Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Ranty McRant Review: A Likeable Woman

Yes, I'm still making my way through some long neglected ARCs and I can tell you exactly why I downloaded A Likeable Woman by May Cobb last year. Like a fool I got sucked in by a promo email sent by NetGalley.  The fact that it was slated for July 2023 and the back cover blurb read like a primetime soap opera - I'm only human. I took a flier on what could have panned out to be sudsy, compulsive beach read.  Let's just say it was like getting stung by a jellyfish.

I can't talk about how much of a Hate Read this one turned into without spoiling damn near everything - so that's your warning.

Ranty Spoilery McSpoilerkins Ahoy!

When Kira was a young teenager her mother "committed suicide." Everyone in their small, affluent Texas town had no trouble believing that Sadie killed herself. She was flighty, artistic, prone to dramatics, and behind closed doors everybody knew Kira's father was an abusive asshole. The problem is, Kira has never believed it. She worshipped her mother. Was closer to her than anyone else. Mom wouldn't kill herself and leave her. She just wouldn't. Kira is so vehement that eventually her rich-with-oil-money Granny packs her off to boarding school.  Now living in Los Angeles, Kira hasn't been back to East Texas since and is all set to ignore the invitation to her childhood frenemy's vow renewal ceremony when Granny calls. She has something that belonged to Kira's mother, something that Kira needs to see - something that has convinced Granny that maybe Kira has been right all this time.  Sadie did not kill herself.

The plan is for it to be a quick trip. Get in, get what Granny has of her mother's, get out. Kira is stuck in her own life, marking time. She needs closure to move on and is hopeful she'll finally find some.  Meeting her at the airport is her first and only twu wuv Jack.  Also Jack's booze-swilling, pill-popping bitch of a wife and their young autistic son.  Jack, still as handsome as ever. Jack practically a goddamn father of the year.  Jack, whose wife is a bitch, but still - HIS WIFE!  This guy's life is messy as shit but that doesn't stop Kira from having to change her panties around him the whole damn book.

Folks, I thought this behavior was exceedingly gross and Kira as a character never recovers from it. I'm supposed to root for this person on their quest for the truth? Really?!

Turns out what Granny has is a book that Sadie was writing. A book that was mostly confessional diary written directly to Kira - but that somehow Sadie thought someone might publish someday.  Seriously, I hate everybody.  Anyway, what follows is Kira not dropping her life to read the whole damn book in one sitting because then this book would be 100 pages long and we flit back and forth between Kira being the dumbest dumb bunny ever and chapters told from Sadie's messy and equally dumb bunny point of view.  

The apple definitely did not fall far from the tree folks.

The readership of this blog is primarily a romance genre related one - so y'all will know what I'm talking about when you read a story featuring a heroine who is a young woman, but her pop culture references feel way too old.  The author never comes out and gives the ages her characters definitively but they feel and act like Millennials. Probably somewhere in their 30s.  The problem here is the references are very Gen X.  I'm firmly Gen X and I barely remember 8-Track car stereos. But Kira remembers her parents' car having one. She also had a poster of REM's Green album on her wall (1988) and her high school senior sister pulls on acid-washed jean shorts in one flashback scene. And these are just a few of things that didn't read "right" to me.  Even if I'm being generous - it would put Kira and all her frenemies looking down a very short hill barreling towards 50.  This book was published in 2023. It reads more like something that would have made sense to be published in the early 2000s.

Something like this though, I could look past if I'm enjoying the story and characters. Reader, the only reason I didn't DNF this book is because, Lord help me, I had to find out who killed Dumb Bunny Kira's Dumb Bunny Mommy.  And Kira, besides not reading the damn "book" in one sitting (which the author tap-dances around because golly, there's all these events planned surrounding the insipid vow renewal), is so slow on the uptake you just want to scream in her face after a while.  She starts suspecting people whose motives are weak as hell (if they have one at all).  There's a secondary character who OBVIOUSLY wants to tell her something IMPORTANT but Jack and small town gossip tell her the guy is bad news. 

Take a wild guess how that turns out?

But the thing that really got to me?  The unresolved feelings for Jack and the fact the author damn near writes it like I'm supposed to believe this is some great unrequited love.  Look, is his wife a bitch?  Yes. But, and maybe this is my old age talking, I felt sorry for her. Her son is autistic, and she's obviously still struggling with that diagnosis (this is only natural IMHO).  On top of that her husband is goddamn Mary Poppins ("practically perfect in every way") and now the girl he never forgot from high school is in the back seat of their rental car.  So yeah, Melanie may be a bitch, but maybe there's a reason for that.

It ends exactly the way I expected it would, with the Bad Guy being exactly who I expected it to be. Is this a soap opera? Yes. It ticks a ton of those boxes, and I honestly probably could have gotten behind this more if 1) the plotting was better and 2) Kira wasn't so blindingly stupid and distasteful.  It became a hate read very early on and stayed that way to the bitter end.  Damn my black soul for wanting the whodunit confirmed so I can lord over this terrible book that it didn't fool me.

Although it fooled me into finishing it - so maybe I shouldn't gloat.

Final Grade = D-


azteclady said...

Apologies in advance, but somehow my reaction to the book as described her can be summarized with, "gag me with a spoon".

At least it's off the TBR virtual shelf?

Jen Twimom said...

Ah... that review was a joy to read, and I had to get to the very end to make sure you did as well. Thanks for taking one for the team.

Wendy said...

This book had DNF written all over it but I couldn't stop. I had to find out who killed her mother. Which in a twisted way I guess means it was a success? But yes, it's off my Kindle now - so small victories.