Rachel (BAVR)'s Reviews > Heartstrings and Diamond Rings

Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves
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Sweet mother Mary, now I remember why I typically won't touch contemporaries with a ten-foot pole these days. My generation is really taking a beating in the self-worth department, if this book is any indication. I remember being bombarded with cheesy "Girl power!" testimonials and Oprah telling me I don't need a man to be happy in my youth.

Far be it from me to call the Spice Girls liars, but if Jane Graves says so ...

Heartstrings and Diamonds Rings is the story of dried-up spinster - I mean, "lonely" thirty-something Alison Carter, who wants to get married so much that she'd probably consider a potted plant to get the job done. Alison, like all the heroines in contemporary romancelandia, is unlucky in love. All she wants to do is find her soulmate and get married, pronto, then make gaggles of snotty children and move into a house with a pretty white picket fence. Why is life SO HARD? The men she dates are pretty much like, "Uh, Alison, your desperation is showing. It's actually blanketing you and displaying flashing lights making out the word SPINSTER in place of your face. I think maybe it would be best if I dated a woman who wasn't already checking my blood type." So Alison, dumped once again, cries and moans about how undesirable and lonely she is to her - wait for it - cats. (I feel like I'm in the cliche machine, and it's been set to spin cycle.) Finally, after all kinds of woe-is-me angsting, Alison decides to take matters into her own desperate, dried-up hands ... by hiring a match-maker. Brandon Scott is an unsuccessful home-flipper (or something along those lines) who's running his deceased grammy's matchmaking business to make a quick fortune. When Alison walks into Brandon's office and spills her desperation all over him, he promises to find her the perfect match. Unfortunately, Brandon is about as good at matchmaking as Alison is at deflecting crazy cat lady accusations. As expected, Brandon sets her up on several disastrous dates, each one worse than the last. And then Alison starts to wonder if her inept matchmaker is the man to fill the hole in her ... heart.

Would it have been so hard for Graves to write Alison as anything other than a boy-crazy empty shell? At first, I thought that the cat lady implications, the mental breakdowns over bad dates, and the silly talk about NEEDING to get married because being unmarried is the worst thing ever were a joke. You know, like Graves was parodying the tropes that show up in poorly written romance. But then, to my horror, I realized that Alison is supposed to be taken seriously. Brandon even points out her creepy desperation at one point, and it ends up getting glossed over, apparently because Alison is just SO adorable or something. I don't know. This type of story just isn't my cup of tea. The humor is a little too cutesy, and the unintentional cat lady jokes made me angry. I have cats, too, but Alison's cats are used as a plot device to emphasize her spinsterhood. Stupid. Brandon, for his part, seems like a decent enough guy. I wouldn't let him anywhere near my business, considering that he crashed and burned with the housing market and has the matchmaking senses of a drunk sailor. Still, he genuinely likes Alison even though she's about 95% cray-cray, and I have to respect a guy for that.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Karla (new)

Karla And the cover has cliche girly leg action too. Wow.

I love your shelves, BTW. :D

Rachel (BAVR) I'm pretty sure this was on sale when I bought it. That and the male matchmaker have to be the reasons I but myself through this.

Haha! My shelves are so mean, yet they make me feel so happy inside. :o)

message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Aiiieeee! *runs away screaming* How did you manage to survive with your higher faculties intact?!

And for the love of cheese (no pun intended -- I love dairy food beyond reason), just because a woman is 30 & unmarried & loves animals doesn't make her a freak. *rolls eyes*

Rachel (BAVR) I think I was waiting to figure out if the whole thing was a big joke. Sadly, the joke was on me.

And yes, I was flabbergasted by the treatment of the heroine. Why, of course she can't be well-adjusted and a complete person with all those CATS and no man to remind her she's a lady. *grrr* DAMN YOU, JANE GRAVES!

message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Painting unmarried 30-somethings in that light is insulting on so many levels. But what's even worse is that so many women readers either don't notice or don't give a hoot. WTF?! I don't want all my heroines to be obnoxiously sexed-up femme fatale Anita Blake types, but come on. That's just ridiculous.

message 6: by Karla (new)

Karla I love how the heroines' love for animals is used to illustrate how "empty" and "pathetic" they are instead of, you know, how selfless and giving they might be. I'd think that'd be a WORTHY TRAIT instead of something that needs to be "fixed."


message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Amen to that! *grinds teeth* Newsflash, authors: not all of us are wired with the same mothering instincts & prefer to lavish our love on animals instead of babies.

Rachel (BAVR) I agree with everything you two are saying. It's amazing that such a stupid book could inspire an intelligent conversation. :)

I don't get this focus on picking on the 30-somethings. Due to life experience, these women could be SO interesting, but instead they're painted as boring, desperate shrews. "Biological clocks" or not, Babies Ever After doesn't always have to be the focus. Can't a girl have her cats and be happy?

message 9: by Karla (new)

Karla It'd be awesome to have the Babies Ever After not be the focus once in awhile. In fact, in a historical it would be refreshing to have a heroine at least have the thought, "Why would I want children? Childbirth has killed some of my friends and relatives!" You know, it just might be one of the reasons for some of those "spinsters." Not that they were "ugly" or couldn't snag herself a man. Might have been a deliberate choice. I know I'd have rather died one than end up 1 of a number of tombstones next to some old fart who outlived multiple wives.

Rachel (BAVR) Yes! It's always the hero whining about how he doesn't want any "brats" in HRs. Let's turn that trope on its head, authors! (Too bad none of them are reading this, but just in case ...) I'll totally buy your book if you do. :)

message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I totally agree with you both. We issue this challenge, authors! *shakes fist*

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