Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wendy Fails At Fangirl

Keishon's TBR Challenge is coming up next week, and in preparation for it, I thought it would be fun to read one of the few Maggie Osborne novels I still have buried in my TBR. For those of you new around here, I lurve me some Maggie Osborne. I have four books by her in the Bat Cave Keeper Stash, and even two other books that I wasn't wild about (for the record: Shotgun Wedding and A Stranger's Wife) still had enough juice for me to not only read them all the way through, but they also "stuck" with me for a while. Well, the unthinkable happened yesterday. The unimaginable. A sure sign of the apocalypse if ever there was one....

I DNF'ed a Maggie Osborne novel.

The book in question is Silver Lining, and yes, I know this lands me in the minority. Azteclady loved this book. It got a very favorable review over at TRR. AAR gave it a B. Even Mrs. Giggles slapped it with a rating of 76. Out of all of these examples, I find myself agreeing a lot with what Mrs. G and AAR (Blythe handled the reviewing duties here) had to say. But, let me explain for myself....

The story opens with the heroine nursing a mining camp through a raging case of the pox. She's had it before, and has heard you "can't get it twice" - therefore sticks around to play nursemaid. The camp has gone from boom to bust thanks to the epidemic, so when the men recover they're downright grateful to her. They offer her anything her heart desires and in a moment of rashness she blurts out that she wants a baby. Not some poor little orphan child but her own baby.

I've long said that in order to keep from going insane, authors really shouldn't "think" of readers while writing a book. Frankly no book in universally loved, you can't please everybody, and authors should just concentrate on writing the best book that they can. In the romance world, I think all the author really needs to do is deliver the happy ending. Readers are going to bring their own personal baggage into any book they read, and authors have no control over that - so why should they make themselves crazy over it?

The whole "No thank you, I want my own baby" scenario is one that bugs me. I have friends who were adopted. I have friends who have adopted. My own niece is adopted. I have baggage. Loads of it. Does my family love my niece any less because she didn't go swimming around in our gene pool? Absolutely frickin' not! We love her just as much as my nephew (a product of said gene pool). She's smart. She's cute. She loves to read. That kid is the bee's knees. Do my friends with adopted children love them any less? Absolutely frickin' not! I think I can safely say that each and every one of them would lay down and die for their children. Period. They would do anything to protect them. Period. So yeah, baggage.

Moving on, the heroine doesn't want a husband, she just wants the baby. But the preacher can't abide with fornication so the hero, despite being engaged, draws the short straw and is forcibly wed to the heroine. Here's the thing. Heroine doesn't want a husband. Hero doesn't want to marry heroine. Yet they still stand before the preacher and say "I Do." Huh? Is it just me, or does this make no sense? They're adults. Nobody is pointing a gun at them. Why not just say, "I don't" and walk away? Oh yeah, because then we'd have no novel.

Anyway, then of course the hero takes the heroine back to his parents' ranch and the heroine gets a warm reception. Then the chick the hero was supposed to marry shows up and complications ensue. Chick #2 (or maybe she's #1 since she was engaged to the hero after all) assumes The Evil Other Woman role and that's where I completely lose interest. The older I get, the less patience I have for The Evil Other Woman trope. Plus it begs the question, what the heck did the hero see in that chick to begin with if she's so frackin' vile? It doesn't say a whole lot for his intelligence now, does it?

And that, as they say, was that. I skipped ahead to the final few chapters, skimmed those, and called it a day. So....

Final Grade = DNF

A Maggie Osborne book. Sigh. I never thought this day would come. In the meantime, I've yanked another book out my TBR to meet Keishon's challenge. Hopefully I'll have better luck with it.

26 comments:

BevBB said...

Just got one question: time, place, setting?

Okay, maybe that's technically three, but if you say Western, I'm throwing something at you through cyberspace. ;-) It's just that Western covers a lot of territory and an itty-bitty time period but mining camp could be anything actually. So, I admit, I'm curious.

And I'm still chewing on that post from yesterday about churches. And Westerns. I may do my own post on that 'cause it's brought up some issues I didn't even realize I had. Thank you very much. ;-)

Wendy said...

Bev: The author never comes and says - and I don't know if she dropped clues later on to narrow it down more - but 19th century, Colorado (Denver is mentioned), and the mining operation is for gold. The heroine is panning for it in the river and not having any luck when the epidemic breaks out.

Elizabeth said...

I'm pretty sure that if I had a fiance who came back from a mining camp married to someone else and tried to explain that he "drew the short straw" and had no choice, I'd act like an Evil Other Woman, too.

Also, does it mean smallpox? Because "pox," to me, means syphilis.

Wendy said...

Elizabeth: It's...complicated. Certainly, I understood her being upset with the hero and heroine. Totally understandable. But there's a development in the story that casts her character in a unfavorable light, and she pretty much becomes the Standard One Dimensional Spoiled Princess Villainess. Any sympathy I felt for the girl was extremely fleeting.

Yeah, the way the author described the symptoms "pox" = smallpox.

