Today is A-Z Wednesday, from Reading At the Beach, and today's Letter is F. My book is Fearless Hearts, by Linda Hudson-Smith, and it was really awful. Romance books often skimp on characterization, and I only wish this one had done that much more, because almost every effort to depict the characters failed miserably. Well, sometimes it failed hilariously. I found myself laughing out loud during this read.
Taleah and Lorenz meet when her brother-in-law brings along an military buddy during a leave. They fall in love, get married, discover that Lorenz is a bigamist, and get remarried. I'm sorry if I'm spoiled any plot points, but honestly, the plot is not what you notice. You notice the prose. I offer a selection from a page chosen at random: "...I know Lorenz is the man for me. Our spirits became entwined the same moment our eyes locked for the very first time." Er, ouch?
From Jared, Talah's brother: "Jared was actually heartbroken over Taleah moving away to another continent, but he'd never let her know how deeply hurt he was. Since they were so sensitive to each other's emotions, he figured she already knew." Hudson-Smith uses this contradiction effect quite often, with one sentence making the previous one meaningless. The constant product placement also kept jarring me; when Lorenz and Taleah come home from a romantic dinner to dance in their living room, the groove to "the old-school album Rufasized featuring Chaka Khan, now available on CD." What, no label information?
I liked the book's depiction of the struggles military families have, but small details irritated me -- on the second page, we learn that Taleah won't drive because of an accident that she only survived by NOT wearing her seat belt, Lorenz has a child that he completely ignores until the very end of the book, Taleah's complains that Lorenz does too much housework (actually, I liked the complaint -- she worries that he doesn't approve of her or won't accept things from her, but her idiotic way of complaining was irritating). I can't really recommend this book to anyone except aspiring editors looking for something to practice on. I ended up having a lot of fun; if my sister had been around I probably would constantly poke her and make her listen to good paragraphs.
On the other hand, I don't read many modern romances; I got this one from a friend when I mentioned I was trying to read more books by people of color. So maybe it's just using a different set of expectations, and the whole line specifies what brand of lipstick each character wears.