Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TBR Challenge 2010: Hot And Cold Running Hero

The Book: One Night In Texas by Jane Sullivan

The Particulars: Harlequin Temptation #1022, 2005, Out of Print

Why Was It In The Bat Cave TBR?: Sullivan has also written single titles under the name Jane Graves. I read two books by Graves during my TRR tenure, one which caused me to lose I.Q. points (I Got You Babe), and another (Light My Fire) which I found highly enjoyable. It was because of that latter book that when I saw Sullivan/Graves at an RWA conference Literacy Signing (Reno 2005), I decided to buy one of her category romances. Plus, I used to really like the Temptation line.

The Review: I took this book along for what I foolishly thought was going to be a quick trip to the doctor's office. Instead, I was held hostage in a waiting room for 2 hours, on what should have been a 5 minute errand, and all I had to read was this book. So yes, admittedly, I was in a bitchy mood. But I can honestly say I don't think that had anything to do with me not liking this story. Here it goes:

When she was still living in Seattle, Alyssa Ballard had a week-long affair with a hunky guy named Derek Stafford. It was hot, it was heavy, and Alyssa thought she had found "the one." Then one week later, he hightails it out of town, leaving behind an abrupt "Dear Alyssa" note. Naturally, she then decides to track the guy down, only to learn he doesn't exist. There is no Derek Stafford. Everything he told her was a lie. Now living in Dallas, she still feels like a world-class fool for falling for him, but fallen she has. It doesn't help matters that the sex was off the charts. Hard to forget someone who is not only sexy as sin, but also good in bed.

Derek is a top secretive operative working for the government (what agency is never discussed - but gee, minor detail that). His job is to break into a penthouse and steal some DVDs that a scumbag is using to blackmail some congressmen. Little does he know he's breaking into a building that Alyssa, who works for a real estate tycoon, manages. Yep, naturally they run into each other and all hell breaks loose.

Ultimately the problem with this story is that I don't believe in the romance. At all. Derek is a career liar. Alyssa eventually drags the truth out of him, but that doesn't stop him from running hot and cold for the entire book. He charms her, he seduces her, and then he vanishes into thin air. Then he breezes back into her life, does it all over again, and then vanishes again. Finally the poor girl has to say "Look! Could you make up your mind already? I'm getting whiplash!" OK, so I paraphrased that, but as the reader, I felt the exact same way.

The author tries to explain this jackassery on his job (OK, I can see that) but then tosses in the requisite Poor Traumatic Wounded Childhood That All Idiot Romance Heroes Have To Have By Decree Of The Romancelandia Governing Council. He didn't know his Daddy, his Mommy was a Drunken, Drug-Addled Ho, and he went off to live with an uncle who gave him a place to live and fed him, but was emotionally absent. Newsflash: just because your childhood was shit doesn't give you a free pass to act like a jackass. I think I was supposed to feel sorry for this guy, and my maternal instincts were supposed to go all soft and gooey, but yeah - I wasn't buying.

Alyssa seems like a nice enough girl. Truly. But after a while the shine wears off because of her inability to control her hormones. Derek keeps running hot and cold, and instead of telling the guy to hit the road she can't seem to keep her panties on around him. Hey, I can totally understand being hot to trot for a guy, but after a while, him treating you like shit should be a bit of a wake-up call. Just sayin'.

The bright side here is that all this hot and cold running nonsense boils over into a pretty good confrontation scene at the end. Alyssa puts her foot down, which means Derek has to resort to a Grand Romantic Gesture Complete With Speech to win her back. It might have worked for me had I believed in Derek, at all. But I didn't, so essentially it didn't. A leopard can change his spots, certainly - but it takes more than Harlequin Temptation page-length (comparable to a Blaze) to convince me of that. Oh well. The happy couple is settling in Dallas. It's a pretty large city. Certainly there are plenty of marriage counselors (and divorce lawyers!) should it come down to that.

Final Grade = D+

That's two duddy reads in a row for Keishon's TBR Challenge. Here's hoping for better things next month.

11 comments:

AnimeJune said...

Aaaaaaugh! I HATE the "Sad Childhood Free Pass" cliche. While I can understand how a sad childhood can explain jackassery, it doesn't mean it's good or even a healthy reaction. It's even worse when the heroine goes, "Oh, you had a sad past? I forgive you." Um, NO

LOL, love your review!

