"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.