Elizabeth said...

If it WERE syphilis (which was quite likely to rage through mining camps, I expect) that would be a VERY interesting novel, wouldn't it?

bbmedos said...

Thanks, Wendy. That helps. ;-)

You know, my mind immediately went to STDs, too. Never even thought of smallpox. Which makes absolutely no sense knowing this was a mainstream romance.

Huh.

Okay, whilst I'm still shaking my head over that one - but you know, maybe it was the mention of mining camps that primed us up for that - I have to say that the set-up of the "arranged marriage" here really is pushing it all the way around.

See, this is why I have so much trouble with Westerns and their . Even when I like the plot type in general, there's always a catch.

AnimeJune said...

I - I think I remember this novel. I didn't read it, but I catalogued while I worked as a materials processing assistant for my university library. It was a hardcover, and I'll admit I read the dust jacket and the first couple of pages.

Oh - and the Evil Ex, I hate those. I think some authors don't like making the ex or the former love interest of the hero very likeable or good because I think they don't want to imply the hero is responsible for a broken relationship. If the ex is a whore or a bitch - well then, it's HER fault the romance fell apart, not thanks to the hero's problems or (gasp!) flaws.

Same thing with widows/widowers - it gives them the experience of a previous relationship without the messiness of a divorce/breakup.

That's one of the reasons I love Mary Balogh - often, her Other Men and Other Women get books of their own, so they're not Evol Incarnate.

Amy said...

Y'know, I do like the evil Other Woman, and lurve me some evil stepmothers or mothers-in-law, but I can see what Anime June means. It's a much better...um, character study?...of the hero if you can paint his ex in a better light. And from there just show why that relationship didn't work out versus the current one with the heroine.

Wendy said...

Elizabeth: LOLOLOLOL - well it certainly would have been different!

Bev: There was a lot of talk of "honor" on the hero's part. He married the heroine because of his "honor." Of course that begs the question of where was his "honor" in regards to his engagement?

Re: the mining camp. This is where it's sorta weird. It is a camp. Prospecters are living in tents, cooking over camp fires etc. But there's some sort of town near by (which is described as deserted), and the make-shift hospital during the epidemic is a school house.

AnimeJune said: well then, it's HER fault the romance fell apart, not thanks to the hero's problems or (gasp!) flaws.

Yeah, this. It would have made a much more interesting novel (for me at least) if the Other Woman would have just been pissed off without being Evil. Then - just think of it? We get a sequel, with her as the heroine! That would have been great! Oh well. Not to be....

Amy: You might like this one then. The Other Woman is suitably evil and whoa doggie - the ending! I used to be able to roll with this trope a lot better, but the longer I read romance (and admittedly the older I get), it just tends to annoy me now.

nath said...

See, this was my first Osborne and while it wasn't a wowzer, I did finish it LOL.

Why did the hero get engaged with spoiled brat? Well because she's a beauty and oh, so innocent. Sigh. It's very much the noble/charming prince syndrome.

Still, the heroine was quite admirable in this book :P

azteclady said...

Oh dear!

I haz a sad now...





*pout*






Though I do see your points, I still like the book--sowwy!

BevBB said...

Bev: There was a lot of talk of "honor" on the hero's part. He married the heroine because of his "honor." Of course that begs the question of where was his "honor" in regards to his engagement?

Well, yeah, I'm trying to figure out the honor in drawing straws to bascially be "sperm donors" in the first place so to speak? On top of which is the previous engagement. Is there any indication he wanted out of said engagement? Before or after the drawing of the straws, I mean?

I guess what I'm thinking of is that oft-repeated custom that the woman could cry off but the man couldn't. And if we're talking 19th century and gold mining, we're talking at least Victorian era mentalities for the most part.

Re: the mining camp. This is where it's sorta weird. It is a camp. Prospecters are living in tents, cooking over camp fires etc. But there's some sort of town near by (which is described as deserted), and the make-shift hospital during the epidemic is a school house.

Heh, a gold mine discovered right by a ghost town. O-kay, I suppose that could happen. Sort of makes one wonder what happened to the notoriously well-known "camp followers" and how they missed the news about a gold mine though. o.O

Hey, I'd do a wiggling eyebrows if I knew how. ;-)

Oh, and anyone know how to get Open ID to change how it displays your nickname? I don't even know why it asks for one if it isn't going to use it.

Leslie said...

I thought I felt a disturbance in the force. :P

I read this one a while ago, not my favorite but I remember liking it. Wasn't the heroine similar to Jenny Jones? Kinda manly in her dress and manners? I might have to dig this one out - I'm not remember any real specifics. Sorry it didn't work for you.

Wendy said...

Nath: My one regret with DNFing it is that I did like the heroine, and was interested in her back story (which I didn't skim far enough into the middle of the book to get).

AztecLady: Good heavens! You shouldn't be sorry! I know lots of people who enjoyed this one. I'm just a freak.

