Monday, April 25, 2016

Mini-Reviews: Rescue Fantasies Times Two

As the Reading Slump from Heck marches on, I decided to force the issue by tackling two novellas over the weekend.  Coincidentally, both novellas feature what is perhaps my least favorite theme in romance - Ye Olde Rescue Fantasy.  How well I tolerate the hero swooping in to save the heroine from certain doom, as always, boils down to execution.  One of the novellas was a success and the other one?  Not so much.
I meant to read Angel by Victoria Dahl ages ago, especially since I enjoyed the companion novella, Harlot, so very much.  Angel is a short prequel (as in 60 pages short...) that tells the story of prostitute Melisande Angelle and her regular customer, Bill Donnelly, who falls in love with her and how they end up leaving New Orleans to head west.

There's really not a whole lot to recap here (hello, 60 pages), but I wanted to point how well done certain aspects of this story are - namely the religious "stuff."  The story opens with Melisande leaving the brothel to attend Christmas morning services at church.  How Dahl tackles Melisande's faith and the religious themes in general, in this short novella that most definitely is not an "inspirational" is really very intriguing.
Still, Melisande thought maybe God still loved her.  She thought she could feel that when she sat beneath the paintings and the stained glass and the crucified savior.  The priests, however, would be a different story. 
The sex scenes are suitably erotic (read: vanilla) without kink and the romance itself is quite sweet and tender.  There's not a lot of substantial conflict here outside of Melisande being a prostitute and of mixed race to Bill's burly white Irish-ness.  At only 60 pages this conflict is addressed, but not unpacked in any deep sort of manner.  It's self-contained and works well in the short format, but given how intriguing I found the set-up and characters I couldn't help but want more.  Still, a solid read and if you liked Harlot you'll want to read this one too.

Final Grade = B
Desire Me Now by Tiffany Clare isn't a "bad" book, just one that tackles the Rescue Fantasy trope in a manner I personally find unappealing.  When I hit the 20% mark and found myself still not caring?  Yep, I gave myself permission to DNF.

Amelia Grant is gently born, hiding her true identity, and working as a governess under an assumed name.  By the 20% mark she had been:

1) Drugged and almost raped by her employer, fleeing the premises with her few meager possessions and what amounts to her life savings.

2) Her reticule, where she has stored said life savings, is snatched away in the streets by a crafty pickpocket.

3) She is almost trampled to death by horses in the street while running after the pickpocket only to be rescued by our hero, Nicholas Riley.

4) Nicholas takes one look at her, has lecherous thoughts, but wants to protect her, so tells her in no uncertain terms she is now his new secretary - never mind she has no clue how to be a secretary.  She's hung up about this, but he's a steam-rollin' Alpha hero so it's not like her protests are all that concerning....

5) And for added measure, she has to work because after Papa dies her wastrel brother gambled away what money was left and was getting ready to sell her off to marry a man whose reputation is worse than that of the employer who tried to rape her.


I get that the girl is having a bad day (OK, bad life) - but outside her constantly needing to be rescued and the hero having a White Knight Fetish, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to find the chit interesting enough to read about.  Which is ultimately the problem.  Even with Nicholas being a "self-made man" there's just nothing interesting about these people.  In fact, Nicholas is vaguely creepy, rescuing Amelia from certain doom, wanting to protect her, but still, of course, wanting to take her to bed for carnal delights.

None of it was working for me and my Kindle runneth over so....

Final Grade = DNF


azteclady said...

The deathly reading slump...

We could start a support group, Miz Wendy.

cleo reader said...

Wow. All of that happens in the first 20% of the book?! That sounds exhausting.

I haven't read any of Dahl's historicals but I think she's excellent at novellas and short stories in general. I may try this series. (Oh wait, I've read one historical - Wicked West, which I love but I'm not sure that it's typical of her historicals).

Wendy said...

AL: A support groups with chocolate...and vodka.

Cleo: Yeah, it was exhausting. It was just a mountain of "stuff" piled on the heroine with no real early character development.