Friday, November 17, 2006

Wendy Gets On Her Feminist High Horse

Let's get this out of the way up front - KristieJ liked this book. So if you want to read a favorable review go stop on by. Me, I spent the whole novel wanting to shoot the heroine - then the ending pushed Wendy's Big Feminist Hot Button. I have to rant about it somewhere, so you'll have to click and drag if you want to read the Big Massive Spoiler.

The Basics: Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare, book 2 in her I-Team romantic suspense series.

The Plot: Tessa Novak escapes poverty to become a respected investigative reporter. One night, desperate for a fix, she goes into a gas station to buy coffee. A young Mexican girl comes running in, barely clothed, begging for help in Spanish. Before Tessa can do anything, a car pulls up, she sees an arm clad in black leather and the girl is gunned down. Tessa starts to investigate and runs afoul of our hero, Julian Darcangelo, who is an undercover FBI agent working to bring a sex trafficker down.

The Good: Parts of the ending are well done and Clare can write.

The Ugly: Noticed I just skipped the "Bad" section. The main problem here is that I spent the whole novel wondering what the eff Julian saw in Tessa Novak, Girl Reporter. Let's list her moments of idiocy shall we?
  • All she saw of the murderer was his arm in black leather. When she spies Julian at the crime scene, wearing a black leather jacket, she immediately deduces he's the killer! Way to go Nancy Drew. Makes you wonder what she would have thought if a biker gang had driven by.
  • During her first confrontation with Julian (she still thinks he's a killer mind you), he has to kiss her to shut her up. What does she do? Scream? Try to pull away? Knee him in the groin? No, she melts in his arms! Shoot her Julian! Shoot her now!
  • She owns a gun, has a permit to carry it concealed, has no flippin' clue how to use it. Julian has to teach her.
  • She writes a first person article detailing the fact that she witnessed the murder. Golly gee, why are the cops so mad at her? I mean, all she did was reveal all the tiny details about the crime scene, splash her byline everywhere, and basically tells the bad guys that she witnessed the murder, everything she knows, what her name is, and where she works. Cops are funny like that - getting upset over the littlest things!
  • Her and Julian have unprotected sex repeatedly even though they both had horrible childhoods. Julian saw women abused repeatedly by his father and Tessa's mother was 14 when she had her. Don't you think they'd both be a bit anal retentive about birth control? But no! After sex Tessa muses: "And what if you end up pregnant because of tonight? Well, then, she'd have Julian's baby." Gag, Puke, Gag.
But all that isn't what finally pushed me over the edge. Nope. It was the identity of one of the villains. Besides the fact that it was no brain teaser (Clare doesn't give the reader enough options when it comes to suspects) this is what really pissed me off:

{spoiler start} The villain is naturally Julian's former, skanky lover. You know, the sexually experienced, aggressive woman. Because any woman who enjoys sex has to be the traitorous ho in a romance novel. And Tessa? Well she has to be the heroine because she's only had one sexual experience prior to Julian and it was so awful. I mean, she's innocent and sweet and girly - so the hero has to fall in love with her and protect her from her own stupidity. Swear to God this shit gets on my last nerve! {spoiler end}

Final Grade: D+. The writing is good, but damn almost everything about this book annoyed the crap out of me.


Maili said...

LOL! I generally avoid romantic suspense novels that feature heroines as journalists, photojournalists, spies, detectives or bodyguards because there seems to be an invisible law for them to be card-carrying members of the TSTL club.

I think it's to do with keeping heroines "feminine". She can't handle a gun, can't bear to hurt anyone - not even a baddie who's set to make her swim with the fishes, can't stop herself from "melting" when her prime suspect snogs the hell out of her, and blah blah. It's the law!

Kristie (J) said...

LOL - One person's treasure is another person's junk. I can see your points *g* but they didn't bother me. One thing I do find interesting though (and keep in mind I type this with a grin on my face) is that a few reviewers now have mentioned what a TSTL move it is when she kisses him thinking he's a criminal, yet in Anne Stuart's lastest the heroine HAS SEX with a guy she thinks is about to KILL her, yet that doesn't seem to bother many people nearly as much. I find that a bit amusing. FWIW - for me, being completely aware that this is fiction and not real life :) neither bothered me.

Meghan said...

