I have (somewhat) of a reputation for being a cranky reader. Or, if not cranky, at least a "tough" grader. But this year? I've lost my mind. For a variety of reasons, I'm in a slump. And part of that slump seems to be that I'm either reading books I really, really love or books that I really, really am disinterested in. As in, they may not necessarily be "bad" books - they just aren't engaging me for "reasons." And given the size of my TBR and the looming ARC pile? I'm giving myself permission to DNF more. Here are the latest additions to the DNF pile - one of which was written by someone I consider a friend. See? Wendy is mean even to people she knows!
Susan Meier and none of those books cracked out of my C grade range. So why do I keep reading her? Because of The Angst. She can write angst really well. But Her Brooding Italian Boss might finally be the book that has me saying, "Oh well, so long. We're just not a good fit for each other." I got to 30% and called it a day.
Heroine has just found out she's pregnant by her ex. Oh, and she's unemployed (or underemployed - I can't remember now. But suffice it to say money is a BIG issue). Anyway, instead of hauling the Baby Daddy to the nearest courthouse, she's at a friend's wedding where she runs into our Hot, Emotionally Wounded By Evil First Wife, Italian Artist Hero. Before you can say Rescue Fantasy (thanks in large part to Hot Hero's meddling Bazillionaire Father), she's working as his personal assistant and getting all fluttery around him.
Here's the thing with Meier - she's really fond of the Rescue Fantasy and she tends to lay them on pretty thick. Like, with a trowel. It was little annoyances at first. Ho hum, another rescue fantasy. How many times is the heroine going to fret about being "pregnant with another man's baby?" And then, it happens. We learn about Evil First Wife and I was DONE. Fading from glory supermodel hitches to hero's rising star wagon. She plays around on him - uh, a lot. Gets pregnant with his baby (presumably), doesn't tell him, then gets an abortion. Hero now a shell of a man because of her betrayal, but naturally everyone around him (including the heroine) thinks it's because he loved her SO MUCH!!!!
I found this conflict...annoying. The shorthand that only women who are Pure Evil would ever have an abortion. The genre has never been good with handling this particular issue well - but it's comical how totally Old School it is here and honestly? I found it rather insulting. So, I'm out.
Final Grade = DNF
Megan Frampton a long time. In Internet years we're like 239 years old. She was also my editor at Heroes & Heartbreakers for several years and brought me in on that project back when it was still "a project." I knew going into this book what to expect from her "voice," so I started The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior expecting a frothy, light read. I called it quits at the 40% mark when I realized I just didn't give a hoot about the characters and what happened to them next.
Through a series of improbable circumstances (namely three people dying before him), the hero is now a Duke. He's very whiny about this. All he wants to do is travel, be footloose and fancy free, drink and bed a bunch of women. Um, dude. What exactly do you think Romance Novel Dukes do? Anyway....
His young daughter arrives on his doorstep after the child's mother dies. What's refreshing here? He knew he had the daughter - she isn't a secret and he had been paying Early Victorian Equivalent Child Support to the Baby Mama. But ye gads! More responsibility! So he decides to hire a governess through heroine's employment agency. A Duke using their service is a major step up for them, but oh noes! No eligible governesses! No matter, the heroine will take the job herself.
And....that's pretty much it. After 40%. I do have a reputation for loving The Angst, but yes - I am capable of enjoying light and fluff. But I also expect conflict in my light and fluff and there just really isn't much conflict to be found here. Other than the hero having NO clue how to be a Duke, which seemed odd since it's not like he was born in a gutter. The guy knows how society works, so him not having the faintest clue how Duke's behave just makes him seem stupid. But anyhoodle....maybe conflict shows up later in the story? Entirely possible. But at 40% I just didn't really care about these people in their thinly drawn early Victorian (1840) world and.....done. Have you seen my pile of ARCs? Of which this was one and it came out in November 2014?
Megan is a friend (hopefully still is if she sees this blog post....), and if I had been reading a print edition I would have skimmed through to the end. But I just can't seem to skim digital with any sort of efficiency, so I'm moving on. I'm hoping for better with Frampton's more recent work and chalking this one up as a bump in the road.
Final Grade = DNF