I care about the English Royal Family not one jot -- but I still devoured Heather Cocks' and Jessica Morgan's "The Royal We" like I was starving and iI care about the English Royal Family not one jot -- but I still devoured Heather Cocks' and Jessica Morgan's "The Royal We" like I was starving and it was a perfect plate of fish and chips. (I actually care about fish and chips a great deal.) Cocks and Morgan are the creators of the perennially hilarious Go Fug Yourself blog, where aside from keeping me fashionable and entertained for something like 10 years, they have also taught me what little I do know about the Royal Family -- mostly that they have a penchant for large, silly hats. I gleaned my rudimentary knowledge of the Prince William/Kate Middleton romance and wedding through the GFY site -- a story which, in The Royal We, Cocks and Morgan reinvent as a pitch-perfect romantic comedy. While studying abroad at Oxford, American Rebecca "Bex" Porter meets her housemate, Nick -- without immediately realizing he's more commonly known as Nicholas, Prince of Wales. Despite the fairy tale setup, the narrative is surprisingly grounded, thanks in large part to Bex herself, who's one of the best romcom heroines I've encountered in a long time: she's adorable, but her flaws aren't; she's a true, realistic everywoman, yet still uniquely herself. I fell in love with Nick through her eyes, then raced through the book, desperate to see if they'd get their happy ending. The journey is wonderfully complicated, and totally dishy, but never trashy, fun. This is the perfect comfort read -- ideal for bed, beach, or plane....more
ACT I Trin: Don't you just love library book sales? So many wonderful works of literature! I hope I can find a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! (Approximately four seconds pass.) Trin: Hahaha, check out all these romance novels. Can you BELIEVE these? Look, this one's called My Big Fake Green-Card Wedding! Isn't that amazing? Lily: LOL. Trin: Haha, omg, listen to the first line of the cover blurb! "She might be the last twenty-nine-year-old virgin in Greece, but Melina Kostos did not need her overprotective father and brothers handpicking her husband!" This is hilarious! Lily: LOL. Trin: It's only 50 cents! I totally need to buy this, right? Buy it and read it for the LOLs? Lily: LOL. Totally. (Trin buys the book)
ACT II (Greece! A country the author has absolutely been to and can write about with accuracy!) Melina: I want to be in America! Okay by me in America! Everything free in America! Adam: Childcare isn't free, strange woman I just met in an elevator. Melina: You are American? I am a Greek woman, from Greece. Adam: I am an international businessman on an international business trip! Melina: *swoons* Adam: Pity I have to go home to take care of my daughter so my bitch of an ex-wife can go on her honeymoon. How can she be so outrageously demanding? I'll have to get a nanny! Melina: You don't need a nanny! You need a wife! Adam: LOL. You offering? Melina: If you help me get a green card, I will cook for you, clean for you, provide free childcare, and completely ensure that this book won't be challenging any gender roles. Adam: Sounds like a pretty good offer, sweetheart. Melina: Wait! No touchies. And you gotta meet my dad. Er, I mean. You must meet my father. I will now repeat this statement in Greek.
Melina's Father: So tell me, why do you want to marry my Greek daughter?*** Adam: Whoa, she's GREEK? I, like, totally didn't get that. It went straight over my head. Melina: Straight over your...head? What means this phrase? Adam: Will you let me marry your Greek daughter if I pretend I've gotten her knocked up? Melina's Father: It is a pity I cannot KILL the father of my future grandchildren!
(America) Melina: Oh no! I must continue to resist my husband! And yet...if only I could have the courage to explore the curves at his lithe waist, to run my fingers through the golden-brown curls on his very masculine chest, or to inhale his masculine scent of shaving lotion and soap?*** For I am a red-blooded Greek woman, and he is just so very, very...masculine. Adam: Oh no! I want my Greek wife, not just as a nanny and housemaid...but as a wife! The kind one is allowed to have sex with ALONG with using as a nanny and a maid! I never imagined that I could come to want the spouse from my marriage of convenience, because apparently I have not absorbed any pop culture at all over the last 20 years! Melina: At least I am Greek, and thus have an excuse. Adam's Daughter: THIS BOOK NEEDS AN ADORABLE MOPPET! LOVE ME!
