The simple fact is that if you compare yourself to a great, industry giant like Sophie Kinsella or Christina Lauren, your book will most likely suffer in comparison. It’s like a horror author saying they’re the next Stephen King, or a singer saying they’re the next Whitney Houston. It’s just...douchey. (Note: the only exception to this rule is when someone ELSE says something nice about a book. Then, quote away, authors and publishers. But then AND ONLY THEN is it not a dick move to pull a humble brag like that.) So, as I feared, this book suffered in comparison to Sophie Kinsella, Zoe Foster and Christina Lauren. A bummer, but not surprising.
Here’s what went wrong:
The heroine, Sarah
Sarah is a wishy-washy turd of a heroine. She’s hung up on her twatwaffle of an ex (even though he ditched her and stuck her with a mortgage she couldn’t afford) right up until the very end of the book. She’s also the worst reporter in the history of reporters and only succeeds at her job by stumbling head-first into information. It’s blind stupid luck that she gets her story, which I hate. I much prefer smart heroines who are good at their jobs. (Competence porn is my jam) She’s also dumb enough to accept a drink from known criminals. (Who does that? OF COURSE it was drugged) In short, Sarah is TSTL (too stupid to live) and I have no interest in TSTL heroines.
The hero, Nick
Nick’s not quite as annoying as Sarah. I mean, at least he’s good at his job. But he’s also a bit of a jerk who flirts with everything in a skirt and pretty much treats Sarah like crap. (He also pulled a “hey, I’m not good with feelings and you made me feel stuff, so now I have to ignore you” thing on Sarah in their past together, which is one of my all-time least favorite tropes EVER.) I didn’t see anything in his actions or words that led me to believe he had any real romantic interest in Sarah. I mean, I don’t blame him; she’s a turd. I wouldn’t want her either. But that lack of romantic interest was a bit of a problem for me as a reader, seeing as this is a ROMANCE novel.
This book also features Sarah’s turd of an ex, who, frankly, I think is perfect for Sarah. They’re turds of a feather as far as I’m concerned. (Off topic: Do romance heroines ever break up with decent guys? I’d like to see that happen once or twice.)
And on another note, this book was the first I’ve ever read to feature a Scottish rock star (not the hero, a side character) who was a complete and total dud. He was weak, cowardly, not a great kisser, and generally a total bore. How the hell can a Scottish rock star in a romance novel be so repellant? That should be, like, illegal or something.
The mystery and action in the story was also fairly lame. And a random sex scene was thrown in at the end of the book for the sole purpose, I think, of the publisher being able to call this book a romance and capitalize on the millions of romance readers out there. It read like it was pieced together from every 1980s romance novel that had Fabio on the cover. Very, very cliche.
So, needless to say this wasn’t a read I’d recommend to, well, anyone. Would I have been as hard on the book if it hadn’t been touted as the second coming of Sophie Kinsella and Christina Lauren? Maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll never know...
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
It’s not stigma-y, but it’s not...good. Not good at all.
Other reading suggestions
I think this one is pretty clear. Read Sophie Kinsella and Christina Lauren.