Bev: That's pretty much how it's explained. She tried to cry off, but the men "wouldn't let her" and then the hero was "stuck." And sorry! I didn't explain myself very well. The town wasn't deserted until after the epidemic struck. Once people started getting sick (and dying) the healthy folks fled, the town got boarded up etc. etc. etc.

And sorry - no clue on OpenID. I have one, but rarely use it.

Leslie: She was similar to Jenny Jones. Rough around the edges, a little ornery, but with a hidden vulnerability. I liked her quite a bit - but the rest of the book (hero, the plot) wasn't working for me.

Heh - a disturbance in the force!

A Library Girl said...

That sounds...odd. From the sounds of things, the "Other Woman" is actually in the right in this case, because she fully expected to marry the guy and then he comes home after marrying someone else with absolutely no notice. Also, I'm kind of wondering why guys who are in a relationship, or at least guys who are engaged, weren't immediately disqualified from the "who gets to provide the sin-free sperm?" drawing.

SarahT said...

While this isn't one of my favourite Maggie Osborne books, I remember enjoying it quite a bit, despite the silly plot. The one I struggled to finish was 'Shotgun Wedding'. However, I've loved several of her books so much that I'm not bothered by a dud or two.

BevBB said...

Bev: That's pretty much how it's explained. She tried to cry off, but the men "wouldn't let her" and then the hero was "stuck."

I was thinking about the originaly fiance and crying off with that idea. That maybe he wanted out of the engagement but couldn't get out?

And sorry! I didn't explain myself very well. The town wasn't deserted until after the epidemic struck. Once people started getting sick (and dying) the healthy folks fled, the town got boarded up etc. etc. etc.

Oh, yeah, and I thought about that possibility after I made that comment.

While this isn't one of my favourite Maggie Osborne books, I remember enjoying it quite a bit, despite the silly plot. The one I struggled to finish was 'Shotgun Wedding'. However, I've loved several of her books so much that I'm not bothered by a dud or two.

Now, see, this is very definition of having a comfort zone with a favorite author to me. Cause it's not about how good or bad they are technically as a writer or even what the stories are about, it's about how their writing speaks to you personally as a reader. It either clicks or it doesn't.

I do sometimes wonder if that might something unique to the romance genre - not because we're different as readers but because we have so many more authors and books to choose from that the other genres don't. Call it a luxury of abundance or something. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Never read it, probably won't. But I did read a wilder one recently--a rich older guy decides he wants the heroine, whom he meets by chance, to marry his grandson so he can have a great-grandchild, tries to blackmail her into it, and succeeds. It was an old Candlelight supreme by Linda Vail, whose Intrigues, written as Linda Stevens are really good. The Candlelight got pretty yucky too.

Wendy said...

Library Girl: The hero tries to get out of being part of the drawing with that very logic. "I'm engaged; I'm as good as married" - and then ultimately peer pressure wins out. Then when he's the lucky winner (and pissed about it) the other men are like, "Uh yeah, I guess maybe you should have been excempt." Gee, ya think?

The problem with the Other Woman is that she is in the right. You can't blame the chick for being pissed. But instead of working with that, the author decides to heap The Evil on her, and it just makes the whole thing mind-numbing, and not very interesting. Blah.

Wendy said...

SarahT: Yeah, Shotgun Wedding was a hard one to read because of the heroine. The whole thing is a bit like a train wreck. As the reader you see disaster looming around the bend, but the heroine just happily keeps traipsing towards it.

I adore Maggie Osborne. I have far loved more of her books that not. She wrote such great characters, and her heroines were never bland (to say the least). I'm still mulling this one over, but I really think my largest issue with it was definitely the set-up. If the plot had been tweaked a bit, I think I would have kept on reading....

Wendy said...

Bev: Heh - nope. No desire to cry off from Engagement #1. Of course as the reader we know the plans he had made aren't really what he wants out of life (marry pretty girl, work in her Daddy's bank for rest of his life etc.) Then, Fiance #1 turns out to be Pure Evil - making it all so very convenient. Maybe that's my problem? It was too convenient?

Elissa Michelle said...

Hi weird is this? I have never read Maggie Osborne, and I don't really have a thing for Westerns (not anti-Western though). I also generally agree spot on with your assessments, Wendy. Yet all of this talk has made me go buy this book used on Amazon since I couldn't get it through my library!

Karenmc said...

Wendy, this may have been a DNF for you, but you convinced me to order two of Ms. Osborne's books from Thriftbooks (Prairie Moon and Shotgun Wedding).

Karenmc said...

Great, now that I ordered Shotgun Wedding, it looks like it wasn't a positive choice. Oh well; I'll read it anyway.

Wendy said...

Elissa: I knew someone would end up getting sucked in! Just because a book doesn't work for one person, doesn't mean it won't work for others :)

Karen: I loved Prairie Moon. It's a very emotional read, and I hope you enjoy it! I read Shotgun Wedding start to finish, but it was a tougher read for me. Mostly because of the plot. You'll understand when you read it :)

Kristie (J) said...

I'm not nearly the Maggie Osborne fan you are so I think I'll quite happily skip this one.