Friday, December 31, 2010

This Time, There's No Upside

No new interesting author for you this time folks (is there ever? :)), it's one you've seen before, in a genre you've seen before.  Yay for you and yay for me :) Do I sound cynical? Forgive me, but there wasn't much Tasha Alexander's Dangerous to Know (other than the fact that I recognize the allusion in the title :)) that I hadn't seen before.  Not that I'd complain about that of course, since I have been known to read the same book 10 times over if I like it… so what am I complaining about? Well aren't we rushing ahead of ourselves just a bit? Maybe just a bit :)

So I put Dangerous to Know on reserve a while ago, and it became available at the same time as two other books, all right before I left to Israel, so perfect timing there :) Finished this one on the plane, and responsible girl that I am, writing this on the plane too :) (and now I have an excuse not to reread my previous Tasha Alexander entry to make sure I'm not repeating myself without duly noting it :)) Anyway, as you may recall, I enjoyed Tears of Pearl, her last one, more than I was expecting, so I had some hopes for this one.  She managed to keep the romance fresh by introducing issues with pregnancy and whatnot, and the setting kind of saved the story (if I recall).  So at best, I could hope for both a satisfying Colin/Emily plotline and a fairly decent story (this one set in the Norman countryside, less exotic but still plenty to work with).

And you know, right away I noticed what I have always noticed about this book, that Lady Emily is a bit of a Mary Sue and that these books are written in the "tell, don't say" style - these characters just jump from one dramatic turn a phrase to another hyperbolic outburst and then onto some light fervent outpourings (I had fun with that sentence, could you tell? :)) Never mind that they say things I wouldn't expect to hear coming out of most people's mouths, they say them without any warning, any lead-in.  So yeah, no prize for writing here… but I knew that going in.  

What about Colin and Emily? To be fair, she did try to introduce some decent tension… but omg, not my style.  All about Colin smothering Emily and she not wanting to be smothered… really she is just *way* too into her own independence - again, no change from earlier books, but it doesn't make for compelling romance.  And as for the pathos involved in her continued child-bearing related issues, I have to say I actually found her wallowing annoying.  And if I found it annoying, you know it was pretty extreme, since I'm usually up for a good wallow as long as it gets the main character some sympathy :) But here it was just another contribution to all the drama, drama, drama that pervaded the story.

Which brings to me to what I guess I disliked most about the book, the story.  I mean, of course, it's what I care about the least :), but, come on, I need something to fall back on when there's nothing else there.  But here, I felt like the mystery was simply badly developed.  There were never any hints, never any deductions, just a matter of things happening… okay I guess there was a little investigation, but mostly it was Emily talking to people and getting nowhere.  And to keep up the urgency, instead of going with real plot or decent villainy, there was a lot of drivel (I'm proud of that one was well :)) about ghosts and whatnot.  Make up your mind, is this a gothic horror or victorian whodunnit? (and proud again :)) I mean, in their place, spooky ghosts are fine, but there place is not the sedate Norman countryside in Victorian times, where the author just doesn't have the weaving skills to graft them in seamlessly (and again! :)) Even the ending didn't redeem - I knew what was coming, I pretty much guessed who the bad guy was (or at least I knew he was not as he seemed when we met him, and he seemed good :)) and I have to say I was almost skimming at one point because the ending was just more of the same frenzied palooza (I couldn't think of a good prefix, sorry :)) that occupied the rest of the book.

Verdict: 2/5
Food: Weird ingredients that just don't mesh… can I make something up? I guess that's cheating… but I must have had enough weird foods in my time… but of course I can't think of anything… maybe it's time to give this up… for now anyway

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