OK, I admit that I have been trawling through the free eBooks on my Kindle quite a lot. Perhaps, I thought, that’s why I can’t seem to find a romance novel worth a shit.
(With just a few exceptions!)
After all, I wouldn’t find Robert Heinlein or Frank Herbert in there.
So I researched several Top Ten Romance Novels! None of them seemed to agree on what was best, but author Sarah MacLean appeared on two out of eight lists.
Alrighty, we got a contender.
I was leery immediately of the title, which seemed to be trying too hard. Don’t be such a snob, Sunny, I told myself, and clicked Buy Now next to $6.99 on Amazon.
Within just two short chapters, there is a meet-cute and “argument” between Sophie and the Royal Rogue that is strained and rather stupid. Although the writer is trying to convey urgency, because an angry fiancee is chasing Our Hero, MacLean insists on filler dialogue like Sophie asking the Rogue if everything she reads about him in the gossip pages is true.
For one, if Sophie uses the word gossip than she should know herself it’s not true. But never mind, because the writer contradicts herself by having Sophie state that she doesn’t read the gossip pages, anyway, a contradiction that is repeated a few times throughout the novel.
In a rare moment of clarity, the Rogue himself says: “Any woman who can use the word defenstrate should be able to figure out the obvious for herself.”
Several stilted conversational nothings later, Sophie finally flees with him to get a ride home, because she caused an awkward scene at a garden party.
We have reached the Mean Girls equivalent of literature.
Except it’s not nearly that good.
At this point, hardly two chapters in, I wanted to give up. The writer doesn’t know what she’s doing with her heroine, whether Sophie is fighting against the stereotypes of Victorian society or embodying every single one of its worst traits. She manages to do both in just a few pages, which makes it hard to like Sophie at all.
Only for you, dear Reader, and the fact that I spent the equivalent of a Venti peppermint mocha on this purchase, compelled me to continue.
My next issue was that the writer bludgeons the reader with a waterfall of synonyms regarding Our Hero. The heroine Sophie thinks that the Rogue is horrible, nefarious, odious, and that she loathes him.
Seriously. Four pages and those words are all in there.
I began to wish I had spent my money at Starbucks after all.
Sophie is angry that society doesn’t respect her or her family, but reading this objectively I can’t see how a reader could empathize, much less anyone else in this fictional world. Sophie’s sisters are gold diggers and Sophie herself is simply a vain brat with an over inflated sense of herself.
At heart, Sophie Talbot is just a vain five year old Honey Boo Boo.
Really? This “plot” hinges on Sophie’s absurd dream of I’m going to go back and marry the baker’s son who I haven’t talked to in ten years because no one likes me in London?
Really? Sophie hitched a ride in disguise on to the Marquess’s carriage just to prove she was “fun”? In boy’s clothes and no doubt filthy from riding on the block, she wants to confront King and say–what? Neener neener, I am fun, a lady who dressed as a boy and hitchhiked onto your carriage?
Motherfuckingod, am I going to have keep reading about Sophie’s personal dilemma as to whether or not she’s fun? Ten times in three short paragraphs is nine too many. Thirty times in one short novel is torture.
The writer needs to get out of her own way and stop re-capping the damn story. How many times do we need to be reminded that King doesn’t really like her, that Sophie doesn’t like him, blah blah blah.
This is book is basically about a twit who makes multiple bad decisions because she thinks she knows it all. The male character is even less substantial than that.
So of course they love each other!
PS I want my money back.