(Melina and Adam go to look at erotic statuary.) Melina: This is too much for my 29-year-old Greek virgin self! TAKE ME! Adam: Oh, thank goodness - I was beginning to think you were from Lesbos! (There is fade-to-black fucking.) Adam: OMG! Why didn't you tell me you were a virgin? I'm going to proceed to feel so guilty for robbing you of your innocence in front of the erotic statuary that I'll snub you so you think I think you're a whore! Melina: In Greece, we are hot-blooded and would never do such a thing! But this is AMERICA, so why don't we continue to have stupid misunderstandings to pad out the rest of this novel? Adam: Sounds good! But don't you think we should maybe have a couple of INS agents show up and be ridiculous and unthreatening for a few pages? Melina: Sure. It's better than having your daughter show up again!
(Many misunderstandings and a couple of inept INS agents later...) Adam: Okay, this thing is over 200 pages. Let's stop misunderstanding each other now. Melina: I would like to start by understanding your penis. Adam: Nope, this is one of those rigorously non-porny romance novels. We'd just fade to black again. Melina: All right, then: since women love weddings, let's wrap this up by getting married a SECOND time! Adam: Sounds good! Women also love babies, right? Melina: I guess so...why? Adam: I knocked you up the very first time we had sex. Melina: Just what every Greek woman wants! And hey, that reminds me. Whatever happened to those INS agents? Adam's Daughter: I KILLED THEM AND DRANK THEIR LIFEBLOOD FROM THEIR PULSING NECK STEMS. Adam&Melina: Aww! That's adorable!
ACT III/EPILOGUE Trin: That was awful! It wasn't even that funny - it was just boring! How can people read these over and over again? Gosh, I'll tell you, I have certainly learned my lesson. I'm sure I'll never ever ever read a book I know will be bad just because I think it'll be funny again! Lily: LOL. LOL. LOL. Trin: *shoots Greedo first*
*Yes, I am a chick. But I have sort of always wanted to be Han Solo. Don't ruin my moment. **Characterization may be sacrificed for humorous effect. If you forgive me, Lily, I'll let you take a spin in the Millennium Falcon. ***Actual line from the book....more
I love Mystery Science Theater. The clever mocking of ridiculously dumb things is one of my favorite things. I am consistently glad that MST3K lives oI love Mystery Science Theater. The clever mocking of ridiculously dumb things is one of my favorite things. I am consistently glad that MST3K lives on in RiffTrax, and I very much enjoy downloading them and chuckling through those wonderful skewerings of cinematic idiocy. Mostly I download them and watch them right away, eager like a kid with a bag of candy. So when the RiffTrax version of the Star Wars Christmas Special appeared, I pounced on it in the same way. RiffTrax! The infamously terrible Star Wars Christmas Special! What could be better?
I watched about 90 seconds of it and then I had to stop. I still have the damn thing taking up space on my hard drive, but I just can't bring myself to watch it. I know it will make me laugh, perhaps frequently, but I can't. I just can't. The wince-factor is simply too high.
I'm having the same sort of reaction with Pleasuring the Pirate, which I was initially really kinda looking forward to reading. I know it will be bad—at times, perhaps, gloriously, magnificently bad—and that sounds fun to me. But every time I pick it up and look at the cover—the rope suggesting fun bondagey times; the woman's slightly drugged expression; the quintessential phallic sword; the man's odd, migratory nipples—I just— gah, I can't, I can't, I simply can't do this to myself right now. It will drive me crazy.
Part of the problem may be that I already read an excruciatingly bad romance novel this month, and I've reached my quota for a while. Jude Deveraux's An Angel For Emily had the honor of becoming the first book I have ever actually thrown at a wall. In fairness, I must admit that it was not actually hurled in anger: my cat was scratching at the door at a special time I like to call threeo'clockinthegoddamnmorning and the book was merely a convenient object to direct at said door to get him to shut up. But honestly, if I'd rolled over and seen a book I actually liked—or even, did not hate—next to my bed, I would have probably thrown a slipper or something.
Anyway, she said in the voice of one deeply traumatized, I just can't go through that again so soon: I can't read another book I know—or at least strongly suspect—from the outset that I will hate. There are simply too many (potentially) good books for me to read. Right now I have on my nightstand (okay, spread all over my floor. Are you happy?): Tokyo Vice, The Razor's Edge, an upcoming book by Samantha Bee, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the first volume of Your Face Tomorrow, and some dopey-fun thing about time travel. I want to read those books, and many others besides. And normally I could wait the time it'd take me to read one stupid romance novel, but I just don't feel like it. Also, some of them are due back at the library soon.
