Book-Talk Monday: What Are You Reading (October 2012)
It’s the first Monday of the month. And we all know what that means . . .
- What book(s) did you finish reading (or listening to) since last month’s update?
- What are you currently reading and/or listening to?
- What’s the next book on your To Be Read stack/list?
I have finished reading . . . absolutely nothing in the past month. I started the audiobook of Carol Cox’s Love in Disguise on September 3. I stopped listening to it a couple of weeks ago. Once I finish writing An Honest Heart, I may pull it up on my Kindle and finish reading it. There are two main reasons I haven’t finished listening to it, and they’re both pretty much equally weighted.
First, I’m more than a third but not quite halfway through the book and the heroine has barely met the hero. Sure, it’s an intriguing plot—in the 1880s, Ellie goes undercover to Arizona for the Pinkerton Agency to try to solve a string of silver thefts. She’s going dressed as an older widow (her background is in the theater). But the young woman who’s already a trained agent ends up not going, so Ellie becomes both the niece and the aunt, trying to ingratiate herself to the small community so she can solve the crime. The town has potential to be a great setting with quirky secondary characters. The plot has potential to provide both gripping suspense and wonderful humor. The romance has the potential to be fraught with fabulous tension—after all, she can’t reveal her true identity to the hero. However, at nearly halfway through the book, the narrative (well-crafted though it may be) has pretty much all been centered around Ellie and her decision making. She lost her job. Oh, no, what will she do? She can be a detective. But they don’t want a young woman. Oh, no, what will she do? She can disguise herself as an older woman. She now has a job, but the other young woman who is supposed to travel with her and teach her the job now isn’t going with her. Oh, no, what will she do? She arrives in town and discovers the (male) mine owners aren’t going to pay much attention to (or talk to) an older woman. Oh, no, what will she do? The telegraph operator tells everyone she’s expecting her niece to arrive. Oh, no, what will she do? She decides to dress up as the niece as well as playing the aunt. The first time she goes out dressed as the niece, the shady marshal flirts with her. Oh, no, what will she do?
Obviously, I’m a bit over-the-top with my description, but after a couple of weeks away from the book, that’s all I remember about it. Other than the fact the hero is a mine owner whose silver has been stolen, I don’t remember anything about him.
The second reason I stopped listening to it is because of the narrator. She sounds like she’s thirteen years old and is reading this book to a five-year-old. In addition to having a very juvenile-sounding voice, she has a tendency to mispronounce words and put inflections in strange places in words and phrases/sentences. And I’m afraid that she may be part of the reason why I’m not connecting with Ellie—because her silly voice and inflections make me feel like the character is silly and immature.
Now, I’m not saying that the book isn’t well written. Carol Cox has a wonderful, breezy writing style. However, when I pick up a romance novel, I have two major expectations: (1) the hero and his development will be given at least as much attention as the heroine—after all, I’m reading a romance novel to vicariously fall in love with him right along with the heroine; and (2) the hero and the heroine will meet and start building their relationship early in the story, preferably by the third chapter. As I tell writers in every workshop I teach on writing romances and in feedback in every contest I judge: the “meet” is what gets the plot of the story rolling. In a true romance novel, none of the rest of the subplots or characters matter except for how they tie into that developing relationship.
So while the idea behind this book is interesting, and different for the Christian market, it’s just not drawing me in the way I want it to. I want more hero-heroine push-pull scenes and fewer “Oh, no, what will I do now?” plot devices.