The Particulars: Contemporary romance novella, LoveSwept, 2013, part of the Lakefield novella series, digital only
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: When this novella came out everyone and their dog was reading it and squee'ing about it. I wasn't purchasing a lot of ebooks during that period outside of Harlequin - but at the 2013 RWA Conference, Loveswept was giving away special print editions and I snagged one.
The Review: I haven't been reading. I haven't finished a book since late March and then it was an audiobook. I'm in a cranky reading mood at the moment, so keep that in mind while reading this review. I feel like I probably should have liked this more but there were things here that rubbed me the wrong way. And since everyone and their dog seems to have loved this story - well, this could be another case of Wendy being cranky about hyped books. Cranky Wendy gonna crank.
Carrie West is the type of heroine who keeps trying to convince the reader she's "happy" with her life but she's not really. She's lonely. And she strikes me as the sort of person who stays on the surface of everyone's life but never lets anyone get truly close. For amusement, this thirty-something single librarian who lives in a studio apartment likes to read personal ads of the Craigslist variety. When she reads Brian's ad, she responds. Brian wants to meet someone on Wednesdays for kissing. Just kissing. The first time Carrie and Brian meet in the park near the library where she works - their kisses are enough to set the park bench on fire. But Brian has baggage. Baggage that he is unwilling to share with Carrie, no matter how drawn he is to her.
On the surface this is just the sort of unique plot spin that I should find appealing, but the writing never really resonated with me. There's a confessional style here, but the dialogue smacks too flowery, too convoluted. For example, during an IM chat Brian says:
I can't...I'm not a one-night-stand guy. I'm not wired to enjoy that. I seems weird, I know, because what we did isn't that far away on the map from one-night-stand. There is always this moment, when you take a woman home just to take a woman home, some moment right before it could get awesome but you don't know yet if it will, that you, or maybe not you, but me, gets all still inside. Quiet. And for me, that moment always seems like it lasts forever. And it's enough time for me to live some kind of life from that moment to the end of time and back again. With this woman I've taken home or gone home with, with my one-night stand, someone who isn't mine, but for that one crazy long heartbeat, I want to be mine.My first thought was "What the hell did I just read?," my second thought was "Who the hell talks like this in Real Life?," and my third was "What GUY talks like this in Real Life?" It's entirely possible I've only known Neanderthal Men who communicate through a series of semi-intricate grunts, but seriously. No guy talks like this. Says Wendy. And it's my blog, so it must be true.
But everyone and their dog loves this novella so I persist until I get to the stereotypical Gay Best Friend who doles out pearls of wisdom like:
The part of yourself that opens herself up to a man based on nothing but a little intuition that there is goodness in him and that he kisses like the world's ending. Do you want to know that part? Because you don't have to. You're right. Your life is a nice one - there are no guarantees, but it's on the right path to stay a nice one. Brian is not on this path.Great. So basically we've got a Gay Best Friend crossbred with Yoda. Gay I am. Offer sage advice I will. Hmmmmm! (Read that in a Yoda voice - it totally works!)
I'll admit, I'm cranky. But I also don't feel like this is some deep love connection. Basically these two kiss, feel some Insta-Lust, and I'm supposed to buy that it's a great love match. And I'm not really convinced since it kind of smacks as a love at first sight thing (which I, admittedly, am not a big believer in). I also had issues with Brian's Big Secret. Delving too deeply into it veers all the way into Spoiler Territory, but in a nutshell? I'm not buying it as Big Secret material. Yes, his life is complicated but dude - man up. Yes, your life is complicated and you have obligations but treating it all like some Deep Dark Secret just....well, it dehumanizes the other players in the Big Secret which just bothered the heck out of me.
I probably should grade this lower - but I can't. I very well could be excessively cranky (well...more so than usual). I feel like this is a story I should have enjoyed more than I did. The plot should have worked for me and the style is in the same zip code as other authors I have enjoyed in the past (there are shades of Megan Hart, Molly O'Keefe and Charlotte Stein here). But it just never gelled. I could just be cranky or...not. I leave it up to you, dear blog reader, to decide.
Final Grade = C