save the book, but good.

 

Overall, not a terrible read, but not one I’d recommend either. With all of the romance novels out there, you can find one with more of a plot, or more steamy bits to keep you engaged.

Book Review: Her Highness and the Highlander

Book: Her Highness and the Highlander

Author: Tracy Anne Warren

Status: Worth a Look

This book was isn’t going to knock your socks off, but it’s a nice afternoon read.

Premise: A princess (from a fictional country) and her entourage are attacked on her way from her finishing school to London. She is the only survivor, and in her bedraggled state, no one will believe she’s royalty. She’s far from friends and family, and completely out of her element. A Scotsman on his way home from the Napoleonic Wars takes pity on her, helps her out, and eventually agrees to take her to London. Along the way, they fall on in love.
Plot: It’s pretty thin. We need a reason for the hero and heroine to be together. So, despite the massive battle that killed her entourage, captain of her guard, her uncle etc. no one finds any evidence of it. I guess they must’ve really been on back roads, and the bad guys must’ve had a veritable army to clean up the mess. Oh, no wait, it was one guy that cleaned it up. *shakes head*

I didn’t find it believable. But I suspended disbelief as we couldn’t have good guys finding her if she was going to need the hero to get her to London. Alone, of course.

Romance: They fall in love along the way to London. They’re so in lust with each other, that they need to quickly marry so they can have sex. Par for the romance genre, if a bit unbelievable. The author did try to make the princess seem like she’d be okay giving up her extremely privileged life to live with a commoner.

Steamy Scenes: This is really where the author shone. The steamy scenes were steamy, the prose pretty without getting in the way of what was going on between them. She used none of my automatic close the books words, so we’re good there.

Characters: There is no character development. Not really sure how they would develop as both seem pretty perfect from the beginning. This is your typical romance fare, so neither character is going to grow or develop in the story.

 

All in, a decent read. I finished it on a blustery afternoon, and it wasn’t gripping enough I couldn’t put it aside with ease to make snacks for the kids. At the same time, it entertained and didn’t disappoint with the ending.

Elves?

As I mentioned in my post on dragons, the novels I write are in a fantasy world. While each novel is a standalone story, all of them take place in the same world.

So far, all four of my WIPs take place in the human country of Tamryn. I’ve established that magic is real. Vampires are real. Knights smite evil and liches haunt the living.

I have not yet brought it elves. But elves sorta have a but of a reputation…

elves1

Given some of the writing I’ve seen, that reputation isn’t exactly unearned. And I’ve gotta admit, coming up with elven-sounding names is the bane of this fantasy romance writer.

I’ve mentioned them in passing in my work, but I haven’t yet written a story about them much less set one in their magical home of Tanalear.

Part of the lack of story writing is me trying to figure out how to add them to my world. Do I just jump right in and give readers a story in Tanalear? Or should I write a different story that brings an elf to the human city.

Bringing an elf into human lands creates all kinds of issues for me. See, I’m not entirely sure I buy into this half-elf business. If you aren’t the same species, you can’t procreate. There would be no half-elves.

beer-beer-renaissance-faire-festival-elf-elves-demotivational-poster-1208405760
Nope, not buying it. Not even beer can change the fact species can’t procreate.

While I’m a romance writer, and I can imagine a scenario of an elf and human falling in love, I promise my reader a happily-ever-after (HEA) ending by virtue of writing a romance novel. So, I’m hard-pressed to view a HEA with a hero and heroine where one of them is going to die in seventy-five years, and the other is going to spend the next thousand mourning them.

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Basically, I’m considering if I need to craft some sort of adventure that features an elven protagonist before jumping into the elven world?

This is even harder than the challenges I face as a romance writer because the Tanalearian elves are isolationist and xenophobic, still turned inward even after their empire collapsed thousands of years ago in the Great Cataclysm.

The last remaining vestiges of their once-great empire are protected by ancient magics. Part of their story will be re-assimilating back into a world that now contains humans.

So, yeah, it sort of feels like the elves meeting the humans should be a big, climactic thing.

But I don’t want to confuse readers, either. Readers are smart, but if they’re expecting knights and dragons, I don’t want to disappoint with elves.

I also worry that lots has been written about elves. I sometimes wonder if your civilization collapsed, if the archaeologists piecing it back together would think elves were real.