So there is the story of my (ig)noble (lack of) effort. For my sake, and for my cat's, I'm sure you'll agree I made the right decision....more
Enjoyable Heyer romp, containing neither as much crossdressing fun as The Masqueraders, nor as much dull ickiness as These Old Shades. As seems to freEnjoyable Heyer romp, containing neither as much crossdressing fun as The Masqueraders, nor as much dull ickiness as These Old Shades. As seems to frequently be the case in Heyer novels, there are two couples, and one is significantly more interesting than the other; as is also often the case, there is a naive young woman who is supposed to seem charming but isn’t, and one or more men whom we are meant to believe are straight, but instead seem really, really gay. One comes away with a rather odd view of the eighteenth century, reading these books.
I think Heyer would be a fun author to find on the shelves of a picturesque lakeside cabin rental, when you have nothing expected of you besides lying out in the sun, swimming, and eating fresh berry pies. Sadly, since my life looks nothing like that, it will probably be a while before I reach for another one of her books....more
This is the book that I (not-so-)famously threw at the wall, as described here. Though, in fairness, that was really a matter of proximity more than eThis is the book that I (not-so-)famously threw at the wall, as described here. Though, in fairness, that was really a matter of proximity more than especial malice. Don’t get me wrong: this book is bad. But it’s sort of forgettably bad—to the point where I have, for the most part, forgotten it. All that’s left is a vague memory of badness, lingering on the (otherwise spotless!) walls of my mind like soap scum.
I think it was mostly typical bad romance novel badness: ooky gender stuff (actual line: "'Emily!' Michael said through clenched teeth. 'This is no time to play your female games.'"), dull and at times incomprehensible plot, characters who are too dumb to live. I read it because it’s about an angel and a human who fall in lurv, and at the time I was still rocking that narrative kink like whoa, but this book utterly failed to satisfy it. Emily is dumb as a chipped brick and Michael is really, really boring for an angel; to top off this dull cake with some disinterested frosting, their happy ending consists of him turning human but without either of them remembering that he was ever anything else. Oh, and Emily also has a ridiculously over-the-top evil politician fiancé to get in the happy couple’s way at strategically relevant points. And there are ghosts, or something. I swear, even full-length and (apparently) fully-realized, this book made no more sense than this summary.
So I think I’ll just proceed to forget its contents the rest of the way—Deveraux does appear to consider that a happy ending, after all. From now on, it will simply be known as The Book I Threw at a Wall....more
**spoiler alert** In which Sydney's anthropologist father finds a wild man in the woods, and Sydney and the dude raised by wolves fall in looooooove,**spoiler alert** In which Sydney's anthropologist father finds a wild man in the woods, and Sydney and the dude raised by wolves fall in looooooove, and then Wolf Man turns out to actually be a lost Scottish Lord, making his union with Sydney socially acceptable for the 19th century. Yay?
Here's what I like about Patricia Gaffney: she's infinitely more readable than pretty much any other romance novelist I've discovered. She's willing to tackle wonderfully crackish plots—I mean, this one is practically a het'd up due South AU. And her heroes are wonderfully, refreshingly not alpha males, and her heroines are not blushing virgins who need to be manhandled for their own good. Instead, her ladies are competent and confident and the dudes are often the ones who are virginal or shy. Score!
And yet I still come away from Gaffney's books wishing they'd been more transgressive. How can I not roll my eyes at last minute, “oh wait, I'm a lord, let's have socially-acceptable sexytiems nao”? Also, both of the Gaffney books I've read so far were way too long and dragged in the middle. So close! So close and yet so far!
But if you want some crackish profic romance, however, Gaffney's close to the best I've found at this point. She should write an amnesia or a bodyswap book. I'd totally read that....more
I read this book because I was looking for a nice culture clash romantic comedy. The title, however, is deceptive: the "ordinary lady" is not, in factI read this book because I was looking for a nice culture clash romantic comedy. The title, however, is deceptive: the "ordinary lady" is not, in fact, a commoner who shacks up with the titular Lord, but rather a wealthy Lady herself—simply one who’s run away from home and is working at the cafe on the Lord’s estate. So I guess the title’s true in fact if not in spirit. But the resulting book is utterly boring to me, and frankly, I can’t believe that romance readers or Harlequin or whatever else is still so dominated by class-conscious snobs that the hero and heroine of this book have to be on the same social “level.” Is this the 19th Century? NO.