I'm with you on this one. I thought Clare completely missed the point. That severely disappointed me because her past few books were so darn good.

Tara Marie said...

Yikes, Wendy tell us what you really think--LOL.

This one's sitting on my TBR pile, it's probably going to languish there for a while--oh, well.

The heroine in her first RS had some TSTL moments.

Wendy said...

You should read it. You have to be the tie-breaker between me and Kristie LOL

Now see, the Anne Stuart heroine would have annoyed me too. I'm pretty consistent on crap that bugs the hell out of me. You see this sort of thing in paranormals a lot. The heroine thinks the hero is the werewolf murdering and dismembering people. Does she stock up on silver bullets? Heavens no! She has crazy, wild, monkey-sex with him! Gee, that makes perfect sense - NOT!!!!

I have most of Clare's historicals in my TBR, so I'm going to be giving her another shot.

Karen Scott said...

I'm still torn about heroines having unprotected sex, I just read a couple of Linda Howard books where the main characters had unprotected umpteen times, but my mind kinda glazed over it likle it didn't happen. ISN'T IT AMAZING WHAT YOU'LL FORGIVE WHEN YOU LOVE A WRITER?

Sorry for shouting but I couldn't be arsed re-writing that last sentence. (G)

Wendy said...

Normally I forgive the unprotected sex thing - unless the writer addresses it. I mean, I just "pretend" that the characters went through the whole condom thing.

But in this case, Clare addresses the fact that they did it unprotected, couple that with the heroine's HORRIBLE childhood (Mommy was only 14, they lived in poverty). I just found it hard to believe someone from that kind of background could be so lax on birth control. Heck, someone with that background should probably be volunteering at Planned Parenthood.....

limecello said...

Wendy- re the black jacket- *snort* and I KNOW. Oh em gee I wanted to club her over the head. The kiss was cheesy too. If he had punched her out it would have shut her up just as effectively. Only Julian's a nice guy. [And when he disarmed her, I did hope he'd break a finger. It'd be so easy - just turn the gun, like he was disarming her... then yank down. Bam. Broken finger. Easy peasy.]
... and yes. I admit it. I was hoping she'd shoot herself with her own gun. I can't even think about the article she wrote. It's making my blood pressure go up.
Your spoiler didn't bother me as much as it did you.
But the Miranda rights? I need a PSA that ... tells people when they get read their rights. I almost hope all these authors and writers writing these things incorrectly get arrested, and spill their guts, and realize their mistakes. THANKS FOR PUTTING PEOPLE IN PRISON, YOU ASSHATS BECAUSE YOU'RE TEACHING PEOPLE THE LAW INCORRECTLY. That bugged me. And the fact that Julian does aikido? I mean, ok, martial arts = hot, and the woo woo Eastern mysticism stuff. But aikido? Really? Could she possibly have picked a *less fitting* practice?
Then... I skimmed - but I think he killed someone by punching them in the face? [Too bad he didn't do that to Tessa.] But no - you can't kill someone like that [well, I've never tried, but I know it's VERY difficult]. Unless you do it at an angle and hard enough to push their facial bones [which are mostly cartilage anyway] up into their brain. In fact, what would be the "easiest" way to kill someone by hitting them in the face [not head] - would be breaking their nose, then jamming the slivers up into their brain. I mean, it's a complicated, precise endeavor.
I was also hoping Tessa would get shot a few times when going into gang territory. That I did not admire. And traipsing around the crime scene. So TSTL. I was so angry I wanted to hit something. Actually, I did hit some stuff. Then I had to do some reading therapy and re-skimmed most of another book.
I don't know if I read this following SM's book so my suspended belief was 150% gone. But Dear. God.
Also even the beginning annoyed me. Someone runs in all frantic and tells you to call the police. What's your first reaction? "Huh? Why?" [Granted - a lot of people are dumb. But, she's a reporter, on the cop beat. Shouldn't she have *slightly* better reaction time?] And of course... she's not shot. And the leather jacket. I can't even think about it. My head is hurting.
For serious - this book took advantage of the saying "God protects the young and the stupid." And Tessa sure as hell wasn't one of the young.
The unprotected sex did bother me too. Hello Tessa's background? And *Julian's*? Uh - ok I'm not even going to say it it's so disgusting. But... hello - you think they'd be fanatical about birth control.
... I want those however many hours of my life back.