Sunday, January 23, 2011

Surprisingly, Junk Can Be Really Good

I think I mentioned that I had three P&P inspired books to read and review, meaning I've got one more left.  And though I haven't mentioned it yet, I acquired quite an exciting next-on-list on Thursday (more on that sometime soon, I promise :)).  And yet, neither of those two anticipated readings is tonight's topic.  Why? On Friday, I went to the library to pick up one of the many new books I put on reserve.  This one was Susan Elizabeth Phillips's latest.  Who's she? I'd say that of the authors whose books I read regularly, she's just about the... well trashiest, to put it bluntly (actually, there's one trashier, whom I have mentioned here previously... 10 points if you can find the post :)) She writes contemporary romance, pretty much chic lit, but without the urban setting or nasal twittering common to a lot of books answering to that genre.  But you know, we're talking stories that are unabashedly about two people getting together, without much else going on.  Nothing I'm complaining about, you understand, but anything that should make me drop everything and read? I wouldn't think so...

But on the train on the way home, I did not continue reading the P&P western (yup, no joke :)) I need to get through so I can get to the good stuff.  After reading the inside cover the new SEP, Call Me Irresistible, and noting that she uses characters from some of her other books, I remembered how much I love the dumb things... and I just couldn't put it down.  I started it on the train and on Friday night, instead of picking up either of the two books that were ahead of it on the line in my head... I let this one jump ahead.  And not only, I did *not* fall asleep three chapters in, like I often do on Friday night; I read the *entire* thing - straight.  So what gives? Am I that shallow? Well, yes.  Not that I didn't know it before, but clearly that is really all I care about in a book - good solid romance :).  But still... if there's anything this blog has taught me (wow, I learn from myself :)), it's that I actually do care about decent writing.  And as important as plot and characters are, I can't enjoy them if I'm disturbed by clumsy phrasing, by ridiculous and implausible speeches / behavior, or by a whole lot of irrelevant who knows what.  The point is, there are a lot things that make it hard to enjoy a really trashy book, even if the premise is everything I could ask for (not that it often is).  So clearly... that is not the case here! I can be snobby about Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but she knows her stuff.

Yes, in order to enjoy her books, you need to buy into whatever she's selling 100%.  Chava was flipping through the book last night, and she was like, I don't get it why does she like this guy... or some such thing.  And I was like Chava, whatever, just go with, clearly he's a good guy because that's the entire point of the book.  Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy.  Because seriously, these are books are really just here to entertain.  Almost everyone is perfect in their own way, except for the obligatory villain of course.  But everyone else is really nice and fun once you get to know them.  And everything works out for everyone too.  And it's never in doubt that it will.  And not only is it never in doubt for us, it's not really in doubt for them either.  I mean, there are moments... but even the most stressful ones don't really disturb the equilibrium.  The only thing that does... why all that wonderful angst of course.  So we've got no tension except romantic, A-OK there.  And very minor plot outside of our feature couple, A-OK again :)  In fact the only thing that wasn't 100% A-OK was that SEP usually puts plenty of male perspective in her books, and this one had almost none until towards the end.  I kept waiting for it, but I think she must have felt it wouldn't work in this one... so oh well, I have enough of an imagination to manage without it :)  Was totally fun in any case.

Here's my main point - or I guess my main question.  Am I crazy? Definitely not totally, since a lot of people love her books (I mean people on the websites I read of course :)) But is she really that good at what she does? Or was I just in the mood for good junk? Probably a little bit of both... but I guess the only way to find out is to read more in her genre... to which I say, no thanks.  The truth is, I have tried similar stuff and it's often pretty unreadable.  And come time to think of it, a lot of her oler books were pretty unreadable too.... or at least less readable than this.  Maybe she's getting better? Nah, I'd probably enjoy most of them just as much ;)  So I guess I do have pretty low standards.  So note to everyone reading this - do *not* pick this up from the library now.  Especially not on my say-so.  I think this one is really for me only... And if you do want to read it, call me first, and let's discuss :)

Verdict: 3.75/5

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