SarahT said...

Yikes! It's TBR Challenge day. I was convinced it was next week... :(

That sounds like a book to miss.

Kaetrin said...

"Newsflash: just because your childhood was shit doesn't give you a free pass to act like a jackass."

So true! I much prefer the hero who "rises above". Whiny heroes are so unattractive!

JamiSings said...

Oh God, the "the hero had the worse childhood in the world" trope. I got so sick of that with Sherilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter books. Oh, I'd still read more because they're addictive - but EVERY SINGLE HERO with the exception of one had a horrible childhood, while the heroines had these happy childhoods.

Not every single man in the world was raped and beaten as a kid. Nor was every single woman raised in loving homes by June and Ward Cleaver. Sometimes it's reversed, sometimes they both had loving homes, sometimes they both had homes run by Satan himself. Mix it up a little, lady!

Wendy said...

AnimeJune: And we get that reaction from the heroine here - although, blessedly, she DOES put her foot down at the end. It helped, but not enough to salvage the story for me.

SarahT: I've been so swamped with other reading obligations that I've been getting my TBR Challenge done almost soley on category romance reads. But I figure that still counts :) I'm really trying hard to do every single month....

Kaetrin: He doesn't whine so much as breeze in and out of the heroine's life. It's frustrating for her and for the reader! She never knows if, when she wakes up in the morning, he'll still be there. I mean, how do you build a happily-ever-after on that?!

Jami: I've heard that a lot about the Kenyon series. Another reader I know says that while she loves a good tortured heroes that Kenyon seems to "overly torture" hers. It's a fine line. You still have to make the guy "redeemable" in the end, otherwise as the reader you're screaming at the heroine, "Run! GET AWAY WHILE YOU STILL CAN!" LOL

Samanthadelayed said...

I have read a couple of her books and I always liked them. Her Temptation called "When He Was Bad" was quite good. I especially loved Hot Wheels and High Heels which she wrote under the name Jane Graves.

Katie Mack said...

Don't give up on Sullivan/Graves because of this book. I know I read it, but I don't remember how I felt about it. I guess that means it was average for me. But there are other books of hers that I adore, such as Tall Tales and Wedding Veils, and When He Was Bad. Hot Wheels and High Heels was also good fun.

Wendy said...

Samantha & Katie: Oh, I won't give up on Graves, it just means she's now officially "hit or miss" for me. I adored Light My Fire, but this category and an earlier single title, I Got You Babe, just didn't work for me at all :(

Coincidentally, I do have both Tall Tales and Hot Wheels in my TBR. Uh....somewhere around here....

Lisa R said...

Found your site when reading your comments on "MMP vs trade vs hardback" on the Buried by Books website. Love this review on "One Night in Texas". I so hate these books where the guy or the girl can act like complete asses and the author throws in a few sad childhood poor mes and expects us to feel sorry for them and embrace their story. This is one of the reasons why after reading Harlequins and Silhouettes for years and years that I almost never pick one up anymore.

I was actually blog hopping tonight but I intend to come back and check out more of your reviews.

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

Wendy said...

Lisa: Glad you found me! Poke around the archives and you'll find many positive reviews for Har/Silh. books. My Monthly Reading Recap posts are a good place to start :) This one was just duddy for me.

JamiSings said...

Wendy - They ain't kidding! Her heroes are often raped as children. They're also severally beaten. One that did manage to not be raped was only so because he had been beaten so badly he was too ugly even for the most depraved pedophile. They're also often separated from their mother some how.

I've only seen one hero who had a good relationship with his parents - until they disowned him for marrying a prostitute, who then cheated on him and lured him to his death.

Seriously, it's amazing her heroes aren't all pedophiles and serial killers.

That doesn't mean I won't read another DH book - those things are like crack to me, totally addictive. But dang it, I want to grab her and shake her and say "NOT ALL HEROES WERE RAPED AS CHILDREN! AND NOT ALL HEROINES HAD GOOD FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS!"

I also wish she'd write about a short fat woman. Her one fat female, Bride, was over 6 feet tall and only about a size 16, so she really was not fat. Not for her height. Try being 5' 3" and a size 24!