Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Have you ever read a book in a bad tempered sort of way, picking out faults and trying very hard not to be won over?

I’ve been doing that a lot recently, and the latest victim of my reading blues was Kresley Cole. This was particularly sad as I truly enjoyed her Immortals After Dark series last year; I even glommed.

What set me off (other than a generally grumpy disposition)? The Glossary of Terms preceding the story. In it, The Vessel is described thus
At the cusp of each Ascension, a chosen female will beget a child who will become a warrior of either ultimate evil or of ultimate good –

- depending on the father

(Double gah!)

Way to strip the female of even the faintest whiff of autonomy.

Riled, I continued on and sure enough poor Holly the heroine/ vessel is summarily stripped naked and placed on a ceremonial altar by evil demons, so that she might be raped/ impregnated. In the first twenty pages. Later that night, Holly’s bare legs are ogled on by the hero, who admires their smooth, sleek and toned perfection.

(Yeah, I thought sourly. If I were unexpectedly kidnapped by demons and stripped naked, my legs too would be smooth and sleek and worthy of admiration. Except, no, they wouldn’t.)

Cade, the ne’er do well demon hero veers towards the obnoxious. Any guy who ends the majority of his sentences with a ‘yeah?’ would probably drive me nuts, but then he has the temerity to label an amorous lady bar owner ‘a slag’ to dispel Holly’s suspicions, which – hello, if anyone’s a slag, it would be the unrepentantly lecherous and horny Cade, whose reputation as a man-slut precedes him.

But it’s different for boys.

Cade also has the cheek to say:
“For the record, male Lorekind have higher opinions of females than human males do. The playing field’s more equal in our world.”

This coming from a breed of Demon who ‘claims his female’ by turning fully into his demon form and biting her into submission… plus, Vessel, anyone?

The other thing that really irked was all the rampant consumption that goes on between the covers of an Immortals novel. Burbury, million dollar sports cars, Ipods, Wiis, Bentleys, and expensive silk and lace undergarments that are the staple of any self-respecting virgin heroine’s attire.

I found myself hoping Holly and Cade are affected by the global financial crisis in a brutal way. (Also tiring: nauseating articles about how the mega-rich are really glum about losing their money.)

And while I’m on my nit-picking rampage – why does Holly have to be delicate?

What exactly is a ‘masculine jaw’?

What is a ‘feminine scent’?

Grumpy Romance reader will stop there.

In tomorrow’s post: why I loved Dark Desires After Dusk despite everything.


Jessica said...

I think I actually kind of liked this one, but who can tell these books apart, really?

I am working on a post about these terms masculine scent" and "feminine scent". I agree these mystery smells need to be investigated

Brie said...

Hi Meriam, I've missed your posts.

I always go into books from Cole's IAD series looking for a light, fun read, therefore I'm rarely disappointed with her books. Though, some have fallen flat for me. That said, everything you have brought up here is true and if I think back on her previous books, I would probably find way more instances like the ones you've brought up.

A lot of PNR writers use silly trope's that I would think authors would avoid like the plague now that they have been overused to the point that they are more eyerolling inducing than anything else: Female/male scents, delicate women & huge men, penises the size of tree trunks and vagina's that are somehow able to withstand them, babies needing to be produced to save the world, etc.

Because of this, I have to read most PNR in a whole different mind set than I do everything else I read. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to get through them.

I'm looking forward to seeeing what you post tomorrow.

Tumperkin said...

Oh I'm glad you're back! I've never read a KC and I prolly never will (God knows I've tried but paranormals are never really going to be my thing) but I enjoyed this post nonetheless - it really made me laugh. And the scent thing is universal in the genre.

Meriam said...

Jessica, I look forward to your findings. I was particularly disappointed because it's kind of lazy, isn't it?

Brie - so true! Cole is light reading for me too. I think I was feeling extra prickly when I read DDAD and couldn't let some of the bigger things go.

Tumperkin -I would actually recommend the series on a good day (I'm about to post the positive half of my review...) This and Lynn Viehl's Darkyn are the only paranormal series I read, and I think they nicely balance each other. One is dark and complex and almost studiously empowering to its female protagonists, whilst the other is a light and frothy take on the other extreme.

Carolyn Jean said...

This is actually one of my favorite books of the year but I totally know what you mean about the consumerism! Also, I didn't feel like Holly acted like a woman who was nearly raped after that near rape. Sometimes when I really like a book, I just gloss over things like these. But my liking has to be extreme to tip the balance like that.

Christine said...

Hi Meriam!
I totally understand and even agree with everything you say in your review of DDAD. But.... I still loved it! Honestly, I would have had a really difficult time figuring out why, too, if it weren't for Carolyn Jean. I know you read and commented on her post on DDAD from the other day, but I understand and agree with everything she says, too! And because I'm weak and sometimes just out for a good time with an action packed book that makes me laugh and cringe and tug at my heartstrings--Cole's IAD series works for me every time.

Love your review, though.

p.s. Are you going to read Rumors by Anna Godbersen soon? I'd love for you to do a review of it similar to the one you did for The Luxe. I still crack up over that one and even had to go re-read it while I was here on your blog today. No pressure or anything, of course! ;)

Meriam said...

Hi Christine. I can't wait to get my hand on Rumors! The paperback is out in the UK now, so it's just a matter of getting myself to a bookstore and finding the time to sit down and enjoy. Honestly, anything less over-the-top and ridiculous than the plot contortions in The Luxe will be very disappointing. Here's hoping.

KMont said...

It's kind of funny how Ward's BDB series gets put through the wringer for all it's bling and high-dollar items that will really date the series in the future (usually a HUGE no-no w/editors), but this is the first I can remember a similar thought on Cole's IAD series. Wonder why it doesn't get brought more for the latter?

I think I just tend to block out those descriptions though, but it really does seem that loads of bling and disposable income is the norm in a lot of romance. It tends to make things more interesting I suppose.

I love your irritating points about the book. I hope to get this one read before summer.

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