Friday, December 18, 2015

DNF Review: A Cowboy's Christmas Reunion
Outside of adhering to genre expectations (so for romance - the happy ending), I often say that authors should not think of trying to "please readers" when writing a story.  That way lies madness.  Why?

Because readers are nut-jobs.

We have likes, dislikes, baggage, and sometimes we're just being a colossal pain in the behind and decide we want to nit-pick everything to death.

Case in point?  A Cowboy's Christmas Reunion by Sasha Summers - which I downloaded from NetGally because 1) Christmas 2) American line, which I like and 3) new-to-me author and I believe this is her Harlequin debut.

I got to the 50% point and decided life was too short for me to keep reading about these people.  In the grand scheme of things was the book overly offensive?  Not really.  I've seen other reviews that have ranged from middling (Meh, it was OK) to positive.  But man, this couple just rubbed me the wrong way from start to the 50% point.  I thought maybe I was just being overly picky - and you know what?  Maybe I am.  I thought, Wendy - it's a category, just finish it.  But then I realized that the thought of continuing sent about as much excitement through my veins as say....a root canal.  And you know, my TBR.  Life's too short.

Josie Stephens parents are divorced.  Mommy goes through husbands like Kleenex and Josie finally settles in Tiny Texas Hometown with Daddy, who runs a bakery and offers stability.  She hates it - of course - even though Daddy is Father of the Year.  She can't wait to leave Tiny Texas Hometown and make her way in the world.  But she does have a high school sweetheart - Hunter Boone.  But not even Twu Wuv can keep her from heading to art school in New Mexico.  She doesn't look back (she stops calling him, stops writing, basically drops off the planet) and then gets all butt-hurt when Hunter - likely all lonely and bereft gets drunk one night, has a one night stand, gets the gal pregnant and marries her.

So now it's 10 years later and Josie is home because Daddy took a tumble, although blessedly did not break his hip.  She hates being home and naturally Hunter comes sniffing around because god knows why.  He's divorced now - although Josie doesn't know that right off the bat.  Why?  Because she told Daddy "Don't ever talk to me about Hunter!!!!!!" so he never told his daughter the marriage fizzled.  Never mind she also still has a supposed BFF in town.  Ugh.  Anyway, Hunter's ex is tarred and feathered as a tramp who HATTTTTTEEEEEEEDDDDD Josie.  Gee, wonder why?  Ex is a horrible tramp who divorced her husband who didn't love her, left her son behind and hit the rodeo circuit to be some sort of cross between competitor and buckle bunny - because OF COURSE SHE IS!  Before I quit this book she calls Hunter at one point and basically is all coy and coquettish and comes on to him - because OF COURSE SHE DOES!!!!

Hunter's kid naturally hates Josie because the Evil, Slutty Ex told him a whole bunch of lies.  Never mind that Mommy is never around and Hunter if Father of the Year - the kid hates Josie.  Anyway, Hunter's still got it bad so he keeps sniffing around Josie.  Josie is still all "I hate this town and ooooh Hunter broke my heart so bad and I can't trust him!!!!"

And Wendy began alternating between fantasizing about Supposedly Evil Slutty Ex running them over with a pick-up truck and musing if I had enough vodka on hand in the Bat Cave.

Have I read worse?  Yes, I have.  But there was something about this story that just rubbed me every which way that was wrong.  It was a super, intense dislike to the point where I suspect I could be overreacting.  Or maybe I seriously just need a vacation. 

There's a bunchy of cutesy small town shenanigans in play and OF COURSE Hunter has a whole parcel of hunky brothers who will inevitably get romances down the road.  There wasn't a single person in this story I wanted to read about or spend any time with and yes, I know it's a category by a new-to-me author but.....

I just couldn't anymore.

Final Grade = DNF


Erin Burns said...

Blehg, that sounds awful.

azteclady said...

Isn't it funny how, when we get to like the characters--by virtue of whichever magical chemistry happens between writing voice and reader--we forgive a lot of annoyances with the characters? But all the dogs help the book when we are not engaged.

At least this is a new to you author--I recently hated the latest Nalini Singh contemporary. Felt horrible, like breaking up. Ugh.

Nikki said...

Thank goodness you read it first to warn the rest of us.

Wendy said...

I've definitely read worse - which is why I'm thinking I'm overreacting or I just had some weird "reaction" to the writer's voice. I'll be honest - the Slutty Ex kinda pushed me over the edge. I'm thinking this story might have worked slightly better for me (even though I had serious Heroine Issues) if, say, the hero had a Dead First Wife instead of a Slutty Hateful Ex.

AL: It is THE WORST when it's an author you normally adore. I DNF'ed a Maggie Osborne once and it damn near killed me. I chalked it up to an anomaly, have read others by her since then - and all is right with the world :)