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Saturday, March 13, 2010

The DNF Hit Parade

OK, this is getting old. But at least no one can accuse me of not trying to meet Keishon's TBR Challenge this month.

I've just DNF'ed another book. Yes, another one. I hate doing this for two books in a row, especially when I got all the way to page 225 in Just One Touch by Debra Mullins. However I got to the point where picking up the book and trying to read more was making me angry. As in, Hulk-like angry. Yeah, it was time to give up the good fight.

If you've ever been uncertain what the term "wallpaper historical" means, look no further. This book could be Exhibit A. Reading it reminded me of a line from the movie Goodfellas:
"Can't even get decent food - right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup."
It's supposed to be a Regency, but honestly there's no flavor here. The author could have plunked these characters down in any other time period or setting and she wouldn't have had to change anything.

But, let me make a confession: Wallpaper history does not make an automatic DNF for me. I can roll with them if there's enough "other stuff" in the book to keep me engaged. Sadly, in this case there wasn't.

Reading about these characters was like dining at the RomanceLandia Character Trope Buffet. Seriously. It was everything and the kitchen sink and all the junk you have piled up in your garage. It's a mess. Let's take the hero for example. In order of appearance:
  • In his younger days he would drink, debauch and get into fights, so we have a rake, right? No, wait a minute....
  • He goes off to war, is taken prisoner and is haunted by his experiences. So we're getting a wounded hero with PTSD, right? No, wait a minute....
  • He comes home and finds his father and brother have gambled and debauched away their finances, and he wants to restore the family reputation. So, we're getting a driven hero determined to restore pride in his family name, right? No, wait a minute...
  • He's a Horse Whisperer who is more comfortable with animals than people. So we're getting a gentle Beta hero who is shy around girls, right? No, wait a minute....
  • He's charming and roguish and likes to playfully tease the heroine, so we're back to "reformed" rake, right? No, wait a minute....
  • He has the family "curse" (dun, dun, dun!) which entails a "bad" temper. So we're getting a Beast-like character who will be soothed by the love of a good woman, right?
And that's where I stopped. My neck was starting to kill me from the whiplash.

Then there were plot points that didn't make any sense whatsoever. The hero's "curse" is essentially a bad temper. A bad temper that causes him to beat-up his wastrel, drunken older brother who comes around begging for money, and the stranger he comes across who is whipping a horse half to death on the side of the road. Oooooh, scary! The man is out of control! Prone to fits of rage without any provocation whatsoever! / end sarcasm

Then we have the heroine's idiot father who thinks he's being poisoned to death and yet does nothing about it. Granted, he has no proof, but don't you think a frickin' Duke could at least get off his lazy butt and, oh I don't know, maybe travel away from the estate where he thinks he's being slowly poisoned to death? Way to be proactive dude!

The heroine is your standard issue wounded Regency miss who jumps at her own shadow because of a kidnapping-for-ransom episode some years earlier. I wasn't entirely unsympathetic, but between the author spoon-feeding me the story (repetition, we haz it), the hero's multiple personality disorder, and her annoying beyond words Daddy - I got pretty sick of her scared little girl who needs protecting shtick after a while.

And that, as they say, was that. I couldn't take it anymore. Which means I'm now back to square one in trying to get my TBR Challenge done for this month. At this point, with two failed historicals under my belt, I'm thinking I need to totally change course. Maybe something erotic, suspenseful or a contemporary? On the bright side, that's now two books I've gotten off the TBR Mountain.

Final Grade = DNF


Anonymous said...

LOL! Great non-review. You can choose a mystery for the TBR challenge -- maybe that would be palate cleansing after this disaster?

Anonymous said...

Eeek! Wow, that's a lot of contradicting stuff to fit into one book. LOL, the author probably couldn't decide how to portray him, maybe. Thanks for the heads up about this book, it doesn't sound like a great reading experience. A erotic contemporary? I've been on a kick of those lately, lots of fun. :D

Amy said...

Crap, I have this one in my TBR. Shocker, no? I may give it a whirl just for fun soon.

I thought I'd picked a dud when I chose my challenge book -- THE KING'S MISTRESS by Terri Brisbin. Its medieval setting is one of my least favorite, but I'm liking it!

Kristie (J) said...

I'm sort of having the opposite problem - and mine is much better. My reading mojo has taken over and that's all I want to do - read, read, read!! And there's been some excellent ones in there!
It does sound like you need to change up to something different.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the honesty. I am about ready to do the same with Street Game by Feehan. I just get tired of the repetiion. Her plots are good but get on with it. I just need to heck with it and throw it in the donation pile.

sula said...

when picking up the book is makin' you angry, it's time to just DNF and move on. Life is too short for bad books. Great review tho. I like the buffet analogy. :)

JamiSings said...

No shame in not finishing a book. There's been a few of those for me. Two were Stephen King books that just made no sense. One was this mystery novel that was suppose to be all these fictional detectives trying to figure out who was the murderer in Edwin Drood. I just couldn't get past Sherlock Holmes hanging out with Sam Spade. It didn't work for me.

I have known people IRL who think that losing your temper, even when justified, is always wrong. My mom is one of those. So she'd probably see the hero's bad temper as a curse. Not that I'm justifying bad writing. I'm just saying there are people like that the the real world.

In fact, to illustrate some of my mom's repressive tenancies, we were talking about how women today think nothing of dropping the F-bomb every other word and I said, "I can see saying it if you shot yourself in the foot" and she instantly said, "You can't say it even then!" Yep, according to my mom you can't say "Fuck" even if you blow off your toes.

Wendy said...

Jessica: I almost did pick up a mystery/suspense. Went with erotica instead though :)

Anna: Yeah, that's what it read like to me. Like the author wanted to include all of her favorite hero tropes, and it came out a big ol' mess instead.

Amy: I'm not a massive medieval fan, but I do enjoy them as the occasional pallet cleanser.

Kristie: I would kill to be on a reading jag right about now - but I've been pretty "steady" of late (DNFs and all) so I really can't complain.

Sandy: This one started out "OK, but nothing spectacular" for me, but as it wore on, so did my patience. These days if I don't promise a review to anyone, I don't finish books that aren't gellin' for me.

Sula: It was SO a buffet. You name the character trope, it was probably represented somewhere in the book.

Jami: I'm trying to imagine Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade hanging out together, and that's a real brain bender!

And sometimes only the F-bomb will do. Shooting off your toes would be one of those instances - LOL