So, yeah. I'm so glad two rich white people could manage to get married, despite horrible struggles like one of them liking to—gasp!—dye her hair pink! *rolls eyes*
Good culture clash rom-coms: please rec them to me?...more
Charming, if poorly paced, historical romance. I really liked both protagonists, which made for a nice change; the highly moral, sweet, and slightly rCharming, if poorly paced, historical romance. I really liked both protagonists, which made for a nice change; the highly moral, sweet, and slightly repressed Reverend Christy was especially a treat. I got the recommendation for this book from a list in Beyond Heaving Bosoms of the Smart Bitches’ favorite non-alpha heroes, which I am very grateful for; I only wish there were more romantic heroes of this type. As far as I’m concerned, all those caveman-types can go bludgeon themselves.
Less generally, I also wish that the whole middle section of this book, in which Christy and Anne angst a lot but very little actually happens, could have been a whole lot shorter. Far too much of the plot is shoved into the very beginning and the very end of the narrative. Nevertheless, I found this to be an above-average romance: I liked and cared about the characters, and I even enjoyed the little Victorian village Gaffney creates. If I come across any used copies of other historicals by her, I’ll probably snap them up....more
The authors’ blog, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, is consistently entertaining; this book is...almost that. I liked the discussion of the history and evoThe authors’ blog, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, is consistently entertaining; this book is...almost that. I liked the discussion of the history and evolution of the romance novel, but I wish there had been more analysis and less repetition. I also wish, well, that I could share more easily Sarah and Candy’s enjoyment of the genre. This really has nothing to do with the effectiveness of this book, but man. As much as I like the Smart Bitches blog, and as much as I enjoyed parts of this book, I still find romance novels to be consistently disappointing, if not outright bad. And, most frustrating of all, I don’t think they have to be. Is it something about the rigid requirements of the industry? This country’s persistent attitudes toward sex and gender roles? I’d like to read a book about that....more
Better than average chicklit/romance thing. It doesn’t hurt that this features some of my very favorite Awesomely Stupid Plot Devices: Whoops! Did WeBetter than average chicklit/romance thing. It doesn’t hurt that this features some of my very favorite Awesomely Stupid Plot Devices: Whoops! Did We Just Get Married? and For Various Awkward Reasons, Let’s Pretend We’re Really In A Really Real Relationship. Oh sweet cliché! You are better than the brownies I just baked, and they are, if I may say, some damn fine brownies.
Anyway, the other thing that distinguished this book from the herd was its heroine, who’s the opposite of flighty: a serious, no-nonsense CPA whose best quality is her cool, steady competence—and it’s this very quality that first makes the flaky manslut hero fall in love with her. Yes! First, how great is it to see a romantic heroine appreciated for her smarts—take that, Mr. “Kiss Away Her Competence” from First Date! Second, it’s nice having competence recognized as an attractive quality, period. Being really really good at something = super sexy. I’m always surprised this doesn’t come up more.
Graves’ hero is more standard-issue: he’s supposed to be Mr. Sexy Sex Man, but his bag of tricks seems to mostly include things like fur-lined handcuffs and whipped cream, which, a) only really vanilla people think are kinky, and b) seriously, whipped cream? Chocolate syrup? I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN THAT. Someone please explain. Personally, I don’t want my dessert foods to taste like sex, and I don’t want my sex to taste like dessert foods, either. You’re diminishing both pleasures by combining them!
Okay, that’s a big enough overshare. What I’m trying to say is that despite some flaws, this annoyed me way less than most books of its type, which from me can probably be considered a ringing endorsement. I mean…it made my bus ride pretty entertaining. Sometimes, that’s everything....more
The interwebs seem to agree that Jennifer Crusie writes above-average romance novels, so after reading several books that were very srs bsns, I decideThe interwebs seem to agree that Jennifer Crusie writes above-average romance novels, so after reading several books that were very srs bsns, I decided to finally give one a try. This started out great: liked the snarky dialogue, liked the unusualness of an older woman/younger man pairing, thought the characters all seemed agreeable enough. The plot was really thin, however, and what little there was totally goes off the rails at the end—I’m not sure I get the logic of writing a romance novel where guy and gal get together, then immediately have a big histrionic fight. That the curtains close on a kiss (god knows) might be a cliché, but sometimes it’s preferable.
