Saturday, June 6, 2020

Mini-Reviews: A DNF, A What-Might-Have-Been, and Comfort Reading

I was bound and determined to continue my Maisey Yates glom but terrible timing and realizing too late I was full-up on sexually inexperienced heroines led me to DNF'ing Seduce Me, Cowboy at the 30% mark.  The heroine is a good-girl preacher's daughter who has finally realized that being good has gotten her nowhere in life - so she moves out of her parents' house, quits her secretarial job at Daddy's church, and goes to work for our hero, who is a gruff wrong-side-of-the-tracks sort who has built a construction empire.  She's Never-Been-Kissed Rose-Colored-Glasses, and he's Mr. Grumpy Jaded Cynic.  I just couldn't with this child.  In the wake of everything currently going on in the US (posterity for my blog archives: COVID-19, George Floyd's murder, civil unrest) I just...couldn't with this child.  Plus this was the third sexually inexperienced Yates heroine in a row I'd read and y'all...I just couldn't with this child. Certainly I've read and enjoyed plenty of books featuring Sunshine-y Heroines and Grumpy Heroes, but now is not the time. Her Sunshine-y privilege just made me want to smack her into next Tuesday.

Final Grade = DNF

The Ghosts of Eden Park: the Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott was an audiobook listen I picked up at The Day Job because I like Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction nonfiction books and this is another one of those "Trials of the Century" that have largely faded from American consciousness.  George Remus was a morally bankrupt pharmacist-turned-lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio who turned Prohibition bootlegger.  He dumped his first wife, married Imogene (who worked in his office - because of course) and ultimately caught the attention of Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who was appointed Assistant US Attorney General under the less than squeaky clean Harding administration. Willebrandt, charged with enforcing Prohibition, had a real problem finding field agents who weren't corrupt, and she thought she'd found her man in Franklin Dodge.  Turns out? Not so much.  Dodge and Imogene entered into an affair while Remus was in prison.  When Remus got out of prison? That's when all hell broke loose.

Abbott had access to extensive court documents - which, fine.  The problem is she focuses on the least interesting guy in the room.  Remus is just like every other megalomaniac sociopath criminal gangster that came before him, and since.  Imogene and Dodge are the story here.  How exactly did these two really hook up? Did Imogene set her sights on Remus from the word go in order to take everything out from under him - or was she pushed into it, either by Dodge or with her just being completely fed up with Remus's abuse?  We'll never know.  I get that Abbott is working with the historical record available to her, which means my final impression is that what I really wanted was a historical fiction account of these characters - not so much nonfiction.

Final Grade = C

Back in late summer 2017 I decided to revisit Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone series. I made great progress in 2018, kept going in 2019, but stalled out when it was time to read While Other People Sleep, the 18th book in the series. Frankly, I got distracted by other books, and I recalled being meh about this one when I first read it.  Turns out my memory isn't completely shot.

Sharon, now with her own agency, finds out through her grapevine that a woman was impersonating her at a cocktail party.  What Sharon hopes was a harmless prank turns out to be much more sinister - this woman is handing out her business cards, having one-night-stands, stealing from said one-night-stands, committing credit card fraud, calling her friends and family, and even is audacious enough to break into Sharon's house.  

This book feels like Muller just didn't have enough to oomph-up the main mystery.  There's other threads here - namely efficient office manager Ted is acting completely out of character, and some added bits about various other cases the firm is working (one is a guy hiding financial assets ahead of a divorce, the other a guy who thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him).  Then there's Sharon's relationship drama - Hy is off to South America, not in contact just as Sharon's life is unraveling, and he's likely in danger.  It gives the book a very scattershot feel for the first half.  It's not until the second half, when Sharon loops in all her colleagues about the woman who is ruining her life and the focus lands firmly there that things smooth out.  Then it turns out to be a decent cat-and-mouse style read.

Not a favorite in this series but I desperately needed Competent Female Porn - and smart, female private detectives are my jam. They're 100% comfort reads for me.  Smart woman solves the mystery, saves the day and justice is served - I mean, what's not to love about that?

Final Grade = C+


Victoria Janssen said...

"I just couldn't with this child." Amen! LOL.

Wendy said...

Victoria: I just couldn't. I was so not in the mood.

Jill said...

I feel you with the super inexperienced heroines. I started reading romances when I was really young and even then they got on my nerves. It wasn't so much just the virgin heroines (b/c they were the default for so long) but the heroines who were so passive and the heroes were "let me show you how your body works" and that was considered super sexy. Blech! I didn't even know the word "agency" then (aside from the talent and travel versions ;-)) but I think that was looking for. Women with agency. I remember thinking "I'm a virgin and I'm not this stupid about my body. What is wrong with this person?"

Maybe it was b/c I was just as inexperienced as them and I didn't like the idea that I could grow up and still be so naive? or that being naive and "untouched" is what I would be valued for even as an adult? I don't know, I'm reading a lot of sociology stuff lately and it's interesting what it causes me to question.

I get it's a powerful fantasy for some people, but it is my anti catnip and when I accidentally stumble into it's automatic DNF for me.

Wendy said...

Jill: I didn't get far enough along in this book to get a full accounting of the heroine's agency - but the whole never-been-kissed thing didn't instill confidence - nor did her sunshine-y attitude which, given current events, I just couldn't deal with right now. I will say one thing about the inexperienced heroines in the previous two books I read by Yates - they had agency. They weren't the variety that were completely clueless about their own bodies, and I distinctly remember the heroine in Hold Me, Cowboy being more than capable of, um, giving herself release ;)

I couldn't agree more with your entire comment. Twinsies!

Renae said...

Oh my gosh, Wendy. I've just finished all 10 (+ novellas) of the main Copper Ridge series and I just...ack. Why is she so obsessed with virgins?! Once or twice is fine and statistically likely. But SEVERAL 30-year-old virgins who've been pining after some teenage ideal of a dick is I can't. *cry-laughs*

Wendy said...

Renae: LOL - I know. I've been following your journey on GoodReads. Your glom helped tremendously in me making the call to DNF this particular book and move on to another author for now. I just couldn't anymore.

I started reading Yates through her Presents - so I need to go back to that line, see if the issues I couldn't "unsee" in the Desires are there and I just hadn't noticed them before?