Jane Stewart's Reviews > Written on Your Skin

Written on Your Skin by Meredith Duran
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's review
Feb 04, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: historical-romance

90% of the book felt like filler - ponderings, and descriptions. Plot developments not shown. Weak vague dialogue.

Mina’s stepfather Collins was doing something illegal in Hong Kong. Phin was working undercover to catch Collins. Someone poisoned Phin’s drink and he collapsed. Mina took him to a room to recover and helped him escape. Phin worked for Ridland at that time. Four years later Collins escaped British authorities. Ridland imprisons Mina in a locked hotel room thinking she can help him catch Collins. She escapes Ridland and wants Phin to help her find her mother. Mina believes Collins kidnapped her mother.

This is the kind of book that makes me think I am not a good reader. I had a terrible time concentrating. It was hard to read, hard to pay attention, hard to know what was going on. Maybe a different kind of mind can handle this writing style. I cannot. So many things were vague. I don’t know what happened to Collins, Mina, or her mother during the four years. Who arrested Collins and for what. How did he escape and from where and why. Mina says she liked Phin, but we never saw how they met or why she liked him. There were not enough events and actions to develop the plot. For example, Phin and Mina are on a train. Just before they get off, they suspect a man is following them because he is well dressed. So Phin presses a nerve causing the man to fall unconscious just as he and Mina leave the train. Nothing else happens regarding that man. He was never in the story before or after the train. We are never told if he was working for someone, was following them, or anything else the man did afterwards. It felt like an unrelated and isolated event to show that Phin knew how to make a man unconscious. Another example, Mina is imprisoned in a hotel room. We are told Ridland imprisoned her, but we never saw the conversation or action that put her there. The next thing you know she is out of the room. We don’t see her leaving the room. The next scene has her talking with Phin saying her servant is missing. She believes Phin may know something about it. I don’t know how she found Phin, or got to him, or if he was the one who came to her. The events are choppy, no flow.

The conversations are too drawn out with too much pondering between comments. For example on page 221 Phin tells Mina they must stay the night at the inn. She then ponders for TWO PAGES thinking about the following before she says anything. She thinks about the size of the bed, Phin’s appearance and qualities, a former guy she knew and had sex with, suffragettes, free love, contraception, sex outside of marriage, divorce is a sin, fallen women, and what Phin might teach her about sex. Then she says “Well, I suppose we are here for the night, then.” Soon after this book I was reading a John Grisham book and a Lisa Kleypas book. Their styles are enjoyable and easy to read. Neither one of them drew out conversations this way. Their style is the following: A says something. B “thinks” (maybe 1 or 2 sentences of thought, if any) and then B “says” ... These authors do not use TWO PAGES of pondering before B responds to A. Not all conversations in “Written On Your Skin” are interrupted as badly as this. But far too many of them have paragraphs of ponderings that distract from the conversation. I lose interest.

During the entire book, nothing was interesting. I kept reading or trying to read hoping something good would come. It didn’t. The dialogue between Mina and Phin was vague. She was either playing mind games or just sounding illogical. The sex scenes did nothing for me. I felt the need to skim.

Story length: 357 pages. Swearing language: moderate, including religious swear words. Sexual language: strong. Number of sex scenes: 3. Estimated number of sex scene pages: 23. Setting: 1880 Hong Kong and 1884 England. Copyright: 2009. Genre: historical romance.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 4, 2012 – Shelved
February 4, 2012 – Shelved as: historical-romance
February 4, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by Lady Wesley (new) - added it

Lady Wesley Thanks so much for making me feel that I too am not a "bad reader." I've read two Duran books, and I think that will be all. I'm constantly flipping back to see where the conversation left off before the interminable paragraphs of reflection.

I always enjoy your straight forward reviews.

message 2: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Lady Wesley wrote: "Thanks so much for making me feel that I too am not a "bad reader.".."

Oh thank you. I too am glad to hear I’m not alone with the feeling of being a “bad reader.” You made me feel better. And thanks for the comment :-)

message 3: by Kristen (new)

Kristen You explained your issues with this book wonderfully, Jane. I don't have time to waste on these type of books. I'll be avoiding this one.

message 4: by Baba (new)

Baba  Great review, Jane!

message 5: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle [Helen Geek] Lovely review. I normally like Duran. I haven't read this one, but have it marked, but may take it off.
Question: Have you read other books by this author?
Love the feedback and honesty!

message 6: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Thank you Kristen & Baba :-)

message 7: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Michelle wrote: "Lovely review. Have you read other books by this author?"

I read one other book by Duran, The Duke of Shadows http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... I read it more than 2 years ago, and I don’t remember if there was this much pondering - at least I didn’t write about it back then. I gave it 2 stars. I didn’t like the irrational heroine. And, some of the things that happened were not logical enough. I figure two books is enough. I’m giving up on this author.

Thank you for your comment Michelle :-)

message 8: by Carrie (new)

Carrie I'm trying to get through Duke of Shadows right now. I've never read one by her before. In Duke of Shadows, the writing feels quite good, and the descriptions of India wonderful. However, I'm not liking that the H/h are separated for much of the book and I think the villain is overwritten. But honestly, it's not a bad book, just not my style, I think.

message 9: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Carrie wrote: "I'm trying to get through Duke of Shadows right now."

Oh good. I’ll be watching for your review. It’s been a while since I read it, but I think there were more problems in the later parts of the book. Can’t remember.

message 10: by Carrie (new)

Carrie I've put it aside for now. ;-) I didn't need the angsty story at the moment.

message 11: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Carrie wrote: "I've put it aside for now. ;-) I didn't need the angsty story at the moment."

Oh! I know that feeling. If you ever finish it, send me a note, if you remember, ok? I had a note to myself to periodically check your status to see when you finish it. So, I'll throw that away. Anyway, I'm still waiting for life to settle down a little so I can spend fun time reading friends reviews' again - something I miss.

message 12: by Anna (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna Jane, I must tell you that I've deciphered that "too much pondering" for you, maybe ok for me. I love Meredith's Duran books because I love to see how different minds work (maybe that's why studied Psychology).
So pondering, to me, it's ok, in fact I enjoy it: but that's me, a pondering woman myself.

message 13: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Anna wrote: "Jane, I must tell you that I've deciphered that "too much pondering" for you, maybe ok for me."

You might have something there Anna. My background is in accounting. It’s always good to learn what people like. I figure there must be many who like her books, because her publisher likes them. Thank you for giving me some ideas “to ponder.” ;)

message 14: by MuchAdo (new)

MuchAdo I agree with your review 100%. I can't stand Duran's writing style. I don't think it has anything to do with 'pondering' as such (I'm a pondering woman myself -I teach cultural studies and literary criticism). It is that her 'ponderings' think they are more serious than they really are. In the end one feels one's read something utterly trivial but pompously written, posing as profound insight. And plotting a book seems to be entirely beyond her abilities.

message 15: by Plethora (new)

Plethora If there's a club of anti-Meredith Durans forming, count me in. I've read many awful writers in my life but none as annoyingly awful as she.

message 16: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Stewart Thanks MuchAdo and Plethora :-)

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