Given that so much has already been written, I need to give it a fresh enough spin. I like to think I have this mapped out in my head. Besides, it’s not like many stories are truly unique. Amateurs borrow and professionals steal, as the saying goes.

I have given a lot of thought to their queen (Tanalearian elves have a matriarchal monarchy), her son, and some of the new mages. Even a major villain has been knocking around in there.

But none of them want to come to Tamryn. None of them see the point. They have yet to see beyond their crumbling cities.

Hmmm, perhaps we shall have to have an inciting incident…

elves3

 

How about you? Do you like elves? Tolkien or otherwise? Read any stories that take place in an entirely elven world? Did you like it? What do you think of half-elves and half-orcs? Is my science brain thinking too much on this?

Pleasure Reading

I read for pleasure. There, I’ve said it. I’ve admitted it.

Strange thing is, I don’t know why I need to admit it. Yet, I regularly feel like I do. For some reason, I must justify choosing books that promulgate fun over enlightenment. I’m not alone in this, either. Especially fellow romance readers. We love our books, but there’s a sort of secret shame to it.

I don’t know why.

When was the last time a group of people felt guilty going to see Transformers? Disappointed, maybe, but guilty? Seriously, two hours of explosions and special effects didn’t leave them any smarter. Yet, that’s totally okay, and no one who saw the movie feels the need to explain why. They went for fun. Some eye candy, and on to the next thing.

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So why do so many people that read feel the need to justify pleasure reading?

Perhaps this goes back to high school English class when so many of our teachers literally killed really great books. I remember reading The Scarlet Letter for enjoyment two years before we read it in English class. It wasn’t something I would’ve actively sought out again given how heart-wrenching it was, but I had enjoyed it. It made me think, and it made me cry.

Then my English teacher got a hold of it. Suddenly, the rust on the wrought iron fence was imbued with all sorts of symbolism. I went from liking the book to being ecstatic for the day we were done with it. On my second read through with my English class, I didn’t care about any of the characters or their struggles. It was read, regurgitate, repeat.

symb

That same class, the teacher was chastising some of the lower performers in the class and asking them what it would take to get them engaged. I remember the ring-leader of this group asked why couldn’t we read something like The Stand. My ears perked up. If ever there was a book laden with symbolism, a true epic struggle between good and evil…

But that wasn’t in the curriculum. The teacher never approved it, and we plodded on through Shakespeare and whatever else was “required” reading.

Makes me wonder if this is where so many people had their love of books squashed. While there’s a lot in Shakespeare, Golding, and Hawthorne, there’s also a lot in Tolkien, King, and maybe even Patterson. Given the current popularity of the latter authors, it truly surprises me that they don’t get more time in a classroom. These books are all written for a modern audience (okay, maybe no Tolkien, but I bet his work would still spark interest).

If something is interesting, there’s a higher probability you’ll learn something and keep that learning with you beyond the test. Interest is powerful, and for some reason, we horribly underestimate and discredit it.

Perhaps too many people had English teachers that didn’t engage them and began to associate reading with my second trip through The Scarlet Letter. Reading was a chore, a task to do so a paper could be written before we scampered off to do what we wanted to do, like watch a movie.

scarlet

If that’s how reading is perceived, I can understand why people don’t get pleasure reading. Why it seems odd that we’d open up a romance novel and snuggle onto the sofa to have a lovely afternoon read.

This comes back to a different question though: should every book we read have the same depth my English teacher assigned to The Scarlet Letter?

I’m going to say “no”. There’s no reason why everything we do must be learning endeavor. Maybe it’s just me. I strongly dislike most literary books. Give me a romance, epic fantasy, or space opera. Give me characters I can cheer for and an ending that leaves me satisfied. Basically, give me a good movie or mini-series between the pages of a book.

 

What do you think? Do you pleasure read? Why or why not? Do you hold movies and TV shows to the same standards as books? Maybe you had a really awesome English teacher that gave you a totally different experience?

 

 

Book Review: An Unexpected Wish

Book: An Unexpected Wish

Author: Eileen Richards

Recommendation: Save your time and wash the cat

Wish

I love a good romance. Heck, I like a decent romance.

Unfortunately, this was more like watching the writer play “Barbies” than actually reading a romance.