I was also kind of annoyed that the B-plot (which almost dominated the teeny tiny A-plot) involved the protagonist’s best friend writing a novel in about five minutes. As someone currently trying to write one herself, I kept wanting to scream, “It’s not that EASY, yo!” Crusie, I’m sure in your heart of hearts, you will back me up on this.
This book was problematic, but it was still fun, and I’ll definitely be adding Crusie’s name to my list of potential comfort reads....more
Romance in which a 19th century cowboy travels forward in time to find true love with a 21st century female sheriff. This wasn’t awful; it was mostlyRomance in which a 19th century cowboy travels forward in time to find true love with a 21st century female sheriff. This wasn’t awful; it was mostly just bland. I got the most enjoyment out of the opening, when Sam’s terribly confused by everything modern and Taylor thinks he’s insane; as usual, once they start to fall in love, I got bored. The problem with a lot of one-shot romance novels, I guess, is that I’m just not invested enough: the characters have to be pretty damn dynamic for me to care about them gazing dopily at each other for 250 pages, especially if there’s nothing that exciting about the external tension. Here, Taylor’s trying to get reelected sheriff, but since she didn’t seem to care all that much about winning (that’s actually a plot point—that she doesn’t care about winning as long as she has Sam, which, while possibly healthy, really rubbed me the wrong way), neither did I. So, I read this for the time travel LOLs, but once those were over, there was just nothing here to keep me involved....more
Nora Roberts seems pretty awesome, often stepping in as the voice of reason whenever there’s a romance fandom kerfuffle (it happens more than you mighNora Roberts seems pretty awesome, often stepping in as the voice of reason whenever there’s a romance fandom kerfuffle (it happens more than you might think). I wish I could have felt as positive about this book, but it was just…bad. On a technical level, it was far more competent than a lot of romance novels I’ve read (and than a lot of novels, period), but it suffered from many of my typical problems with the genre.
An accident knocks 23rd century pilot Caleb Hornblower (yes, really. Am I missing some sort of winking reference to C.S. Forester or something?) back to the 20th century, where he crash-lands near a cabin belonging to Liberty Stone (yes, really). And once that happens, proximity—both physical and temporal—seems to be enough to make Libby and Caleb fall in love. There’s really nothing about their personalities or interactions that would make one think that they are right for each other, but nevertheless, fall in love they do. And that’s basically the entire plot.
I read this for the time travel, surprise surprise. I liked the idea of future!dude coming back and being perplexed by the (then-)present. But the glimpses Roberts provides of Caleb’s 23rd century society really make no sense at all, so it’s hard to relate to where he’s coming from. Worse, there never stops being creepy undertones of male sexual power and female weakness. All of Caleb and Libby’s intimate encounters involve him forcing her a little, or getting too rough for a while before deciding to try to be gentle. It’s kind of squicky, and I found it totally unsexy. This book was first published in 1989, and from my perspective in the far distant future of the 21st century, it really does seem like a long ago, primitive era—and not one I’d care to revisit....more
In a way, I really do only have myself to blame here. There’s no logical reason that I would start reading a book like this actuallyWhy, self, why? :(
In a way, I really do only have myself to blame here. There’s no logical reason that I would start reading a book like this actually expecting to like it. But I got so much giddy stupid pleasure out of the BBC’s Lost in Austen, I got greedy and went looking for more. Which means I badly need my own version of the personal opera singer from Scrubs: “MISTAKE!”
The writing here isn’t appallingly awful, but the characterization more than makes up for it. Or whatever the opposite of making up for it is. Not only does Cready butcher Austen’s characters—seriously, did she even read Pride and Prejudice? She seems to think Elizabeth Bennet has only two sisters as opposed to four (poor Mary and Kitty, forgotten again!)—she can’t even do justice to her own. Her bad guys are ridiculously, implausibly vile—idiotic caricatures. She can’t seem to decide if her hero is a proper, prudish, scholarly type or an ass-spanking sex fiend. (Not that I would be opposed to a character who’s both, but this dude rotates on a dime with no explanation. Where’s the fun in that?) And her heroine is named Flip. Flip. Need I say more?
