Anna's Reviews > Ripping the Bodice

Ripping the Bodice by Inara Lavey
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Mar 06, 12

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bookshelves: romance
Read in May, 2009

Every so often, at least once a chapter, Cassandra enters into some fantasy or dream with herself as the glamourous heroine. The rest of the cast rotates a little as the story progresses, reflecting her reality and her state of mind. Most of the time, Raphael is cast as the dashing hero, with Connor as the villain. The fantasies vary from swashbuckling pirates to a gypsy caravan to a 1960s air hostess, with flashing eyes, lean yet well-mscled torsos, and various throbbings. These fantasies are hilarious, especially with the slow rotation of characters and roles as Cassandra's perceptions shift.

I was less amused by the "romance readers are morons" theme. Since Cassandra has been reading romance novels for so many years, it's of course addled her brain, and now she expects to be romanced the way one of the alpha heroes in the novels would do. Because the type of women who read romance novels are clearly prone to believing they'll be carried off by Fabio the pirate one day, right? Seriously, we get enough flack from people outside the genre insulting our intelligence and assuming we must have issues dealing with the reality of actual relationships. I don't need to see it coming from a romance novel, presumably marketed at the very same people it insults with these kinds of assumptions. Initially I liked the idea of a main character given to daydreams at any given moment, since I think a lot of people can relate to that, but when it serves to make her flaky and suffering from "romance brain," I had to grit my teeth.

I spent awhile debating whether or not I liked the shifts from first person to third person. Most of the story is from Cassandra's perspective, in chocolate-addicted first person. The fantasies are told in third person, which makes sense to me, but occasionally the book would flip to someone else's point of view (notably Val or Connor), which messed with my head a little. If the story needs more than one point of view character, that's cool, but the first to third narration shift took some adjustment every time it happened.

Something that isn't the fault of the author but needs to be mentioned is the editing. It's pretty bad. The italics of the fantasy scenes flickered in and out, there were numerous typos, and some of the sentences had me reading over two or three times to figure out what it meant to say. Things like "You're not even giving him a second chance, which it sounds like he gave you about ten times over" or "he stepped inside and promptly tripped on a black velvet skirt trailing from the door into the room and what had kept the door from shutting all the way in the first place." Yes, at a second read-through I can figure out what's going on, but this is supposed to be a professional offering. One would think the editor would be able to catch at least as many of the bugs as I did, since this is what they're being paid to do.

The "romance readers are idiots" theme bothered me enough I almost gave Ripping the Bodice 2 stars, but the fact the book was really, honestly funny saved it. I even read a couple of lines out loud to my husband, who snorted in appreciation. The female characters fall into stereotype zones sometimes, but the male characters were well handled, and while it's written so the reader is rooting for one of the men over the other, neither turns out to be a bad guy.

If the idea of a dim-witted romance reader who can no longer tell a real man from a fantasy man doesn't bother you, you'll probably find this a fun read. If just reading about my gritted teeth turned you off, though, be ye warned.

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Dana Anna, thank you so much for the very thoughtful review! Cassandra, quite frankly, was based on my twenty-something self...and yeah, I had issues back then differentiating between real men from the heroes in the books I read...and what would actually be a good choice for me. Hence my interesting love life. :-) Yeah, I grew up on the classic bodice rippers... No offense intended towards romance readers since I remain one of 'em, so I'm quite sorry that attitude came across in the book. Oh yeah, Inara Lavey is my pen name. :-)

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