My pile of ARCs is beyond out of control and if there is any hope of me seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I have given myself permission to start DNF'ing (Do Not Finish) more. I DNF for a variety of reasons - which this round-up will ably illustrate. Here are three titles I recently gave up on, but hey - maybe they'll work for you!
Snowbound Surprise for the Billionaire by Michelle Douglas was downloaded via Netgalley because 1) Harlequin Romance 2) Christmas read and 3) Boss/Secretary trope. Unfortunately I ended up DNF'ing it around 30% out of disinterest.
It starts out promising, with the hero buying the heroine's family farm but stipulating that he wants her to stay on to help jump start his business plan. She's desperate to "escape" and have a life of her own. When the hero overhears this he proposes she travel with him to Munich on business. His PA cannot travel with him for some reason that I forget now and heroine would serve as his temp.
This lost steam for me with the, what I felt was, odd transition from the farm to being the hero's PA on a business trip. After that it descends into a travelogue of Munich, the heroine being a wide-eyed tourist, happy to finally escape the Australian countryside. Nothing terribly "bad" about this per se - I was just bored by it. It didn't grab me. It was totally shaping up to be an "average" C read for me, and I was ready to move on.
A League of Her Own by Karen Rock - an author I've really enjoyed in the past. Heroine was collegiate softball star and now coaches. Her Daddy owns a minor league, Triple-A baseball team. Daddy has heart attack, heroine convinces him to give her the vacant head coaching job on the team. Hero is a washed up pitcher, now sober, who was signed by Daddy and hopes his second chance jump-starts his baseball career.
The baseball stuff here is wronger than wrong. Triple-A is the top minor league stop before you go to the big leagues. Minor league owners do NOT sign players. General Managers and the front office with the "big clubs" are responsible for filling out rosters (through free agency, the draft, Rule 5 picks etc.) in the entire farm system (Single, Double and Triple A teams). Their job, their desire, is to pick talented players who will eventually become major league baseball players. Your farm system, at all levels, is there to serve the major league club. Hence no minor league owner anywhere would sign a player. A major league owner might have some sway, but not a piddly minor league owner. It's not plausible.
Minor league owners do NOT hire coaches! Again, GMs and the front office at the "big clubs" do that. The major league club has drafted all of these talented players, they're not leaving those players in the hands of a some coach that the minor league owner hired who could be a total wahoo. And while I'm at it? There is more than one coach on any minor league team. Using the Toledo Mud Hens as an example (Detroit's Triple-A team) you have a pitching coach, hitting coach and yes - then your manager (head coach). Hell, when the Tigers hired new pitching coaches for both Triple A and Single A this off-season the announcement came from Dave Dombrowski's office (Tigers GM). And while I'm at it - even though Daddy is looking to sell his Minor League team because they are losing money? He'd have a hard time doing it without input from the major league club, who he would be under contractual obligation to. Major League Baseball teams enter into agreements with these minor league affiliates. Teams can even change affiliation over time (the Syracuse Chiefs, now Washington Nationals Triple A was once the Triple A team for the Toronto Blue Jays, one example) - but again, these are contractual agreements. Like stadium deals. You're going to be "our team" through 2017, for example. Now if the major league club decided to not renew the contract? Then yes, Daddy could sell the team. But he'd also have no players - since the abandoning major league club would move their rosters to whatever city they set up camp in next.
Then the heroine gets the job as manager and starts thinking of ways to increase attendance. Uh, no. NOT YOUR JOB CUPCAKE!! Your job is to manage. To coach. To get the players ready for a possible call-up to the big club. The job of PR? The job of getting butts in the seat? Minor league teams, especially as high up as Triple A (!!!) have front office staffs for that. Minor league promotional departments are legendary in fact. Best family fun a little amount of money can buy in a lot of cities.
So yeah, the baseball stuff is jacked up. But if you know nothing about baseball and don't rightly care? Heroine is desperate for Daddy's approval, the hero is a recovering alcoholic, and if you combine both of the chips they have on their shoulders you've got Texas. I've liked Rock's books in the past but this one was a non-starter for me. Because, you know, baseball.
You can all wake up now. This concludes Inside Baseball Hour at the Bat Cave.
Texas Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday is the first book in a trilogy and doesn't release until January 6. For that reason I hesitated blogging about it, but figure my quibbles are minor enough that they won't turn off every reader of this blog. Heroine is a mail order bride from the South (uh, somewhere - I can't remember) who steps off the train only to realize her groom (the hero) has no idea she even existed. He didn't write her all those letters, some impostor did - and his two brothers have assured him it wasn't them. She has nothing to go home to so convinces the crotchety general store owner to give her a job. Hero continues to be flummoxed by her very arrival and presence even though they were barely on page together for the first couple of chapters. Naturally, you have the two sequel-baitin' brothers hanging around and it appears someone is out to settle a score with the hero over Lord knows what because I didn't get that far.
I DNF'ed this one because of writing style. I've read Broday in the past and liked those books to varying degrees. But here? Ever start a book and feel like you should "know" the characters already? Like you're jumping into book #3 in a series without having read the preceding two? Yeah, that. And since this is book one in a trilogy? It was really unsettling. There's just....no early character development. I was like, "I don't know these people so why should I care about them?" What I did read led me to believe this is going to be a "fun" historical western of the light, bantering variety - and honestly? Those are harder sells for me. I like dark, gritty, holy crap are we gonna die when winter hits?! historical westerns. But if you like fun westerns? Read a sample, see if it's your thing. The older I get the pickier I get with westerns, mostly because I want what I want - and so very few western romance authors seem to be working in "gritty" milieus these days.
Maggie Osborne could come out of retirement any day now. Seriously.
Don't feel too sorry for me though. In between the DNFs I found several quality reads, including two books that will make my eventual Best of 2014 list. We'll see how many more of these style posts I do in the future. One of my resolutions for 2015 is to put books on shorter leashes. Otherwise, I'll never get through the pile.