I check up on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog occasionally, so I decided to grab the book and give it a read even if I was a little late to the p...moreI check up on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog occasionally, so I decided to grab the book and give it a read even if I was a little late to the party. I should have written this review sooner after reading, when the details were fresh in my mind. It's too late for that now, unfortunately, so this will be a very general review.
It was never clear to me whether this book was trying to present romance novels as a serious literary interest or to mock some of the more over-used tropes of the genre. Perhaps it was both.
It's not bad to poke fun at something we love. And just because something is mockable doesn't mean it can't also be taken seriously. However, if you want to present something for serious consideration, then it is probably best to keep the mocking to a minimum. This book didn't do that and felt disjointed because of it. The tone switches were abrupt, arbitrary, and often confusing.
That said, the parts of the book that mocked romance tropes ranged from chuckle-worthy to hilarious. (One part nearly had me in tears from laughing.) People who don't lurk around romance review blogs might miss some of the in-jokes, but just about any romance reader will be able to recognize and appreciate the stereotypes and tropes discussed. The sections of literary criticism and analysis were sometimes insightful and always interesting.
If this one book had been split into two, both would have been enjoyable for different reasons. Smashed together as it was, the authors almost seemed liked they were undermining themselves--but they were having a great time doing so.
I want to mention one final criticism, though not of the book itself. The formatting for the ebook was absolutely terrible. The book used quite a few tables, which were all practically unreadable, and all of the illustrations were too small to view. I only mention this because if you are interested in picking this one up, I would suggest going with a hard copy--especially since the ebook price was relatively high.(less)
**spoiler alert** This review is going to spoil quite a bit of the book because I can't rant properly without spoilers.
I hated this book, which really...more**spoiler alert** This review is going to spoil quite a bit of the book because I can't rant properly without spoilers.
I hated this book, which really surprised me because I started reading Garwood's historical romances 20 years ago and still go back to reread some of them. This book, though, good grief is it L-A-Z-Y.
First, we begin with a huge exposition dump as our heroine, Ellie, ponders her entire life story while jogging. During this we learn that her main (turns out, only) character flaw is that she's clumsy. Joy. Haven't heard that before. The beautiful, kind, moral, inhumanly brilliant, size 6 with large breasts, trauma surgeon is clumsy. And yet, not once through the entire book does Ellie stumble, bump into tables, or drop anything, even while confronting the bad guys.
Second, the dialog is often clunky enough to take me right out of the book. The heroine is prone to saying "It's all good," which I haven't heard unironically in years. And Ellie's father, a man from South Carolina, offers his daughter "iced sweet tea." No. Just no. Those are nitpicky, yes, but they led to much face palming.
The villains are completely phoned in and dispensed with neatly within a chapter or two. And I never once felt like I knew anything about the hero. So much so, that after finishing the book only yesterday, I can't remember his name.
What I do remember is that he told Ellie that they were going to get married. Not asked. Just unapologetically told. Twice. When he told her they were going out on a date, it came off as being charming enough. But the "marriage proposal" did not. It was incredibly creepy and stupid. And of course, our modern day, independent heroine just swooned over it.
Finally, the tacked-on resolution to her sister's story was a waste of paper, and had the same creepy male-dominance vibe as the hero's proposal.
I've never liked Garwood's contemporaries as much as her historicals, but "The Ideal Man" reads like bad harlequin.
Oh, and I have to say that the plot summary on the book jacket contained 2 factual errors in the description. I'm not sure how much that matters other than that these errors make the book sound like it will be a suspense thriller when it is decidedly not.(less)