The entire novel could’ve been condensed into a short story. There wasn’t enough plot to hold up a full length novel, so the author substituted melodrama, lots of running away, and contrived situations to get the page count.

(Spoilers Ahead)

The premise of the novel is a young woman is in dire straights as she attempts to support herself and her sisters on a paltry inheritance left by her mother. Their brother has tossed them out for reasons the author never does a good job explaining (because their father praised Anne’s accomplishments and wanted his son to live up to them? Really? So the son tosses all three of his sisters on the street, with literally just the clothes on their backs when their father dies? Really?)

In a desperate attempt to have enough food and burning fuel to get through the winter, Anne makes a wish for a handsome husband that will provide for her and her sisters.

Low and behold, shortly after making the wish, the rich hero arrives and starts paying all sorts of attention to her.

Let’s state again the heroine and her sisters are on the brink of not having enough food or fuel to get through the winter. We’re talking about starvation or a life of prostitution to survive.

But the heroine decides she can’t possible marry the hero because he loves her only because of her wish. Let me tell you, if I became a New York Times best-selling author because of a wish, I’d take it with both hands and never look back.

What makes this even more disingenuous is that the heroine had no problem marrying her younger sister off to “save the family”.

Frankly, the story should’ve ended with the handsome hero offering for her, and Anne saving the family.

If the author wanted a full length novel, she needed something more to keep the hero and heroine apart. The “oh, he couldn’t possibly love me for real because of I made a wish” held absolutely no water. Let me tell you how much I disliked the heroine after hearing this a dozen or so times, and there were several dozen more times of listening to her say it still to come.

I mean, seriously. This is what she wanted, what she needed, to keep her sisters from starving. To keep them freezing come winter. And to reject it because of superstition?

Most hungry people would marry him and thank the fairies, not throw their “wish” back in the fairies’ face.

Now, enter deadbeat brother who has lost the entire family fortune to gambling (with the hero, nonetheless) and is looking for his sister to part with her mother’s jewels to save him from some very relentless creditors. And, he’s told every hoodlum in London that his sister has these jewels. Of course, there are no jewels or Anne would’ve sold them already.

You can guess where this is going. The brother must be redeemed, but the path to his redemption is unbelievable. One minute he’s willing to sell his sister to the hero for his “get out of debt” free card, and the next minute he’s suddenly willing to go to India and work off his debt to the hero. Nothing I saw created that change. Just sorta, yep, we need a happily-ever-after ending, so he’s gotta change.

Not even the “twist” ending was believable.  Why would Cecil Worth bother with the whole use of the Fairy Steps in the first place to trick Anne into thinking she was getting a wish? Anne had no suitors. If he was suddenly interested in her because of the jewels, he had no need to go through with the ruse. Never explained, and makes no sense given his character. But, you know, the plot needed a villain and a plausible explanation for the wish.

Speaking of plot, it mostly consisted of lots of running from here to there for the heroine as she goes from dodging one suitor to another. Seriously. Let’s run away to the Lodge. oh no, hero is there. Let’s run back home. Oh no, brother is there. Let’s go for a walk in the woods. Oh no, other suitor is there. Ugh. I think fifty percent of the book was the heroine running around for “reasons”.

There’s the obligatory steamy scenes towards the end, but they’re as cardboard and unbelievable as the rest of the story.

The writing itself is okay, but the use of line break to denote a change in point-of-view or scene are non-existent. Pulled me out of what little story every time there was one. The dialogue can also get pretty awful. Here’s an actual excerpt from the end of the book, as we discuss for the 100th or is that 1,000th time that the hero might actually love her:

“You think he loves me?”

John nodded. “When you were taken, he went still. He was icy calm. But his eyes burned. It was clear that someone he cared about deeply was in danger.”

Oh yeah, then there was my least favorite romance trope. The heroine being kidnapped. And because its snowing, her captor totally doesn’t give chase when she slips into the forest after getting motion sick. But, you know, the hero is totally just going to pay a ransom when he can find her footprints in the snow. *eye roll* The author must’ve been getting to the end of word count and didn’t want to spend much time on this.

All in, I walked into this book looking for a bit of pleasure reading. Some book candy while my kids watched a movie on Friday night. I wanted a fun romance, maybe some good steamy scenes, and a happily-ever-after. I got the HEA, but that was about it.