Well, I could—unsurprisingly, I could go on ranting forever. But I’ve probably already wasted enough time on this foolishness....more
Haha. Okay. Um. So this magnificent narrative follows Ed, an American soldier in WWI, who’s injured on the battlefield and then, ha, saved from deathHaha. Okay. Um. So this magnificent narrative follows Ed, an American soldier in WWI, who’s injured on the battlefield and then, ha, saved from death by a unicorn who then, hee, scoops him up on its back and takes him to an abandoned house where it astonishes him by turning into a hot German dude, with whom Ed immediately has sex. Even though he is not gay. And then afterward, the unicorn is all “Wham bam danke man” and disappears—only to track Ed down in America once the war is over! And then they have sex some more. The end.
I read this because I was hoping it would be hilariously stupid, with maybe a side order of hot. It’s certainly the former. The prose isn’t actually that awful, but the premise is so frickin’ ridiculous that the author would need to do some pretty fancy footwork to sell it, and she doesn’t. In fact, the fact that one of her characters is a goddamn shapeshifting unicorn seems to matter very little to Caroll—it just is, so that while Ed is mildly surprised to discover that things like hot shapeshifting unicorns exist, he never even bothers to ask his lover, “So, you’re a shapeshifting unicorn. What’s up with that?”
The sex is pretty boring. There are a lot of weeping cocks and things of that ilk. Luckily, this thing’s really quite short—the perfect length if you just want something ridiculous to read/boggle at the sheer existence of. I think it would be best enjoyed read aloud with a group of friends, preferably while drunk....more
One of those books that makes me feel completely puzzled by and alienated from “kids these days,” even while I, in the rest of my life, am still strugOne of those books that makes me feel completely puzzled by and alienated from “kids these days,” even while I, in the rest of my life, am still struggling to be an adult. I didn’t buy the events of this novel for a second. Its characters exist in a world of plenty of money, little-to-no parental supervision, and a seemingly endless supply of pretentious “I only listen to bands you’ve never heard of” hipster cool. (A plot point actually centers around one character’s vintage gas station jacket with its authentic “Salvatore” name patch. *gag*) Who are these people? I just…I have really very little patience for stories that revolve entirely around poor little rich kids’ problems—which, I know, may sound hypocritical with all the Salinger love coming from my direction lately, but Salinger’s fiction is actually about something—something other than who’s hooking up with whom. Not to mention it’s, like, you know, actually well-written and stuff.
This book is almost entirely about two Hollywood-style teenagers angsting about their love lives. I really liked how queer-friendly it was, and there was the occasional good line or three, but that’s about it. Now get offa my lawn! *shakes fist*...more
This popped up on an ebook community I belong to just as I was desperately craving “culture clash”-type romantic comedies. It’s about a Texan and a JeThis popped up on an ebook community I belong to just as I was desperately craving “culture clash”-type romantic comedies. It’s about a Texan and a Jersey girl not hitting it off and then getting it on, so I thought, why not? Well, to begin with, it’s just sort of…bland. The writing’s competent, I suppose, but the people and the situation are so very, very mainstream and ordinary that a plot that’s almost 100 percent about them getting together, with next to no external conflict, isn’t very interesting at all. I mean, I know plenty of couples who are perfectly adorable, but I don’t want to read 300 pages about how they met and fell in love, either.
The one thing that could have distinguished this book, I suppose, is that it has a subplot involving Alzheimer’s. This is an important topic, certainly (sadly) relevant to a lot of people’s lives; however, it’s pretty much the last thing I want to encounter in a fluffy romantic comedy.
Anyway, all that aside, this would have passed with a “bland but okay” from me, except that as it shuffled on to the end, the slight, subliminal sexism of the main couple’s relationship suddenly made itself all too clear:
He wanted to kiss away her competence and see her trusting smile again, the joy she'd taken in feeling sexually attractive to him.
And that’s how the male protagonist went from someone I’d probably smile at absently in line at Ralph’s to someone I want to kick in the nuts. He wants to kiss away her competence? What the fucking fuck? A woman wrote this! There is something very wrong with the world when a woman would write something like that to appeal to other women.
