Ok, this is certainly not the kind of book I read, much less one I'd normally want to comment on - I picked it up at the airport, for my flight to theOk, this is certainly not the kind of book I read, much less one I'd normally want to comment on - I picked it up at the airport, for my flight to the Uk to see family. I've read one or two other Erica James novels, all pretty similar but pleasant in a mild, good-natured slightly too sugary and simplistic way. I'd read these books, usually at airports or planes or trains or, maybe, sunbathing on holiday - then promptly forget all about them. Period.
But this one is staying with me -- and annoying me. Not because it's especially bad or even worse than any other book of is sort (it isn't -- they're all alike) but because the absurd, stranding suspense of disbelief soap opera cliches, one piled atop the other relentlessly, simply got to be too much, to the point that I actually found myself, astounded, flipping pages as I scanned as quickly as possibly to the end of the story in a useless attempt to see if, at some point, the author would redeem herself. And nope, she never did.
Every character is cliche, as is every single storyline, bar none. Not only cliches -- annoying, unpleasant cliches. Including the absurd fake names.
The lonely, alone Orphan Annie-Katie (complete with "hated" flame-red hair -- hated though secretly made "special" by it! Oh yes, because red-haired people are Special!!) is called by a kindly, sympathetic solicitor who has a bombshell to drop - one that will, of course, save Cinderella from doom and loom. Our Plucky Heroine has a Silly Job (of course), a Silly Boyfriend (of course), thus 2 easily discarded things as soon as her life turns around - she also has a Best Friend who mouths every Best Friend Bteween Bookcovers cliche known to man, and a Zanny Gay Friend, yay! Katie's backstory is also straight out of Cliche Land: Larger Than Life Mom (who had weight problems! Who loved gardens!) dies in a car accident and so patient, steadfast and true that it smacks of pastiche Dad knew all about his wife's indiscretion (to put it mildly) but was A-Ok with it all because, y'know, HE LOVED HER!! And y'know: love means never having to say you're sorry ... It also, apparently, means never having to expect others to say they're sorry too!! Love, as per Erica James' life philosophy, is seemingly an emotion that demands no morality, no self-discipline, no control and no observance of boundaries: it is a feeling that allows you to overlook every failing in the other person - thus never forcing the other person to finally f-g grow up.
So Snappy Mom leaves Orphan Annie -sorry- Katie! a letter detailing, you name it, that nothing is as it seemed to be. And when Katie The Redhead thoughtlessly, ruthlessly, rudely and incredibly selfishly barges into her new family unannounced, all mayhem breaks loose -- to the tune of ever-more cliches. So many that just when you thought you'd heard the last one, James Rams you in with yet another! The all-seeing, all-encompassing Maggie Smith ripoff Matriarch, a woman who dares to tell another woman she has no right to feel indignation or moral disgust at her husband's, the Mariarch's son's, infantile betrayal. Because, as we said earlier loves means... yeah, yay, yep. One gets the drift. If you truly, really, absolutely love him ... Then we have the ditzy with a heart of gold character who lost all interest in sex, and is ready to embrace her dead husband's mistress as her new BFF (yep, she loved him all right!). This woman was so downright stupid I wanted to reap into the book pages and shake her till her teeth rattled. And the philandering husband (with a name and last name straight out of a 60s Harlequin) all Chianti-loving and silver-haired, as cardboard as a UPS container, whom we are led to believe has been brilliantly successful for 30-odd years and yet just as his wife and kids discover his long-ago "mistake" (and she did arrive with Red Hair!) has zero self-control to the point that he immediately in one full scoop gets into bed with his dead brother's mistress. Now THAT 's clever! But it gets worse - because the story is presented as if this were an entirely understandable development, as if his wife's horror and rage at this news were the problem -- not the lies and betrayal.
Ok - I'm not going to add anything more because 1) it's not worth it, 2) it makes me too annoyed and 3) I'm hungry...
Although, considering that the great majority of readers here has given it prett high reviews, it does at least show that this writer has her audience down pat. And we'll, good for her ... I guess I'm just not the intended audience.
This makes it very clear why I will thankfully return to my usual reading, now....more