Abandoned House Show 8-23

Baby's First House Show

Footie Onsie? Check
Rattles? Check
Punk Rock Rat Tail? Check

"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" - Susan Donovan - 2009

Yay, yet another use of popular song title, in a book that has absoulutely nothing to do with the phrase! And not only does the title not fit, it's also a very ill-fitting cover.  These days it seems every other contemporary published has a sweet looking dog on it, but this book, the first in a series about single, (lonely/divorced/bitter/insecure) dog owners, shows no dogs and in fact, looks like it could be the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel to hit the stands. 

Like Christie Craig, Susan Donovan is a newer author I enjoy - and like Christie Craig's last effort, this one just didn't do it for me.   It wasn't the hero (or his neck tattoo!!) or even the forgettable heroine - it was the heroine's man-hating dog walking group who ruin the story for me.  Unfortunately this is a series and they are the ladies-in-waiting so to speak.

They are man-hating (but only til their book comes around) and nosy, and they make pacts which make them seem more like 12 year olds than women with good jobs and children.  One has a website called, "ivomitonallmen.com" so she's a lot of fun to be around, and I couldn't stand  '40 going on 5' Ginger's constant petty and shallow whining about how her looks have gone south and she's menopausal though no doctor believes it.  Seriously, shut up already.

Too bad "The Night She Got Lucky" (Ginger is the 'she') is the next book.  Too bad I read a "D" grade review of it that seems dead on.  Too bad a friend lent me this book so I have to read it.  Too bad it seems Donovan has lost the charm of "Take a Chance on Me" and "He Love's Lucy."  Hope she gets it back when these girls are done...

Ah, the "Forced Kiss" an Excellent Screenwriting Tool

What you need:  Two characters who believe their great chemistry is actually a mutual dislike.
The problem:  They would never kiss of their own accord at this point in their relationship.
The solution:  Make them kiss.  Typically this is commanded by family members, but anyone will do.

This kiss begins as a way to appease an audience, but quickly becomes more to the persons doing the kissing.  They realize this, get all awkward and pull away after a meaningful shared look.

I love this.

The best examples I can think of:

           "The Proposal" Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, because you can't say no to Betty White
"While You Were Sleeping" Sandra Bullock (again) this time with Bill Pullman
(this isn't the image, couldn't find the one I wanted - they get suckered by family AND mistletoe!)
while we're on the subject of holidays...
"The Cutting Edge" D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly fall prey to New Year's Eve celebrations
Practicing kissing with the "wrong" (i.e. right) person Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler
and most recently and sparking this post:
the always adorable Amy Adams and Matthew Goode forced into a PDA at a BandB dinner table

I believe the forced kiss is essential to the opposites attract plot, and can certainly help move things along when the characters do like each other.  Ultimately the viewer feels the same as the audience in the films - we want to see a kiss too!  I just love it.   

"Mine Till Midnight" - Lisa Kleypas- 2007

Since the Hathaway series just ended I decided to revisit the first novel, Cam and Amelia's story as it's been three years since it was published.  I had forgotten some details, and still feel Win and Merripen steal the show a bit, but overall these two are a enjoyable as ever - together they are backbone of the Hathaway clan - and a remarkable support for each other.  

"by the time you read this" - Lola Jaye - 2008, 2009

I came by this one through a friend, it’s not necessarily a book I would pick up on my own, if only because it’s plot reminded me too much of other things.  Possibly that would be unfair of me, but I immediately called to mind the films, “My Life” and “"Lucky 7"– a small ABC Family movie starring Kimberly Williams and Patrick Dempsey just before his Grey’s Anatomy comeback.  In “Lucky 7” the heroine lives her life according to a map her mom made before dying, taking each item literally even if it’s not what she would have chosen.  As you can imagine, Dempsey isn’t on the list and love and trouble follow.  It’s quite well done actually, but I’m a sucker for made for TV (Hallmark started it all….)

“by the time you read this” doesn’t cover any new territory, but it is set in an interesting time and location; South London, before technology made communication instantaneous, through the rise of the internet and cell phones.  A father leaves “The Manual” for life ages 12 – 30, because he knew he wouldn’t make it past that milestone.  His entries are sweet and funny – Kevin seems perfect on the page, so perfect in fact, the heroine Lois will spend her life comparing her mother, stepfather, and every man to enter her life to him.   No one holds a candle, and she grows into a rather anti-social workaholic, and frankly she’s not that likeable.  At the same time however the portrait author Lola Jaye paints of someone who loses a parent very young (age 5) and stops herself from feeling anything out of fear of abandonment is very believable.  It’s not all gloom and doom and ultimately Lois figures out what matters, work that is fulfilling and lets love in and gives it back without fear. 

While I was not reduced to tears, I did find it a quick enjoyable read, plus who doesn't like to make fun of backward pants and tight-rolling jeans?

"Shut Up and Kiss Me" - Christie Craig - 2010

Why do they insist on book titles which are also song titles to get stuck in a never-ending loop in my head?  Although I must admit I prefer Mary Chapin-Carpenter over ABBA (“Take a Chance on Me” Susan Donovan)  this one was in there for at least the first three chapters, and popped back again when the title appeared in the dialogue.  I’m not blaming the song for my overall impression of the book, but it didn’t help. 

This book is supposed to be wacky and funny and charming.  And while it’s certainly wacky and occasionally funny it isn’t charming.  And I like Christie Craig, especially the first novel I read by her, “Gotcha” – she seems to write cop stories through cabin romances and has a nice sense of humor.  But that might be her “thing” now, and it’s getting old. 

My issues boil down to a indifference bordering on dislike for the lead characters, an over-the-top supporting cast, and a good bit of violence without which the plot would never have moved forward.  I just did not ever warm up to the hero or heroine.  They were both so insecure and bad at relationships their whole courtship was an exercise in frustration.  One of the things I (and most romance readers, I’d say) love is the male perspective, knowing what the hero is thinking, however in this case, I didn’t want to know, cause he was a scared, possessive jerk most of the time.  As for the heroine, she just kind of annoyed me out the gate, demanding and snooping, I don’t know, they just didn’t do anything for me.  In fact I probably wouldn’t have cared if they didn’t have a HEA – but the ending they got was strangely abrupt, and left a weird taste in my mouth. 

It seemed as if Craig just kept piling shit on, in the hopes that more of everything would be funnier, but it just became more farcical and less believable.  Also there’s a lot happening in the story – a love triangle, an older couple, death threats, shoot outs, crazy townies and pow-wows.  I love a great supporting cast, and I love crazy townies (Gilmore Girls, Northern Exposure, Scooby-Doo) The problem with all that extra stuff in this particular story is that it seems to be put in to make up for a lack of story and connection for the hero/heroine.  This book needed some backup for sure, Craig just went too far for my tastes.  It seems as though there’s a sequel on the way involving the hero’s reclusive and complicated friend – and despite my issues with “Shut Up and Kiss Me” I will probably read his novel as he was the best part of this one.

Oh, and one more interesting tidbit - this book is marketed as a "guaranteed read" - everything you want from a contemporary romance - or your money back.  Well, I didn't buy this book, and didn't read it buy the refund deadline - but if I had I would be sending this entry as a letter to the publisher stating how it wasn't everything I wanted from a humorous contemporary romance.