Romances like this make me want to stay single forever. Joy....more
Andrew, proud member of the Brotherhood of Philander, a private London society for men who enjoy the company of other men (*wink wink, nudge nudge*) dAndrew, proud member of the Brotherhood of Philander, a private London society for men who enjoy the company of other men (*wink wink, nudge nudge*) decides it’s time to do his duty and provide an heir, so he enters into a marriage of convenience with Phyllida, a poor country virgin (and anonymous writer of gothic romances). They both agree to conduct the marriage on terms of absolute honesty—so Phyllida knows that Andrew likes the manmeat, and Andrew knows that Phyllida’s joy in life has so far been the pen rather than the penis. However, attraction blooms, scandal looms, and really lame-ass spies abound.
I’ve spent quite a while trying to figure out how to explain why this book didn’t work for me. I think I’m gonna just go with a list:
1. I didn’t believe it. The Regency England Herendeen creates never felt real to me. It was like a copy of a copy of a copy—like she’d read a lot of other Regency romances and tried to recreate them, rather than the actual period. The characters’ reactions and decision-making seemed bizarre to me, too—like she was trying to make them (especially Andrew) seem incredibly clever and devious, Dangerous Liaisons-style. Instead they just seemed kind of thick. And weird.
Which brings me to:
2. I didn’t like any of the characters. They’re all kind of whiny. Or dickish. Or whiny dicks. I never really cared what happened to them; instead, I kept reading out of a vague desire to discover which way their private parts would ultimately end up aligned.
3. It’s incredibly insular. Herendeen tries to stretch the plot beyond the bedroom by including all these spy shenanigans that are also, apparently, supposed to tie in in some way with the Napoleonic wars; however, it’s more complicated and confusing than suspenseful. The same can be said of the supposed danger Andrew faces of being exposed, or disgraced among the ton; since almost all the characters we meet are in some way associated with the Brotherhood, it never feels like what Andrew and Phyllida are up to is all that unusual. In Herendeen’s Regency England, everyone, it would seem, is either a) gay, b) related to a gay person and cool with it, c) married to a gay person and cool with it. I don’t buy that much grooviness in the 19th Century; I almost doubt that you’d find it today. Andrew and Phyllida are even introduced to another long-term triumvirate: husband, wife, and husband (and wife’s!) live-in lover. What’s so special or exciting about what the protagonists are doing, then? Herendeen takes all the excitement out of her premise by making it seem ordinary.
4. It’s just not that funny. For example, there’s a long sequence in which Andrew becomes convinced that his wife is actually the author of Sense and Sensibility instead of the gothic bodice-ripper she’s actually responsible for. Along with not helping to cure me of the notion that Andrew is a MORON, this subplot wasn’t amusing so much as embarrassing and cringe-worthy.
5. It ain’t all that sexy, either. There were weeping cocks. And also a lot of Andrew calling Phyllida a slut, which I guess could be construed as hot dirty talk in certain contexts, but not when he actually seems to mean it—when he’s previously insinuated that he thinks her mother is a dirty whore. And to top it all off, the husband/wife/husband’s lover threesome I was hoping for never materialized. The final arrangement seems like a sweet deal for Andrew, but not so much for his partners. Pooh.
I think I’m learning that the things I get from fanfic—notably, quality boysex—are not things I can expect to find in published, acceptable-to-read-on-the-bus books. Why? I have no idea. However, the publication of Phyllida—regardless of how little I liked it—does seem like a good sign in terms of publishers realizing that there is a market for this sort of thing. Now, if only some of my favorite fic authors could write it!...more
While Willig definitely displays some wit, this book is hampered by a dull, clichéd romantic plot. I don’t mind—and can even really like—older man/youWhile Willig definitely displays some wit, this book is hampered by a dull, clichéd romantic plot. I don’t mind—and can even really like—older man/younger woman romances, but not when the man seems like a MAN, and the woman like a silly, flighty girl. Then it’s icky. And there was a bit too much of that ickiness here (even though the characters are, I think, actually less than ten years apart in age!), coupled with a mystery that’s just not very mysterious. This is supposed to be a fun, light-hearted romp—which is the sort of thing I love! But it’s just not that clever or different, and ultimately, not that much fun....more